Tag Archives: economic violence

Manokwari Tastes the Bitterness of Oil Palm

By Pietsau Amafnini at Jasoil
First Published: March 2, 2014

Little by little, people start to taste the bitterness of oil palm.

It came as a big shock to both the indigenous people and residents of the transmigration settlements in SP8 to SP10 Masni and Sidey, Manokwari regency. Heavy rain all night long eventually meant that by the morning of 16th February 2014 the calm atmosphere of the night before had been turned to panic. Nikson Kasi, a volunteer for Jasoil Tanah Papua, reported that in his village Mansaburi, floodwaters were assailing the village. The Wariori River, which passes through PT Medco Papua Hijau Selaras’s oil palm plantation, had burst its banks with the volume of water from the mountains upstream.

At least 139 houses in Mansaburi village, Masni District, Manokwari, West Papua Province were swept away by the floods. There were no fatalities, but damage to property is estimated at billions of Rupiah. Even sadder is the news that people’s crops and livestock were also washed away by the floods as they charged through the oil palm plantation.

According to Nikson’s account, the floodwaters rose at about 04.30 AM. The river’s levees were breached and a flash flood struck houses that lay behind them. The Mansaburi village head, Robert Gasang confirmed that 139 houses had been destroyed by the current. The 700-or-so residents were forced to evacuate to escape the rising waters of the Wariori river, as heavy rain continued for the next two days, even though the level of flooding receded.

“We’re just worried, what it next time the rain continues for two or three days? Well now we’ve tasted the bitterness of oil palm after this flood”, said Demmy Safe, an activist with Jasoil Tanah Papua whose home is also close to the site of the flooding. Nikson continued, “even though there were no fatalities, the flood has wiped out people’s gardens, including rice, chilli, beans, tomatoes and other plants. Farm animals were also swept away by the floods”

Local residents, who came as part of transmigration programs or on their own initiative, say that previously, when the only plantation was that of PTPN II Prafi, flooding wasn’t particularly often seen. Now flooding has become a constant threat to the people because forests have been cleared [by Medco] as far upstream as the mountains, and so people have started to be worried that the floods will keep coming back. Especially in the rainy season like now, we always have to be on our guard, because when the big disaster comes it will not give notice beforehand.

Translated by awasMifee

[translator’s note: this article claims that houses were swept away (hanyut) by the floods. I’ve kept that dramatic term in my translation, although would point out that other media accounts have said that houses were merely severely damaged. (rusak parah).]

New supermarket in Jayapura triggers complaints about goods on offer and price differentials

Bintang Papua, 9 and 10 July 2012

[Comment: This report reveals the continuing tendency to promote businesses from outside Papua while failing to advance the interests of local Papuan producers. TAPOL]

Many complaints about price differentials at newly open supermarket in Jayapura

Although the supermarket  Hypermart Jayapura has only recently open its doors to the general public, many people who have purchased goods have complained that there has been a huge differential  between the prices marked on the shelves and the prices of the goods when they reach the cashier to pay for their purchases. As a result people who have been shopping at the new store are being advised to take care about their purchases to avoid losing a lot of money.

One shopper who spoke to Bintang Papua said  that she was charged at the cashier for something costing Rp 91,000 although she hadn’t even purchased the product. Other shoppers made similar complaints. In once instance, the shopper was charged  Rp. 105,000 for cooking  oil while the oil normally costs only Rp. 29,000. Other shoppers complained of striking differences in the prices they were charged.

In most cases, the shoppers were able to get refunds from the store after complaining. A store manager said that they would give refunds to anyone complaining about price differentials.

In a subsequent article, Bintang Papua reported that demands were being made by many people for the supermarket’s licence to trade to be revoked, because the terms of the licence which had been agreed in Jakarta with the business had been violated.

Some people complained that many of the vegetables and fruit that were offered for sale had been imported from outside West Papua or even from abroad. Indigenous Papuans who were able to produce these products in large quantities had not been able to compete with the many products on offer at the store. Another complaint was that the store was selling alcohol

The Indonesian Consumers Association said that there was no need for foodstuffs to be imported from outside Papua or from abroad because they were readily available in the Land of Papua and would enable local producers to compete in the local market. Taking supplies from local producers would also help to improve the level of welfare of the Papuan people

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Medical personnel seriously lacking in Papua

JUBI, 2 April 2012

Taking into account the vastness of the territory of the Province of Papua, there is a serious shortage of medical personnel here. Moreover, the ratio between the number of medical personnel and the number of hospitals and clinics is also far too low.

‘If you take into account the number of hospitals, clinics and medical centres, I reckon that the shortage of medical personnel amounts to as much as 2,700,’ said the Head of the Provincial Medical Services in Papua, Josef Rinta Rachatmaka.

He said that as a way of reducing this shortage, the Provincial Medical Services intends, in co-ordination with the Agency for Personnel Education and Training in the Province of Papua, to look more closely at the data about healthcare personnel in the area.

‘On the basis of our present calculations, the number of healthcare personnel in Papua is very low indeed.. With 20 hospitals, 310 clinics and 760 healthcare centres, we need a further 2,700 medical personnel,’ he said. He said in particular that there was a need for more medical personnel in the medical health centres that are spread right across the territory.

He said that the shortage would become even more acute if new hospitals were built. The medical personnel includes the number of doctors, midwives, dieticians and so on. The key factor in any healthcare provision is that there is the right number of personnel. However many medicaments and however much money is available, if there are not enough personnel, then nothing will function properly. While agreeing that there are enough facilities, the most important thing is to have enough medical personnel. ‘Many of the facilities we have here are standing empty.’

He went on to say that whenever there are plans to build new hospitals, if the personnel are simply taken from those at the already existing facilities, this would only lead to a further lack of personnel. He said that they plan to open up new diploma courses for nurses, midwives and dieticians.’We very much hope that, as new healthcare facilities are built, there will be a sufficient number of personnel and not continue with the situation as it is at present.’

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

West Papua — Violence against indigenous women

————-
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FAT-021-2011
May 20, 2011

An article from Fien Jarangga & Galuh Wandita, Cultural Survival – Spring 2011 forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDONESIA: West Papua — Violence against indigenous women

Fien Jarangga coordinates the Papuan Women’s Human Rights Network, a newly formed network of Indigenous human rights workers from Papua, Indonesia.
Galuh Wandita is a senior associate at the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Papuan women have been suffering terrible violence both outside and inside their homes for the past 40 years, and for most of that time, they’ve suffered in silence. But now a group of women has launched their own truth commission to give support to the victims and to pressure the government to change its behavior.

Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) has long been in a state of upheaval. When Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945 and achieved international recognition in 1949, Papua remained under Dutch rule. Indonesia contested this situation, and in 1962 the territory’s administration was transferred to the United Nations. Part of that agreement called for an “act of free choice”—a territory-wide vote in which citizens could choose independence or becoming part of Indonesia. The vote was supposed to be universal, but in practice an Indonesian general choose 1,025 men to act as representatives of the whole population, and those representatives voted unanimously for the territory to be absorbed by Indonesia. Some Papuans claim that the process was flawed because it did not follow the one-person-one-vote model and was conducted in a context of on-going military operations, and there has been a low-level resistance movement operating in Papua ever since.

The Indonesian military and police forces, ostensibly acting against these rebels, has committed a wide range of human rights abuses, including murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping, often in secret and rarely with any consequences.

That behavior came to particular public attention in October 2010, with the circulation of a YouTube video showing three Indonesian soldiers torturing two Papuan men. The soldiers were tried by a military court, which sentenced them to less than a year in prison for “not following orders” (the Indonesian military code does not recognize torture as a punishable offense).

Indonesian military presence remains strong in Papua, and the number of Indonesian settlers from other islands is quickly outgrowing the number of indigenous Papuans. Papua was granted “special autonomy” status in 2001, with legislation to establish a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission “to clarify the history” of Papua. To date, none of these provisions for justice have been established, while atrocities committed against the Indigenous Peoples continue.

So, more than a year ago, a group of Indigenous Papuan women gathered to talk about the violence that we have experienced. We wanted to look back to the past, because we knew that there needs to be a reckoning, a way to listen to Indigenous women who experienced violence since the time of conflict started more than 40 years ago. We wanted to write down, for the first time, women’ s stories of rape and abuse that took place during military campaigns in Papua. We also wanted to listen to stories of Indigenous women beaten by their husbands, because we know that the violence in our private lives is also connected to the violence that took place during times of political conflict.

In May 2009, 19 Indigenous women and 3 men from 11 organizations across Papua met for 4 days to discuss how we could we begin to collect some of these stories. With support from the National Women’s Commission and assistance from the International Center for Transitional Justice, we developed some forms and came up with a plan to find these women, convince them to tell their story, and write those stories down. Working for more than a year, we were able to collect stories from 261 Indigenous women survivors of violence.

The team worked for more than six months interviewing victims and witnesses, as well as conducting group interviews while making maps and timelines together, to jog each other’s memories. Interviews were analyzed and discussed together by the team, and a report and recommendations were drafted and discussed in workshops held in Jayapura. This participatory approach was used to ensure transfer of knowledge and skills to Indigenous Papuan women involved in this effort.

These are some of the stories we collected:

1967, military operations were conducted in the town of Biak and began to move to the villages. In 1969 went home to Swaipak, Biak staying there during the Sadar operations. The Yospan became a threat to parents, because they had to let their young daughters ; in fact, some parents pressured their daughters to go to the Yospan rather than be targeted with physical violence or threatened… In the middle of the night the people were woken up… the young girls were made to dance Yospan then have sexual relations. The troops said to the parents and husbands, ‘You must understand.’

During a dance party organized by the troops in Jayapura district, around 1989, a fight broke out between some community members. Some soldiers intervened:

The soldiers brought my sister in law and told her to swallow a battery, until she was coughing. They wouldn’t allow us to bring her to the hospital . . . . The next day, they brought me and to their post . . . . They opened our clothes, and told us to stand in water for hours . . . . Then they made us sleep on the beach for about one hour. We were given no food; we were very hungry. Then they forced to rape me. After that they made us walk to the post naked; at the post a picture was taken of us.

But we also heard stories of violence in the home:

Fighting in families in my neighborhood usually happens after our husbands consume alcohol . . .CT (a local brand) . . . . When we wives are beaten to almost half dead by our drunken husbands, the crazed husbands don’t get arrested or taken away. Maybe this is also because other than some people who sell CT, there are also policemen who sell and consume (alcohol). So how will the police take care of security?

And how Indigenous women are susceptible to HIV/AIDS:

I was married when I was 14 years old. When I was in elementary school, in fifth grade, I was forced by my family to enter a traditional marriage with a chief who already had three wives. I tried to resist; I wanted to go to school like my other friends. But the chief kept pressuring my family, so I had no choice . . . . After a year, the chief brought a new wife from the town and told us this is the fifth wife. Since the fifth wife arrived, our family started getting sick . with my husband, who died, then wife number five, then three, then second, and first. They all died in one year… After being examined (at the hospital), I was infected by HIV/AIDS. This is a new illness for us. We were told to take ARV medication regularly.

Finally, on April 19, 2010 we produced a 90-page report called “Enough Already” on violence against women that took place during 1963-2009. We presented this report to the Papuan Indigenous People’s Council, an official body established by the Special Autonomy law for Papua to protect Indigenous People’s rights, and to the National Women’s Commission. The Special Autonomy law was passed in 2001, and it includes the establishment of a truth commission and a court to try human rights violations. But until now, none of these has been established. Many other parts of the Special Autonomy law have also not been implemented.

Main Findings and Recommendations
Our report documents more than 135 cases of state violence against women and 113 cases of violence in the family, using as our guide the definitions in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As mentioned above, we purposefully looked at both state and domestic violence to reflect what we have experienced in our lives. Indigenous women experience violence in the context of the political conflict in Papua, where we are displaced during military action, often becoming victims of rape, abuse, and other human rights violations. At the same time, Indigenous women are reporting high rates of domestic violence perpetrated by their husbands or partners, while receiving little protection from police or state agencies. Ironically, the influx of funds as part of the special autonomy package granted to Papua since 2001 seems to have increased the level of alcohol consumption, unprotected sex, and incidents of domestic violence. Similarly, special autonomy has not become a deterrent to human rights violations. Cases of rape by the military have continued to take place after reformation (1998) and special autonomy (2001). In fact, we found cases where women victims of human rights violations later become victims of domestic violence due to the stigma they experience as victims.

The crimes by the military and police that we documented included killings and disappearances (8 cases), attempted killings and shootings (5), illegal detention (18), assault (21), torture (9), sexual torture (6), rape (52), attempted rape (2), sexual slavery (5), sexual exploitation (9), forced contraception or abortion (4), and displacement (24). And those were just among the women who gave testimony.

Looking at the stories we collected, we made some findings regarding the conditions that perpetuate and contribute to violence against Indigenous women in Papua:

1. The central government maintains a security approach that overuses violence, with impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations, including gender-based violations.
2. There is discrimination against women in the Papuan Indigenous culture which leads to a tolerance towards violence against women.
3. The continued conflict (over natural resources, the political situation, and local-to-national-level struggle for power) has created a context that leads to an increase in incidents of violence against women, both in the public and private realms.
4. There is a lack of response and political will from the government to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in general, and specifically to the problem of violence against women.
5. Indigenous Papuan women experience layers of trauma and disempowerment without access to any interventions, causing a cycle of victimization.

We made recommendations to the Indonesian central government, calling for accountability, including acknowledgment of the truth regarding human rights violations; establishment of a truth commission and human rights court for Papua, as required under the Special Autonomy law; and the political commitment to enter into a peaceful dialogue with Papuan stakeholders.

Reform recommendations, including vetting and trials for those who committed crimes, were made to Indonesia’s armed forces. We also made recommendations to the Papuan local government, legislative body, and the Papuan Indigenous People’s Council to take concrete steps to eradicate violence against women, including developing a comprehensive approach to prevent and respond to domestic violence, and a local mechanism based on law for the rehabilitation of victims.

We handed over the report in a simple ceremony at the Papuan Indigenous People’s Council building in Abepura, where council officials, members of our team, commissioners and staff from the Women’s Commission, representatives of victims interviewed for the report, and other civil society members gathered to witness the handing over of the report. The chair of the council’s Working Group on Religion set the tone of the event when he led the opening prayer by articulating the need for acknowledgment. “We pray for those who have been tortured; we pray that God gives us strength and hope that there will be improvement in our lives. We also pray for those who committed this violence, so that they see themselves for what they have done.” The head of the council praised members of the documentation team as representing “the women of Papua who have won this first battle.” He acknowledged that one of the most difficult challenges is changing their own culture “so that cultural violence can be addressed and acknowledged.” He underlined the need for the elimination of violence, “even when our people say that this is normal.” “We now have to start the second battle,” he said.

A musical group and local choir sang songs that brought tears to all of us attending the ceremony, expressing the deep emotions in the struggle against oppression and racism of the Papuan people. Excerpts from some of the lyrics:

Black is my skin, curly is my hair, I am Papua…
Even when the sky falls down, we are Papua

Small Bits of Truth: Follow-up Activities
The work that we did is an example of how Indigenous groups are beginning to use human rights tools to recover and acknowledge the truth about past violations. In a context of impunity, where the debate about the need for a truth commission may or may not lead to the establishment of one, we are trying to make our voices heard. So far, what Indigenous women have experienced has not been acknowledged by the government. So we are at least acknowledging this ourselves.

Since we finished the report, we have formed a network for further work. We plan to work on how to help the women victims’ take positive steps to healing, while also pressuring the government to recognize their stories, and commit to stopping the violence.