Tag Archives: New York Agreement

Selpius Bobii: Clarification of the Standpoint of Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners

Opinion

by Selpius Bobii

June 28, 2013

The Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners in the Abepura State Prison of West Papua have received reports that certain printed and electronic news media reports from both within the Papuan nation and overseas have deviated from our statement on 23 May 2013 in rejection of the Indonesian President’s offer of clemency as published in the Cenderawasih Post on 23 May 2013. That statement was in response to the announcement by the Deputy Chairperson of DPRP Yunus Wonda that President SBY had made a commitment at the time he met with a contingent from Papua led by the Papuan Provincial Governor Lukas Enembe together with the Minister for Internal Affairs on 29 April 2013, to give all the Papuan Political Prisoners clemency at the time of the President’s upcoming visit to Papua in August 2013.

We the 26 political prisoners referred to, are most concerned to clarify that digression so that the public can understand the truth of our statement. Basically in that statement we announced our standpoint:

1)     That we reject the Indonesian President’s offer of clemency; and

2)      That we do not need to be released from prison but rather we need and demand the release of the nation of Papua from the colonial domination of the colonial state of the Republic of Indonesia.

Whilst this first point is self explanatory, the second needs further comment as to our reasons.  Firstly, WE HAVE DONE NO WRONG!  Accordingly we have never and will never make a plea for forgiveness in the form of clemency from the Head of the colonial Republic of Indonesia.  We have also never asked our families or legal counsel to make such a plea for clemency to the Indonesian President.  In fact we would firmly reject any such plea made by any party on our behalf.  As to put forward a plea for clemency would be to acknowledge we were wrong, to indicate we regretted our wrong and to acknowledge Papua as being a part of the Republic of Indonesia thereby asking the President’s forgiveness.  But who is it that is in the wrong such that SBY should give his forgiveness?

We the Freedom Political Prisoners have committed no wrong and we are not in need of forgiveness from the Head of State of the colonial Republic of Indonesia (RI)! In fact exactly the opposite. We demand that RI apologizes to the nation of Papua for the annexation of the nation of Papua into RI. An act which has given rise to discrimination, marginalisation and making us a minority in our ancestors’ land; to the degree that we are now heading for ethnic annihilation. Secondly we demand that RI acknowledges the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua.

Papuan Political Prisoners are also not in the wrong due to the following:

a)     The right to self-determination is the right of all nations in the same manner as is stated in the General Declaration of the United Nations (UN) and various international covenants including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and similarly even in the opening paragraph of the 1945 Indonesian Constitution.

b)    The Nation of Papua has the same right to full sovereignty and accordingly on 19 October 1961 in the first National Papuan Congress, the Papuan National Committee declared the ‘ Political Manifest of Independence of the Nation of Papua’ as the basis for receiving the status of full sovereignty.  Since then the 1 December has been celebrated in Jayapura and throughout all major towns in the land of Papua.

c)     In spite of the above the nation of Papua was annexed into RI with the ‘Three Community Commands’ (TRIKORA) by the then President Sukarno on 19 December 1961 which was followed up with a political and military invasion in 1962.

d)    The political invasion was realized through the unilateral agreement known as the ‘New York Agreement’ on 15 August 1962 between the Dutch and Indonesia as mediated by UN and drafted by USA, without any involvement of indigenous Papuans.

e)     The ‘Act of Free Choice’ was not implemented in accordance with the requirements of international law as provided for in the New York Agreement and in effect became implemented by Indonesia as the ‘Act of No Choice’ (or in other words the ‘Forced Community Opinion’). The so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ was flawed both legally and morally.

f)     The nation of Papua was at no time involved in the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia and neither did the nation of Papua ever freely agree to become a part of that Republic.

g)    Accordingly the occupation by RI of the land of Papua is illegal and immoral.

h)     Both the geographical location and culture of Papua are vastly different to that of the Malay race. The nation of Papua is of the Melanesian grouping of the Negroid Race.

We are being detained and imprisoned for the sake of the struggle to have the independence of Papua restored. The release of Papuan Political Prisoners from prison will never bring an end to the problems in Papua. It will never bring an end to the problem of the political history of Papua that has led to the consequences of discrimination, marginalisation, humanitarian evils, the creation of a minority in our ancestor’s lands and genocide against the ethnic Papuan race.

Even if we were to be released unconditionally we would once again return to be active in the struggle, we would once again raise the Papuan flag and RI through its armed forces would once again arrest and imprison us. So there is no point in releasing us. Rather release the nation of Papua from the colonial domination of the Republic of Indonesia.

For further details of the reasons for the rejection of the offer of President SBY’s offer of clemency see;
(www.majalahselangkah.com/content/mengapa-tapol-papua-tolak-grasi-#/2008) in Indonesian or for the English version (www.justiceinpapua.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-papuan-independence-political_118.html?m=1&zx=564946ed40cf2447).

To all media personnel whether from the printed media or electronic media, to the general community, those in the human rights area and all those who stand in solidarity with us whether inside Papua or overseas, we appeal to you to please publish this clarification so that the public can receive information that is accurate and reliable. For further information  readers are referred to:
(www.majalahselangkah.com/content/tapol-papua-tolak-rencana-grasi-minta-bebaskan-papua#).

For your anticipated help to spread this information widely and to include this clarification in both printed and electronic media we express our most sincere appreciation.

Abepura State Prison, 23 June 2013.

(As clarified by Selpius Bobii, one of the Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners)

 

West Papua Report December 2012

This is the 104th 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://www.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 directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.WPAT Note:

With the October 2012 edition, West Papua Report changed format: The Report now leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which lists of statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmc@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.Contents:

Perspective: Reflections on The New York Agreement by Dr. John Saltford

Update:

Chronicle:

Perspective

To mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the “New York Agreement” (September 1962) which led to Indonesian annexation of West Papua, we offer below a reflection regarding that agreement’s implications for West Papua. Dr. John Saltford, who has authored this Perspective, is an internationally respected scholar and author of The United Nations and The Indonesian Takeover of West Papua 1962-1969: The Anatomy of Betrayal.

Reflections on the 1962 New York Agreement

In October 1962 Dutch rule in West Papua ended and was replaced by a temporary UN administration (UNTEA). This was established as part of the UN-brokered New York Agreement [1], signed between The Netherlands and Indonesia to resolve their dispute over the territory. For all its flaws, this agreement guaranteed the Papuans the right to self-determination in accordance with international practice, but this never happened. Indonesia took over from the UN seven months later and never left.

In October 2012 Indonesian security forces attacked peaceful political rallies in several West Papuan cities and intensified sweep operations in the Central Highlands forcing hundreds of villagers to flee [2]. These were not isolated incidents. According to Amnesty International, fifty years after the New York Agreement, Indonesia continues to deny Papuans their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly [3]. A good reason therefore to re-examine the origins of this agreement, its content and implementation.

In 1949 the Dutch ceded sovereignty of the Netherlands East Indies to the new Indonesian Republic but kept West Papua, not least because they reasoned that the Papuans were ethnically and culturally completely different to the Indonesians. Over the next thirteen years preparations for West Papuan independence progressed in the face of increasingly strong opposition from Jakarta which claimed the territory for itself.

But arguments over who should determine West Papua’s future were superseded by the August 1962 signing of the New York Agreement, and its acknowledgement that it was for the Papuans, and no one else, to decide whether the territory should become an independent state or a province of Indonesia.

The transfer of administration from Dutch to UN control was the first stage of the agreement. But from the start, instead of safeguarding Papuan political and human rights, UNTEA’s priority was simply to hand the territory over to Indonesia as quickly as possible. As one senior UN administrator privately reported:

“I have yet to meet any thinking, sober, generally responsible Papuan who sees any good in the coming link with Indonesia. Unwelcome as the anxiety and resistance of thinking Papuans maybe it is of course hardly surprising if one is not under pressure to close one’s eyes to what is in fact happening to this people at the hands of the three parties to the Agreement.” [4]

Once UNTEA had withdrawn, Article 16 specified that some UN experts were to remain to advise and assist the Indonesians in preparations for Papuan self-determination that was to take place before the end of 1969. But these experts were never deployed because Indonesia objected.

Under Article 17, one year prior to self-determination, the Secretary-General was to appoint a representative to lead a team of UN officials, including those already stationed in the territory. Their task was to continue to build on the work outlined in Article 16 and remain until the act of self-determination was complete.

A Bolivian, Ortiz Sanz, was appointed but, as he made clear in his official report [5], the non-implementation of Article 16 meant that there were no experienced UN staff in the territory for him to lead. Instead he was left with a newly arrived team of 16 who were supposed to advise and participate in an act of self-determination covering a territory roughly the size of California.

Under Article 22, the UN and Indonesia had to guarantee fully the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement, and of assembly of the Papuans. These rights were not upheld and the official 1969 UN report concedes that “the (Indonesian) Administration exercised at all times a tight political control over the population.” [6]

Under Article 18, all adult Papuans had the right to participate in an act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice.

This central tenet of the agreement was never implemented. Instead, with no genuine involvement by the population, the UN effectively stood by as Indonesia hand-picked, bribed and threatened 1,022 Papuans to take part in the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” – a series of theatrical ceremonies in which the selected Papuans stood up on command to indicate unanimous consent for integration with Indonesia. The final wording of the UN report says only that the procedure had been carried out in accordance with “Indonesian” and not “international” practice as required by the agreement.

One could argue “International Practice” is too vague a term here to have any meaning. But in fact, acceptable international practice had been set out in UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of December 1960. This specified the circumstances under which a non-self governing territory (which West Papua was) could integrate with an independent state.

In particular, Principle IX states:

“The integration should be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the territory’s peoples acting with full knowledge of the change in their status, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based upon universal adult suffrage.” [7 ]

Clearly the “Act of Free Choice” did not even begin to fulfill these conditions.

This all happened decades ago and some claim there is little point arguing about the past. It is the future that matters. But I believe a proper acknowledgement of the truth, by Jakarta, the Netherlands, and the UN, is a necessary step towards finding a just and lasting solution to the tragedy of West Papua. [8]

[1] General Assembly Official Records United Nations, 17th Session, Annexes Agenda item 89, Doc A/5170, Annex of 20 August 1962, Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea (West Irian).

[2] WPAT/ETAN, West Papua Report, November 2012

[3] Amnesty International. Annual Report, Indonesia, 2012

[4] Report by G. Rawlings (Divisional Commissioner, Biak) to Somerville, UNTEA Internal Affairs Director, 12 December 1962, UN Archives, DAG 13/2.1.0.1:3

[5] Twenty-Fourth Session, Agenda item 98: Report of the Secretary-General Regarding the Act of Self-determination in West Irian. A/7723, 6 November 1969. [Including Annex I, Report by Ortiz Sanz, and Annex II, Report of the Indonesian Government].

[6] ibid

[7] General Assembly Official Records United Nations, 15th Session, 948th plenary meeting, Resolution 1541, 15 December 1960, Principles which should guide members in determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73e of the Charter, Annex Principle ix.

[8] These topics are addressed in more detail in the author’s book: John Saltford, The United Nations and the Indonesia Takeover of West Papua, 1962-1969: The Anatomy of Betrayal(London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).

Update

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Expresses Concerns about West Papua During Jakarta Visit

At a November 13 press conference in Jakarta, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay called on the Indonesian government to implement international human rights standards legislatively at local and national levels

She publicly encouraged the government “to move forward with setting up ad hoc human rights courts, as envisaged under law No. 26/2000, to investigate the enforced disappearances of student activists in the late 1990s and serious violations in Aceh and Papua.” She said that she had learned more about the “extent and egregious nature of past violations of human rights, from the killings of communists in 1965 and of students in the late 1990s, to later crimes in the Aceh region and what is now Timor-Leste.” She called for “credible prosecutions of perpetrators.”

In meetings with senior Indonesian officials she also raised concerns about increased violence in Papua this year. Pillay said that she “recommended that the Government take further steps to ensure criminal accountability. I was also concerned to hear about activists being imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.”

Pillay welcomed the Indonesian government’s decision to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to Indonesia.

(WPAT Note: It is unclear whether the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Indonesia will include West Papua. Given the extensive violations of freedom of expression in West Papua, particularly over the peaceful display of symbols such as the morning star flag, no visit to Indonesia by this Special Rapporteur could be considered meaningful or complete without a visit to West Papua.)

see also Human Rights Watch: I ndonesia: UN Rights Visit Can Challenge Discrimination, Impunity, Plight of Religious Minorities and Papua Abuses Are Serious, Ongoing Problems

Indonesian Security Authorities Disrupt Peaceful December 1 Rallies

Security forces arrested several people who sought to peacefully mark the 51st anniversary of West Papua’s independence. Initial reports indicate Indonesian security authorities employed tear gas to break up a demonstration in Jayapura (Port Numbay). Rallies were also planned to be held in Sorong, Nabire, Fak Fak, Manokwari, Wamena,, Timika and Serui.

U.S. Ambassador Visits West Papua – Lauds Indonesian Military

U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel visited West Papua in early November in what State Department officials described to West Papua Report as one of a series of periodic visits by the Ambassador to West Papua. Marciel met with members of the Papuan Provincial Assembly (DPRP), the Papuan Peoples Council (MRP), senior members of the Provincial Military Command and the Inspector General of the Police Force. State Department officials told WPAT Marciel also met with civil society groups.

According to a November 7 report in Bintang Papua, translated by TAPOL, Marciel told senior military officials that the US was very impressed by the developments that the TNI (the Indonesian army) had achieved including its “reforms.”

(WPAT Comment: It is unclear what reforms Marciel was referring to nor is there any indication that the US Ambassador raised the TNI’s ongoing military sweep operations that jeopardize the lives of Papuan civilians.)

In response to the ambassador’s question as to why the duties of the military command in West Papua were so much greater there than elsewhere and required such a different approach, the chief of staff said that the military were acting in accordance with their “duties” as ‘Noble Protectors of the People’ (Ksatria Pelindung Rakyat).

(WPAT Comment: The military, under the Suharto dictatorship and since, has drawn upon its role as so-called “Noble Protectors of the People” as the basis for its intrusion into civilian affairs and to justify its substantial commercial interests. See The Role of ABRI in the Post-Suharto Era [PDF])

In his meeting with DPRP (Papuan Parliament) members, Marciel raised the two-year delay in holding of elections for Governor. DPRP members acknowledged that because of the continued absence of an elected governor, no budget had been produced and there was no one who could take responsibility for finances. This was described by DPRP members as having “serious consequences for the people.”

In his meeting with senior police officials, the Ambassador reportedly urged that the police pursue a lenient approach. The police should not be seen as solely involved in arresting and detaining people, and the police should put a priority on activities which  bring them close to the people. The Ambassador spoke positively about US cooperation with the police in future years.

Papuans Marginalized in Employment

According to the November 20 Tabloid Jubi(translated by TAPOL), the acting governor of Papua province Constan Karma, spoken about the marginalization of Papuans in employment: “In the competition for jobs, the people with better qualifications always succeed. Indigenous Papuans are not yet able to compete with people who have come from elsewhere because they have better qualifications. The result is that more and more indigenous Papuans are unemployed and this is causing social tensions.”

Sweep Operations Drive More Papuan Civilians into Papuan Forests

A report by Elsham revealed that 38 civilians who fled their village of in Keerom District in July remain in the forest. They fled because of five-month sweep operation conducted by the Indonesian military and police in the area. The displaced are subsisting on sago and worms, and children have been unable to attend school.

Security Forces Target Peaceful Dissent

Indonesian security authorities, especially Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) and the U.S.-backed police unit Detachment 88 are continuing to persecute leading members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). In October, Indonesian special forces sought in vain to detain prominent women’s and environmentalist activist Fanny Kogoya who, earlier this year, was elected to head the Papua desk for the WALHI, Indonesian branch of Friends of the Earth. The security forces also targeted students associated with her work. Kogoya, also a women’s rights defender from the grassroots Papuan Women’s Network TIKI, has been placed on a Papua wide wanted persons list (Daftar Pencarian Orang or DPO) by the U.S. and Australian-trained and funded Detachment 88 anti-terror investigators.

Calls for Security Force Accountability in West Papua Multiply

A number of prominent human rights organizations and prominent civil society figures have recently called for human rights accountability in West Papua.

The human rights watchdog Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam) has once again urged the government to prosecute unfinished human rights violation cases. According to Elsam executive director Indriaswati D. Saptaningrum, most of the perpetrators involved in human rights violations “still walk free, as the government has kept silent.” (The Elsam comments were made during the commemoration of International Day to End Impunity. The international commemoration day is observed by human rights activists to call on governments to bring justice for those who were killed or kidnapped when they tried to defend their freedom of expression.)

Budi Setyanto, a lawyer who is the director of the Institute for Civil Strengthening. Setyanto called “extremely serious” the fact that many human rights violations against the indigenous Papuan people have never been resolved. “‘This matter needs to be resolved  by the government which should make an inventory of all the cases that have occurred so that the general public is aware of the many cases that have not be resolved,” he said.

He also said that the Papuan provincial governors and provincial administrations should participate in this work, by setting up a special team to draw up a comprehensive list of all the violations that have occurred. “This is a matter,” he said, “that needs the full attention of the government and should not be dealt with in a half-hearted way.”

Separately, Suciwati, the widow of the murdered human rights champion Munir Said Thalib, visited the Jayapura grave of Papuan political leader Theys Eluay on the anniversary of his November 10, 1991 murder by Kopassus. Suciwati used the occasion to speak out against the many inadequately resolved murder cases in West Papua. “Our society is too forgiving, too easy to forget. We must change this. They can kill Munir, Theys for speaking out the truth but they can’t kill the truth itself,” Suciwati said.

Boy, Eluay’s son, said Papua desperately needs support from activists in Jakarta and elsewhere. Security officials in Papua always view human rights protests as separatist, he said. Law enforcers “always have a stigma and when we do any activity related to human rights they come and attach that stigma…. Support from friends outside of Papua is needed for the state to put that stigma away. He added that “If a big person like Theys can be murdered what would happen to the rest of us? We don’t want our children to be future victims of such atrocity,” he said. “It is time for the victims’ families to do a more organized act for justice and human rights in Papua.”

(WPAT Comment: The Indonesian government’s failure, over many decades, to address security force impunity for human rights violations throughout the archipelago, but especially in West Papua, exacerbates the climate of fear and intimidation that engulfs target populations such as the Papuans.)

Chronicle

Article Reveals Absence of Government Services in Much of West Papua

Inside Indonesia, November 25, published a highly revealing account of the reality of life in West Papua, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Papuans live. The author, Bobby Anderson, writes in “Living without A State,” that West Papua ranks last out of all 33 Indonesian provinces according to Human Development Indicator measurements. He observes that in most places outside of the towns, Papuans do not reject the Indonesian state. Rather, the state simply plays little or no role in their lives, for better or for worse. Across large parts of the highlands, there is little evidence of the state other than empty schools, health clinics, and hospitals. Civil servants, police, and military are few and far between. “The essential problem of health and education services in the highlands is not lack of physical structures, but poor management of human resources in these areas. New buildings remain empty, and although civil servants are theoretically assigned to work in these areas, the vast majority of them are not present in their duty stations. This is the norm across the highlands.”

Anderson describes one subdistrict in particular, Lolat, created in 2002, where there are almost no government services. Visibly malnourished children in the area show bloated stomachs and stunted growth. “A local NGO, Yasumat, runs five parallel schools, 19 health clinics, and four health posts. While paid teachers and health care workers are absent, a cadre of local volunteers strives to provide needed service,” Anderson writes.

Immunization programs do not exist in remote areas. No immunizations have been provided by the district government outside of intermittent offerings in the town of Dekai in the last ten years. “TB and HIV rates in Lolat are unknown, but the number of young men, women, and children dying of unknown causes is out of proportion to the already abysmal provincial averages. It seems likely that men working in the cities as part of the construction boom caused by the proliferation of new districts are contracting HIV and bringing it home with them. Just as HIV infection levels are unknown, so are condoms, which have never been seen in the area,” reports Anderson.

The end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 brought new hardships. A planned takeover of local governance by new state institutions effectively never happened. Instead, the “takeover” resulted in the breakdown of the established system. According to Anderson, “There was no period of transition and no handover.” He also reveals the failure of “Special Autonomy,” introduced in 2001 as a way to relieve pressures for independence, address Papua’s underdevelopment and improve service delivery. The policy, he notes, led to “a dramatic increase in government funds available for development purposes. However, an overstaffed and under-performing provincial bureaucracy absorbs the majority of Special Autonomy funds.”

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1212wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report


 

Open Letter from Forkorus in Abepura prison to PNG Prime Minister

Reprinted in full:

FEDERATED REPUBLIC OF WEST PAPUA

ABEPURA PRISON, JAYAPURA, WEST PAPUA

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill
PO Box 472
Port Moresby, NCD 121
Papua New Guinea
5 October 2012

Dear Prime Minister,

Excellency, I am writing from Abepura Prison in Jayapura on the other side of the border, to wish you well during your term as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

I am writing also to thank you for your demonstration of Melanesian leadership last
week in speaking out about human rights violations in West Papua.
We West Papuans have been intimidated, tortured, raped, killed and incarcerated for
decades, since 1962 to be precise, and our suffering has been ignored by the world,
including by the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Island Forum. Your words
last week, committing to some responsibility for your brothers and sisters in West
Papua, filled our hearts and we hope will relieve us somewhat of our burden.

Excellency, security for all my people has been so much worse since our congress in October 2011, and safety levels are now so low that I feel obliged to ask you, if not beg you, to initiate a United Nations’ fact-finding mission as soon as possible.

As you would know, West Papua was a colony of the Netherlands for sixty-four
years, but was transferred to Indonesia in 1962 by way of a duplicitous treaty
engineered by Australia and the United States. (The New York Agreement was in
fact a Cold War transaction that rode over the intentions of the South Pacific
Commission to develop our independence program). As a consequence of Indonesian
governance, which has been deplorable across all measurable sectors, we Melanesian
West Papuans now constitute 48.73% of the population, down from 96.09% fifty year
ago, with more than half-a-million (546,126) missing.

Excellency, during the 3rd Papuan Congress in October 2011, five thousand registered participants mandated the Federated Republic of West Papua to deliver independence, and as part of our liberation win back the western border of Melanesia.

I believe Papua New Guinea under your leadership is in a strong position to help
deliver the political change we need if we are to survive. Your voice, as kin and as
neighbour, will be listened to in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, in the Pacific
Islands Forum, the Africa Caribbean Pacific Committee, and also the United Nations.
I sincerely hope Prime Minister that you are willing to take some responsibility for
ending this occupation so that we in West Papua can take our rightful position
alongside the other Melanesia nation-states.

Yours sincerely,

Forkorus Yaboisembut, SPd
President, Federated Republic of West Papua

Abepura Prison

 

Movement Against Freeport is set up by Papuan Students

Bintang Papua,28 October 2011

A number of UNCEN student organisations along with the KNPB, the
National Committee for West Papua, have announced the establishment of
a movement to oppose Freeport. They regard this company as having been
the cause of many problems in Papua. The students unfurled two banners,
one of which depicts the US flag intertwined with the logo of Freeport,

The new organisation is called People’s Movement Against Freeport Crimes
– Gerklaf. The co-ordinator of the new organisation is Fanny Kogoya and
Bovid Defa is the secretary.At the end of the ceremony, the US flag was
set on fire. This opposition movement regards the presence of Freeport
as having come about as the result of a political contract between the
USA and its allies in order to ensure the continuance of Papua within
the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.

The integration of Papua within Indonesia, according to wording on the
banners, goes back to 1963 and the New York Agreement of 1963, the
contract concluded with Freeport in 1967, the Act of Free Choice in 1969
and the Bunker Proposal [Bunker was the US diplomat who was involved in
the conclusion of the New York Agreement.].

Before the declaration was announced, the leaders of eight student
organisation delivered speeches. Fanny Kogoya said that the new movement
would press for the consolidation of the movement throughout the whole
of Papua, to strengthen opposition to Freeport.

They also said that any plans to renegotiate the contract with Freeport
should involve indigenous Papua people.[This is a reminder of the fact
that past contracts with Freeport have all been concluded with the
Indonesian government, without the presence of the representatives of
the Papuan people.]

The declaration that was read out by Bovid called on the one hand for
the expulsion of Freeport, while on the other hand saying that Freeport
should become the property of the Papuan people.The words on the banner
were:’The Papuan people must assert their sovereignty over their
natural resources.’

West Papua: the road to freedom?

Benny Wenda at the IPWP launch
Image via Wikipedia
Published on August 4, 2011 by Nick Harvey  in
New Internationalist
http://www.newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2011/08/04/west-papua-protests-independence/

West Papua: the road to freedom

Web exclusive

This week marks the 48th anniversary of the West Papuan struggle for independence from Indonesia. Thousands have taken to the streets and international lawyers are making a strong case for West Papuan self-rule.

Thousands have demonstrated on the streets of West Papua in recent weeks demanding independence. Free West Papua Campaign
Thousands have demonstrated on the streets of West Papua in recent weeks demanding independence. Free West Papua Campaign

It is a grief-stricken path that has been followed for generations. It stretches from when the Dutch colonized the region in the 19th century and cruelly continued when control was handed to Indonesia by a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority in 1963. And this week the journey towards independence has led thousands of West Papuans onto the streets to demand the international community acknowledge their right to be free.

‘West Papuans will never recognize their homeland as being part of Indonesia and we have a fundamental right to self-determination under international law,’ says Benny Wenda, a West Papua independence leader living in exile in Britain. ‘West Papuans have marched peacefully this week and have shown again that they can meet violence with peace to achieve this [aim], no matter how much [Indonesia] tries to intimidate us.’

‘A blind eye has been most cynically turned by the international community towards the situation of the people in West Papua’

Protesters and human rights campaigners are regularly harassed and arrested in West Papua and, according to Amnesty International, reports of torture whilst in detention and other human rights violations are commonplace. But with momentum building for the cause, the police have been reluctant to intervene in the recent protests.

‘The demonstrations were so big this time they know if they act violently towards the protesters it would be noticed internationally,’ says Wenda. ‘We have been trying for 48 years now and, just like the Middle East, we need people power to change the world – but we also need people from around the world to notice.’

One of the biggest obstacles that the Free West Papua campaign faces is a lack of interest, let alone support, from the outside world.

Forgotten conflict

‘West Papua is a forgotten conflict,’ says Charles Foster, spokesperson for International Lawyers for West Papua. ‘A blind eye has been most cynically turned by the international community towards the situation of the people there.’

As part of efforts to raise the profile of the region, a conference was held in Oxford this week by the Free West Papua campaign. International lawyers and activists spoke at the event to highlight the case for an independent West Papua under international law.

Nick
Harvey
Benny Wenda and fellow West Papuans sing their national anthem at a conference in Oxford. Nick Harvey

‘In legal terms, the region has a clear right to self-determination,’ says Foster. ‘If you look at the New York Agreement [a treaty signed in 1962 by the Netherlands and Indonesia regarding the political status of West Papua, then known as West New Guinea] the United Nations was given trustee status over the region which was supposed to lead to self-determination in 1969. Indonesia has never disputed the fact it put its name to this agreement; therefore it implicitly acknowledges that it was bound by it.’

But the New York Agreement was followed in 1969 by the ironically titled Act of Free Choice, a vote by a tiny section of the population of West Papua, hand-picked by the Indonesian military, on whether the region should become independent or remain part of Indonesia. Although it has since been widely recognized that the process was a sham, calls for a revote have consistently been ignored.

‘There is no serious legal scholar anywhere in the world who thinks the Act of Free Choice was a genuine expression of the free will of the West Papuan people,’ says Foster. ‘When Indonesians talk about this they try to steer clear of what actually happened on the ground in 1969. They’re not stupid, they realize how embarrassing it is.’

As long as the international inertia continues, the situation for West Papuans continues to worsen

Yet even if the New York Agreement is somehow forgotten and the circumstances surrounding the Act of Free Choice somehow ignored, international law still falls heavily on the side of the West Papuans. In 1960 the UN General assembly passed a crucial agreement, the Declaration of Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which states: ‘All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.’

This firm legal ground has yet to translate into any meaningful concessions to the West Papuan people. And as long as the international inertia continues, the situation for West Papuans continues to worsen.

Clemens Runawery is an exiled independence activist who has been unable to return to his country for more than 40 years.

‘The longer we stay part of Indonesia the more our status will suffer, both physically and demographically,’ he says. ‘Back in 1961 the vast majority of the people in West Papua were West Papuan, with only a minority from other places. Today this situation has been completely reversed. How much time do we really have left?’