Tag Archives: nonviolence

Jared Diamond: Don’t assist the Indonesian occupation

by Jason Mcleod

February 21, 2013

Opinion/Review

Diamond’s observations, made in his recent book The World until Yesterday,  that West Papuans are ‘warlike’ and that the state and development are forces for good need to be chucked in the academic dustbin. They don’t stack up against the evidence and in the case of West Papua help perpetuate ideas that are used to justify the ongoing Indonesian occupation.

Take his claim that Indigenous Papuans like those from the Dani nation are warlike, locked in perpetual combat with their neighbours, and bereft of role models, structures or processes that help pull them out of cycles of violent retribution. In reality Dani leaders like Benny Wenda, Sofyan Yoman, Dominikus Surabut, and Fanny Kogoya are at the forefront of a nationwide nonviolent rebellion against Indonesian occupation. This is not a recent phenomenon. Papuans from Biak, for instance, were engaging in acts of peaceful defiance as early as 1910, twenty years before Gandhi launched his salt satyagraha against British rule. They defied bans against traditional singing and dancing, organised collective tax resistance and initiated labour strikes in protest of Dutch colonialism. Alliances like KNPB, the West Papua National Committee also continue determined nonviolent resistance even as the Indonesian military tries to wipe them out, killing 22 KNPB activists in 2012 alone.

As for not cooperating across tribal boundaries, people like Dominikus Surabut, currently imprisoned by the Indonesian state for peacefully declaring independence from Indonesia, are part of a Pan-Papuan tribal confederacy, the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP) and the Federal Republic of West Papua. If you visit the DAP leader and FRWP president elect, Forkorus’s Yaboisembut’s home on the coast, you will see a Dani gate gracing the front entrance. While Papuans from different highland and island tribes will greet you and make you feel welcome you won’t be able to meet Mr Yaboisembut because like Mr Surabut he is also in jail for leading a nonviolent insurrection.

But you won’t find any of this in The World until Yesterday. Diamond fails to mention the occupation and fails to mention the fact that the West Papuan struggle for freedom is the largest nonviolent movement in the Pacific. We are not just talking about a handful of activists, but tens of thousands of Papuans who have gone on strike, occupied parliament, set up parallel government structures and are using the latest digital technology to demolish the Indonesian government’s refusal to give the international media free reign to report on what is happening.

Diamond’s other suggestion that the twin forces of industrialization and states are helping bringing development and peace to societies once isolated and trapped in a perpetual cycle of inter-tribal war has been labeled by Survival International, an indigenous human rights organisation, as “dangerous nonsense”. In West Papua large scale development like the giant Freeport/Rio Tinto gold and copper mine has displaced the local landowners the Amungme and Kamoro. Far from bringing development the company’s theft of land and resources has impoverished them. Freeport’s policy of paying the Indonesian military and police to provide security has led to a mounting death toll that numbers in at least the hundreds. Demands for independent forensic human rights investigations are repeatedly ignored by the Indonesian government and Freeport. Despite this Papuans from groups like Tongoi Papua, an independent Papuan labour union of Freeport mine workers who in 2006 won a 100% wage increase though collective nonviolent action, are working together, across tribal boundaries, to press for the freedom to organise and greater rights.

As for the Indonesian government bringing peace to West Papua; that is laughable. The Indonesian government has occupied West Papua since 1963. They maintain their rule through brutal force, ably assisted I might add, by foreign governments like Australia, the U.S and others. Rev. Sofyan Yoman from the Baptist Church, and other Papuans, call it “slow-motion genocide”. But again, don’t expect to read that in Diamond’s book.

Diamond’s observations about our collective past are often insightful but in the case of West Papua his ossified ideas about warlike Papuans and his praise of the state and development are at best, highly contested.

They also assist the Indonesian occupation.

Dr J MacLeod, University of Queensland

 

West Papua update – stirrings of insurrection. Please pass on….

Forwarding from Jason McLeod

Friends, A brief update:

1. After occupying parliament for two days the police threatened to use force to disperse the crowd (about 1500 stayed overnight). Protesters leaders then called the occupation off.
2. Significantly all protesters – moderates and radicals alike – withdrew in an orderly and disciplined manner. (Remember the last time there was an occupation like this – when students blockaded the road between Jayapura and the airport in March 2006 over the Freeport mine – it ended up in a riot with Indonesian security personnel stoned to death, retaliatory action by the paramilitary police with student dormitories ransacked and scores killed, beaten and tortured, hundreds of students fleeing to PNG, and a severely traumatised student population that is only re-grouping now).
3. This is not a radical protest although student activists from both the KNPB (West Papua National Committee) and WPNA (West Papua National Authority) are involved. However the protest is led by respected church leaders and backed by the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP – or indigenous Papuan upper house). Moderate NGO leaders are also involved. In fact, all components of Papuan society are involved.
4. There are now negotiations and political manoeuvrings to try and secure Papuan political leaders support to hand back Special Autonomy
5. To what extent the Papuan civil service (PNS) is being drawn in is not yet clear, but there is widespread dissatisfaction with Special Autonomy by members form the PNS who are a major beneficiary of Special Autonomy along with the Papuan political elite.
6. Equally true we know militias have been armed and that the police are out in force but it is not clear what their movements will be.
7. Another demonstration has been called for 19 July
8. Papuans have called for foreign governments to withhold all funds for Special Autonomy until there has been a dialogue with Jakarta to resolve the crisis.

Please pass this round your networks.

Warmly

Jason

Photos from July 8 Jayapura DPRP Mass Civil gathering

Photographs of the Mass Actions in Jayapura on July 8 are beginning to emerge.  Please stay tuned for more updates.
Click on images below to view in full size

For original files for publication please download the following rar file (use Winrar to unpack):
http://rapidshare.com/files/406094393/WEST_PAPUA_MASS_ACTIONS_july_8__2010.rar

Please credit West Papua Media Alerts