Tag Archives: MSG

Indon police begin another crackdown on KNPB activists ahead of May 31 mobilisations

by West Papua Media

May 30, 2016

Indonesian police have arrested scores of West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat) members around Papua on May 30, as Papuan civil society is gearing up for a day a mass mobilizations to sustain pressure brought on by the massive May 3 rallies, where Indonesian security forces beat hundreds of people and arrested close to 2300 people.

KNPB members across Papua were handing out pamphlets calling on West Papuan society to rally on May 31 for international mediation to allow West Papuans to exercise their universal human rights of Self-Determination, long denied by Indonesia.

The May 31 rally will also be demonstrating Papuan support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) bid for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which was due to meet in Port Moresby this week, but the meeting has been postponed.

In Jayapura, 24 KNPB members were arrested at 1250pm outside the office of Papua Province Governor Lukas Enembe, at Dock 2 Jayapura whilst handing out flyers. Together with the Chairman KNPB (Numbay Area), Mr. Calvin Wenda &
Chief Diplomatic Commissioner from KNPB’s Central Committee, Mr. Cobabe Waninbo, they were taken and held at Jayapura Police headquarters.  

At time of writing, no response had occurred to WPM attempts to contact Jayapura police regarding charges or time of release.

According to KNPB sources, Police have alleged that the leaflets contain subversive material, and all gatherings of KNPB members are illegal as the organisation is forbidden from registration as a legal by a Jakarta mandate, despite the rights allegedly afforded to Papuan people under the long since abandoned “Special Autonomy” provisions, and guaranteed to all other Indonesian citizens.

Riot Police belonging to the Dalmas public order unit at 1420 swooped on the Yapis bus stop outside Abepura, and arrested all 34 KNPB Members handing out the allegedly subversive leaflets, confiscating them as well as personal possessions. 

In Wamena, several KNPB activist were chased, arrested and beaten by Indonesian police for handing out the flyers outside the KNPB Baliem office, activists had just begun leafletting for the May 31 mobilisation when Brimob police swooped and captured 21 of the KNPB activists.  

Their names are as follows: 

  1. Warpo Sampari Wetipo
  2. Hasan Kogoya
  3. Marta Haluk
  4. Mardi Heluka
  5. Hery Kosay
  6. Firdaus Hilapok
  7. Paska Iyaba
  8. Marsel Marian,
  9. Melianus Kosay
  10. Hiron Hiluka
  11. Yufry Kogoya
  12. Pilemon Meaga
  13. Domy Meaga
  14. Manu Wuka
  15. Martinus Wamu
  16. Deminus Qantik
  17. Ardis Wilil
  18. Nuber Surabut
  19. Mely Wantik
  20. Asa Asso
  21. Yulius Towolom.

Earlier, Three KNPB activists –  Darpinus Bayage, Ison Bahabol and Amiter Bahabol – were arrested for leafletting the same flyers at 1025am in  Dekai town, Yahukimo, outside the local Bupati (Regent’s) 

According to witnesses of the arrest, interviewed by a WPM stringer, the three KNPB activists were beaten as they were taken to the paddy wagon, and the witnesses reported that they believed the detainees were being “even more severely beaten once the got taken away in the vehicle.

At time of writing, the three were still being detained at the Yakuhimo police station.
A KNPB source in Yahukimo, Marten Suhun, said “despite intimidation and torture happening in Yahukimo, but we KNPB will stay out on the streets (on May 31) according to the (KNPB) national agenda.”



January 12, 2014

Opinion/ Analysis

By Selpius Bobii

 The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is an official forum to develop friendship, harmony and the sense of family between Melanesian nations, with a mind to develop peace and prosperity in the region.

The MSG Forum is in truth not only something of those Melanesian nations which already have independence, but rather it is also something of those Melanesian nations that have not yet had their sovereign independence recognised and which continue to struggle to that end.

Accordingly there exists an obligation by the members of the MSG to be ready to receive as members those Melanesian nations (peoples) that have not in the past not had that opportunity; and secondly an obligation to defend the call for independence for those Melanesian peoples struggling for recognition of their sovereignty.

This critical role of the MSG lies within the framework of upholding the commission of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights together with other international laws including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the opening sections of each of these covenants and declarations, the right to self-determination of all indigenous peoples of the world is referred to.

The preamble of the Constitution of the MSG states the obligation of the MSG member states  to defend the right to self-determination of all Melanesian peoples which have not yet received full independence.  International legal determinations together with the MSG’s legal foundation, together give legitimacy to the MSG forum to defend Melanesian peoples (nations) that are struggling for full independence.  Such legal determinations can on occasion however give rise to divisions within the MSG itself due to differing opinions of members and can even threaten to divide the MSG. This may arise when a non-Melanesian nation’s control and colonial domination over a certain Melanesian people is perceived to be at risk and that nation reacts accordingly, resulting in different responses from respective Melanesian nations.

There is of course a code of ethics for international association between nations (for instance the respect of another nation’s sovereignty), however notwithstanding there also needs to be a greater awareness worldwide that independence is the right of all nations of peoples on this earth. That is stated both at international law and within the very law that applies to the MSG and these laws create a legal obligation to that end.  How much more important in the case of  peoples whose very continued existence is threatened by the colonial power!  Such is the case for the people of Papua where colonial domination by the Republic of Indonesia is leading to annihilation of the indigenous people of the land.

In the interests of mutual rights, justice and human dignity, MSG and other nations of the earth together with UN have both the legal and moral obligation to give an opportunity to those  peoples (nations) in the world that have not yet received independence to have their sovereignty legally recognised. It is really urgent that the MSG, UN and other nations of the world act on this obligation such that the position of all nations of the world may be on a level plane with no one nation able to continue to colonise and dominate another. This is absolutely critical in enabling progress towards the end goal of peace and prosperity for all peoples in the world and not just for a privileged few.

It was on the basis of this international commitment and the preamble to the Constitution of the MSG, that the MSG leadership at its 19th Summit in Noumea from 17-21 June 2013 made a decision that was all important in terms of the political and humanitarian status of Papua. Their commitment in regards to the indigenous people of Papua was clearly stated in points 20/21 of the Communiqué of the MSG, which is itself a valid and legal document. That decision was binding on all members of the MSG without exception and it is the obligation of all members of the MSG to respect and act in accordance with that decision. It will give great hope and joy to not only the people of Papua but also countless others, if every leader of the MSG is able to maintain their attitude and actions such that they are in accordance with this decision of the MSG.  In-keeping with that decision, to defend Papua’s sovereignty through official channels of the UN, by mediation between Papua and Indonesia and through dialogue regarding the political and legal status of Papua together with other problems.

The commitment of the MSG leadership is so closely tied to the issue of Papua and is now at the very edge and being seriously tested. The realities seen to date are that:

  1. There are certain members of the MSG that have not wholeheartedly respected and implemented the decision of the MSG leadership on 21 June 2013.
  1. There has been observed a lack of consistence of certain members of the MSG in regards to their commitment to the decision in Noumea and in fact there has been observed since that date an increase in the extent to which those particular MSG members have been working together in partnership with the State of Indonesia.
  1. The state of (1-2) above are a direct result  of Indonesia playing its ‘two-way’ political games; of continuing to carry out a range of operations aimed at suppressing the movement and activities of the Papuan Independence Movement, whilst at the same time increasing its level of campaigning and diplomacy towards certain members of the MSG.  (With Indonesia’s efforts in diplomacy have also been supported by a range of other ‘attractive offers’).
  1. Indonesia has also requested support of governments of other nations in this regard including both Australia and New Zealand, appealing to them to influence members of the MSG against supporting Papua’s application to the MSG.
  1.  Indonesia did not facilitate the agreed-on visit to Jakarta and Papua by an MSG delegation of Foreign Ministers within the 6 months time deadline from 21 June 2013 in accordance with the MSG decision.
  1. With the 6 months limit requirement of the MSG decision now passed, Indonesia has now on 11 January 2014 facilitated the visit of a MSG foreign minister delegation to Jakarta.
  1. Efforts have been made by Indonesia to prevent this MSG Delegation from visiting Papua during its visit to Indonesia.
  1. If it eventuates that the MSG Delegation is finally allowed to visit Papua during this present visit, then it’s highly likely that the Delegation will be prevented by Indonesia from meeting with key Papuan leaders and the leaders of the different components of the Papuan Liberation Movement.
  1.  All of the Indonesia Government’s efforts referred to above, have been made with the aim of causing Papua’s application to the MSG to fail.

At this time all peoples throughout Melanesia together with those in international solidarity, are keenly watching to see what steps and political direction will be taken by the MSG. Will the MSG maintain its earlier commitment and attitude on the Papuan issue or back down? Will Indonesia allow the Delegation to visit Papua at this time and allow them access to the key figures of the Papuan Independence Struggle including those currently imprisoned or will Indonesia block that access? Why be afraid?  Is not God with us?

This article has been written from behind prison bars for the purpose of strengthening our hearts and our faith in regards to the MSG Forum.  Let us remain strong and perseverant faced with this test.

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & Papuan Freedom Political Detainee held in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura


by Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison, West Papua

21 December, 2013

Opinion / Analysis

In June 2013 the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Djoko Suyanto invited the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to send a delegation to visit Indonesia(1).  At the 19th Summit of the MSG on 21 June 2013 the MSG leadership determined that the question of the application for MSG membership by West Papua would be decided at the latest within 6 months of that meeting, following receipt of a report on a visit to Indonesia by the MSG member Foreign Ministers.

It is now 6 months to the day since that decision was made and yet the MSG Foreign Ministers have not yet visited Indonesia due to the lack of certainty concerning the invitation from Indonesia.  It is now clear that Indonesia’s supposed invitation was but a political snare to delay the MSG leadership’s decision regarding West Papua’s application for MSG membership.  Meanwhile Indonesia has been busy throughout this 6 months lobbying and making offers to the individual MSG member states in order to influence the outcome of that decision.

Indonesia is extremely sly and cunning in the way it plays its ‘Indonesian puppet’ politics. It was with the very same slyness that enabled Indonesia to succeed in annexing West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia in the 1960s and which has enabled Indonesia to maintain its hold on Papua ever since. Indonesia has undertaken all possible means to influence the international community such that West Papua to this date remains within the region of RI’s power, and Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG in June 2013 was but one of RI’s political strategies to that end.  It was an intentional ploy to cause Papua’s efforts to become a member of the MSG to fail.

From the time news was heard of Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG, the indigenous Papuan community already knew that Indonesia would not follow through in fulfilling its commitment to enable the MSG visit to Jakarta and Papua; and that has now become a reality.  Meanwhile almost all of the member nations of the MSG have fallen right into the snares set by Indonesia, allowing themselves to be manipulated so as to meet Indonesia’s purpose of defeating Papua’s application for MSG membership.

Indonesia has not only tricked the Melanesian nations individually in this way and has tricked them as a united body in the MSG regarding the supposed invitation, but has at the same time deceived the international community in regards to the same. So many have been hoping and waiting for the outcome of this matter, many of whom have made sacrifices to uphold truth, justice and dignity of the West Papuan people.

Indonesia’s deceit of the MSG Forum in this way just serves to heighten the perception in the international community and for some of the MSG members that Indonesia as a state is chronically lying to the world. There have been endless occasions when RI has wilfully lied in order to maintain its hold on West Papua within Indonesia and so many have been deceived by Indonesia’s cunning and sly ways in this regard. The tragic consequence being that as a result many parties have chosen to ignore the urgent humanitarian problems in West Papua, problems the ramifications of which are most horrifying indeed. Problems that Indonesia for 50 years has gone to great efforts to hide from the world.  And so determination of the legal and political status of Papua according to international law has also been delayed.

Discussions in relation to the human rights violations and the legal and political status of the West Papuan nation at the 19th Summit of the MSG in Noumea, gave a breath of fresh air and new hope to the indigenous community of West Papua. To a people who have been under the cruel colonial domination of Indonesia and its allies for over 50 years. It is dearly hoped that this new hope born of the 19th MSG Summit will not just elapse like the passing of time; and that it will not be brought down by the many offers made by the Indonesian government and its allies to the MSG member states.  Rather the Melanesian people of Papua hope and pray that the stated commitment of the 19th MSG forum will be upheld and defended, seeing West Papua given full membership at the MSG and consequently of the Pacific Islands Forum.  Such that in time the problem of Papua can be dealt with by the official mechanisms of the United Nations and the nation of Papua become independent and set free from all forms of tyranny, oppression and enslavement.

The commitment of the MSG Forum at this time is indeed being sorely tested. Will the MSG leadership have the courage to decide in the near future to make West Papua a full member of the MSG without having to wait for a report from a now much delayed visit of the MSG member Foreign Ministers to Indonesia? Or will the MSG leadership delay that decision and succumb to the influence of the cunning politics of Indonesia and its allies?

The indigenous community of Papua and those in the international community who care about the fate of West Papuans, are following the political wake from the last MSG Summit. All are awaiting a decision of certainty on West Papua’s application for MSG membership as a first real and effective step towards eventually bringing the problem of the legal and political status of West Papua to the mechanisms of the United Nations.  As the people of Papua have not struggled for more than 50 years  to take something that rightfully belongs to another, but rather to have the sovereign independence of the people of Papua recognised by the world.


1. That invitation was conveyed by Suyanto when he met with the Fijian Prime Minister (at that time the Chairperson of the MSG) in Suva, Fiji. 

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA.  This article is written from Abepura Prison, Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia

 Related articles

West Papua Report April 2011: VP rejects dialogue, MSG, more

West Papua Report
April 2011

This is the 84th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.


Indonesia’s Vice President Boediono has begun implementation of a Presidential decree calling for the establishment of an inter-governmental agency to examine problems in West Papua. The initiative falls far short of widespread Papuan calls for a senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue between Indonesian officials and Papuans. A senior Papuan civil society leader has spoken out against this continued failure of Jakarta to engage in serious dialogue. Papuan church leaders have charged the Indonesian government with “genocide” in West Papua. The Melanesian Spearhead Group again failed to invite representatives from West Papua to its annual summit, instead inviting the Indonesian government to send observers. Indonesian officials violated the labor rights of Papuans by jailing nurses who called a peaceful, legal strike. A leading Papuan NGO chief has called for elimination of provisions in the Indonesian criminal code that violate Indonesia’s obligations under international conventions to which it is party.



  • The Indonesia Government Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue
  • Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue
  • Papuan Church Leaders Charge Indonesian with “Genocide”
  • Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
  • Nurses Jailed in Labor Dispute
  • Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in Indonesia’s Criminal Code

The Government of Indonesia Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue

The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesian Vice President Boediono planned to  convene a meeting on West Papua on March 28 in Jakarta. The meeting was to be the initial step in formulating a draft of a presidential decree to address issues regarding Papua. The regulation also aims to establish a special unit to accelerate development in Papua. According to the decree, the government will form a “delivery unit,” the Unit Percepatan Pembangunan Papua dan Papua Barat (UP4B/ Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua). Significant aspects of the draft include the promotion of a cluster-based approach to development, and an increased integration of the activities of the central and regional administrations. The planned regulation follows a presentation made by Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu and West Papua Governor Abraham Ocktavianus Atnuri to the national Cabinet in January.

Indonesia Vice President Boediono The late March meeting was to have included Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa and Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, as well as unnamed Papuan representatives.

A March 9 interview by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Allard revealed the Vice President’s intentions. Boediono told Allard that he rejected a bilateral dialogue, as called for by many Papuans, contending instead that his agency would assist multiparty communications. Boediono said he would welcome international donor aid money for West Papua but rejected any possible mediation role such as occurred in Aceh in 2005 when a peace accord mediated by internationally ended years of central government abuses carried out by security forces. Boediono told Allard that his new effort would aim at better communications, affirmative action for indigenous Papuans, and “more openness.” (The Jakarta government has long placed severe restrictions on journalists, UN and foreign government or NGO personnel seeking to visit West Papua.) Boediono offered no assurances that he would press for allowing Papuans the right to fly the Morning Star flag or that the heavy military presence in West Papua might be reduced.

Vice President Boediono made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination.

WPAT Comment: Boediono’s “agency” falls far short of persistent appeals by Papuan officials, civil society leaders as well as Papuan, Indonesian and international NGOs for a senior level, internationally-mediated dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan leaders. Indeed, Boediono, in his Sydney Morning Herald interview, made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination, which the central government has long denied Papuans.

Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue

Participation of Papuan provincial level officials in Vice Boediono’s meeting regarding West Papua (see report above) reflects the unwillingness of Papuan government officials to support the widespread call of their Papuan constituents for an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Jakarta government. Pastor Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network – JDP discussed this failure of Papuan leadership candidly in a March 25 interview with JUBI.

Tebay noted frankly that neither of the provincial governments (Papua and West Papua) have reached agreement about the agenda of such a dialogue. Nor have either of the Papuan administrations issued statements officially supporting Jakarta-Papua dialogue. Tebay candidly assessed that the Papuan officials’ failure to endorse the popular calls for dialogue was because dialogue “is seen as being a separatist move and in opposition to what the Indonesian state is working for.” “Any individual who works for the government who expresses support for the idea of a Jakarta-Papua dialogue is in danger of losing his job because he is likely to be seen as a separatist. Anyone working for the government who expresses support for a dialogue places himself in danger and could lose his job,’ he said.

For his part, Father Tebay continues to pursue dialogue as a means of finding solutions to problems besetting Papuans. Tebay stressed that dialogue was not in itself a solution but rather would bring together the Papuan people and the Indonesian government to discuss the problems. The aim would be to discuss the problems and agree to the best possible solution.

Pastor Tebay said that so far, he has visited twelve districts in Papua to hold consultations. The districts he has visited so far include Merauke, Biak Enarotali, Timika, Wamena and Sorong.

He has also visited some other countries to discuss the question of dialogue including PNG, Vanuatu and Australia where he met Papuans in a number of cities. Everywhere he went, he encountered enthusiasm for the idea of finding a peaceful solution by means of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

Papuan Church Leaders Charge the Indonesian Government with “Genocide”

Papuan Church leaders in late March issued a “Theological Declaration of Churches in Papua.” The declaration includes one of the most forthright Papuan statements regarding genocide targeting Papuans. The statement which was forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (see full document at A Statement from a Group of Papuan Church Leaders) contends:

Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.


Papuans have undergone a ‘silent history of suffering’ or memmoria passsionis leading to genocide. … The term genocide perhaps does not meet the criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans. 

Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit members and observers.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), comprising Vanuatu, the Solomon Island, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Kanaky peoples of New Caledonia, invited Indonesia (and Timor-Leste) to join their annual meeting. MSG leaders met March 31 in Suva, Fiji, for the annual summit which followed a meeting of foreign ministers March 29. The MSG did not invite any representation from West Papua.

A conference of solidarity groups supporting West Papua that convened in Sydney in February had called on the MSG not to offer observer status to Indonesia and instead to offer that status to representatives of the Papuan people of West Papua.

For its part, the Australian West Papua Association (AWPA) welcomed a statement from the Chairman of the MSG meeting, Ratu Inoke Kubuabol who said that “The Melanesia Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua.” Joe Collins of AWPA said “we urge the MSG to grant West Papua membership at the leaders summit. They would have the support of the Melanesian people across the region in granting West Papua membership.”

Collins noted that 42% included West Papua as part of the Melanesian family in the first ever telephone poll conducted by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) across Melanesia.. An overwhelming majority (75.4%) of respondents said yes to the question “Do you support independence for West Papua.” PiPP in a press release reported that when asked who they considered part of the Melanesian family, clear majorities included the established members (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included Timor-Leste. PiPP also reported that when asked “Do you support independence for West Papua?” there was very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%).

Collins underscored that these numbers suggest a “disconnect between popular support and the position taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed the West Papuan cause at the political level. He concluded, “we see that in the poll only 14.9% of respondents considered Indonesia to be part of the Melanesian family yet Indonesia has observer status but not West Papua. For the sake of the long term stability of the region we hope West Papua will be discussed at the leaders meeting.”

The meeting in Suva was controversial because Fiji is currently under military dictatorship.

WPAT Comment: West Papua is the largest Melanesian populated entity not represented within the MSG and the second largest Melanesian entity, after Papua New Guinea. Its continued exclusion from the MSG calls into question the legitimacy of the organization. Moreover, the MSG’s failure address the plight of Papuans, including ethnic cleansing under the rubric of “transmigration” and charges of “genocide” by credible organizations (see statement by Papuan church leaders above) exposes the lack of commitment among Melanesian leaders to the rights and welfare of Melanesian peoples. Vanuatu’s repeated and public expressions of concern about the plight of Papuans is a singular but noteworthy exception in this regard.

Nurses Jailed in Violation of International Convention

Mounting public pressure, including from members of the Papuan Provincial Assembly (DPRP), compelled the police to announce they would release eight nurses who had been jailed on charges of incitement (article 335 of the criminal code). However, purportedly because of the absence of a key police official required to sign the release order, it appears the nurses had not yet been released at the end of March.

These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail.

The eight had been jailed over their call for a strike by nurses at the DokII General Hospital. That strike, a peaceful, lawful labor action, was over promised but unpaid compensation. Letters have been sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as to Vice-President Boediono protesting the arrest of five nurses and midwives who work at the general hospital for organizing a strike.

The detention of the nurses violates their rights notably as set forth in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize), which was ratified by Indonesia in June 1998.

The issue of the unpaid compensation remains unresolved. The local daily Bintang Papua reported on March 23 that nurses and midwives had taken the issue to the DPRD and the provincial governor where hundreds demonstrated. They charged that the provincial secretary Constan Karmadi had deceived the public when he promised in December 2010 that incentives would be paid.

The medical staff are planning to make a formal complaint against the provincial secretary to the Administrative Court, pointing out that Instruction 125/2010 has been issued for the payment of the incentives, only to be cancelled by a later instruction that withdrew any such payments.

There is growing international attention to the arrests and the failure of the Indonesian government to meet is contract obligations to the nurses. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney has described the detention of the nurses as “outrageous” and called for their immediate release. She noted as well that “the arrests of the nurses, including two officials of the National Union of Indonesian nurses, was a heavy handed response to nurses pursuing a legitimate industrial campaign in support of their contracted entitlements. ”

“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail,” added Kearney.

Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in The Indonesian Criminal Code

The Papuan publication JUBI published an appeal on March 31 by the executive director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) Yan Christian Warinussy to the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP, Papuan Customary Council) to submit articles 106 and 107 of the criminal code on subversion and incitement (the ‘makar’ or subversion articles) of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) to the Constitutional Court for a judicial review.

“I call on DAP together with the Papuan people to seek a judicial review of the makar article before the Constitutional Court because it is no longer appropriate for such a law to remain in force in a democratic country like Indonesia. Other democratic states around the world don’t have such a law,” he said.

Many international organizations, including WPAT and ETAN have long called for the removal of these provisions from the Indonesian criminal code. The provisions date to the colonial era and were frequently used during the Suharto dictatorship to repress peaceful opposition. Indonesian officials continue to employ them to repress popular, peaceful dissent, particularly in West Papua where Suharto era practices, including unjust prosecution, persist.

The provisions violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights to which Indonesia is signatory.

Back issues of West Papua Report