Tag Archives: Pacific Islands Forum

WEST PAPUA: ABC report raises questions for region’s leaders

by Alex Perrottet / Pacific Media Watch

A photo provided to West Papua Media Alerts after the violence at the Abepura dormitory yesterday. Photo: West Papua Media Alerts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Item: 8075

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Fresh allegations of human rights violations in West Papua implicating Australia on ABC’s 7:30 Report series this week have opened up multiple questions for leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum on Rarotonga.

As new reports have emerged from West Papua Media Alerts of new violence at a school dormitory in Abepura, the 7:30 Report series – screened on Monday and Tuesday nights – shone new lights on the ongoing accusation that the Australian government is responsible for the training and financing of the anti-terrorist group Detachment 88, or Densus 88, as it is known in Indonesia.

The group was originally trained to combat terrorism in Indonesia following the deadly bombing in Bali in October 2002, which claimed 88 Australian lives.

But in recent months media reports have spread, mainly from West Papua Media Alerts, that the anti-terrorist group was being deployed in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, supressing insurgents as well as peaceful demonstrators.

Presence confirmed
The ABC interviewed Constant Karma, who is the secretary of the province of Papua. He said: “I don’t really know about West Papua but in the Papuan Police (Polda Papua) there [is] also Detachment 88 on duty.”

Apart from the reports from within West Papua by reporters Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main, ABC presenter Leigh Sales put questions to Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who confirmed the Australian government had raised its concerns with human rights abuses in the two West Papuan regional provinces as recently as earlier this month.

Senator Carr said the Australian training included training in respecting human rights, but the ABC reports featured a number of eye-witnesses to violence in West Papua at the hands of police as well as Detachment 88 troops, including in the recent killing of independence leader Mako Tabuni.

Senator Carr told the ABC: “We train Indonesians in counter-terrorism. We do that because it’s in Australia’s interest. We do it because we want the Indonesians to have a strong, a formidable, anti-terrorist capacity. It is absolutely in Australia’s interests that we have this relationship.

“But we don’t train them in counter-insurgency – it’s counter-terrorism.”

‘No distinction’
However, the ABC also sought comment from the Australian Federal Police, which made this admission in their responses:

“Detachment 88 is a specialist counter terrorism unit within the Indonesian National Police, however it should be noted that Indonesian law does not differentiate between terrorism, separatism and insurgency.”

In response to the reports, political parties and human rights groups have released statements urging leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum to take notice.

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, based in Vanuatu, said the violence was nothing new.

“Violence has always been Indonesia’s policy regarding the land of Papua over the past 49 years. Being an occupying power, violence is their only means of enforcing their authority in the Papuan society,” said spokespersons Rex Rumakiek, Dr John Ondowame and Andy Ayamiseba.

“For almost half a century since Indonesia annexed West Papua, our people have been subjected to terror and trauma.”

Political reaction
The Democratic Labor Party in Australia said the situation was “genocide happening on our doorstep”.

Senator John Madigan and Democratic Labor Party federal secretary Mark Farrell said: “Indonesia is not being transparent with the Australian people or the Australian government.

“It is difficult to understand how the government of a democratic country like Australia can ignore the oppressive behaviour of a neighbouring country.”

The Green Party of Australia also voiced their concern, with Senator Richard Di Natale drawing comparisons with East Timor.

“Australians are now becoming more aware of these atrocities being committed on their doorstep,” he said.

“They know what happened in East Timor under Indonesian rule and they know that we, as a nation, cannot sit idly by while it occurs again in West Papua.”

Joe Collins of the Australian West Papua Association said the PIF should take up the Indonesian government’s offer to encourage research and balanced journalism by sending a fact-finding mission from the Forum.

He also encouraged Pacific leaders to raise the matter with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“The Leaders’ retreat is supposed to provide an opportunity for private and frank discussions at the highest level and we hope that the PIF leaders will question Julia Gillard on Australia’s involvement in the training of Detachment 88 which is accused of targeting West Papuan activists,” he said.

“We also hope that concern for the situation in West Papua will be mentioned in the official Forum communiqué”.

The Democratic Labor Party statement also argued for observers to visit.

“If Indonesia is seriously expecting us to believe it is not engaged in the oppression of the West Papuan people then they must allow human rights observers and international journalists in to the country.”

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation is pushing for more, calling on the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the PIF, as well as the US, the UK, the European Union and others “to sponsor a resolution at the UNGA(United Nations General Assembly) to re-inscribe West Papua on the UN List for Decolonisation.

“We also call on MSG and PIF to admit the West Papuan Independence Movement as an observer of these bodies as a sure way of encouraging peaceful solution to the conflict.”

One confirmed dead
The violence in Abepura yesterday was confirmed by West Papua Media Alerts, who reported one student being killed, and others badly wounded.

The news agency said the violence was carried out at the Liborang Asrama (dormitory) by a joint force of Army (TNI) and Police.

“The students were allegedly targeted because they come from the same tribal group as many members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), who have been consistently engaging in peaceful civil resistance in protest at the increasing terror tactics of the Indonesian security forces, which has escalated significantly since May 2012.”

West Papua Media Alerts confirmed today that 35 people had been arrested and 11 remained in custody after being subjected to beatings and torture.

The Indonesian embassy in Canberra, in response to questions from the ABC said the government was taking action.

The statement said the loss of life “is regrettable and is receiving attention from the Indonesian people, the media, and the President of the Republic of Indonesia himself”.

“The Indonesian government has taken steps to restore law-enforcement in the Papuan provinces.”

Just how it is doing that is the focus of the media attention that West Papua is receiving, and as in previous years, the Pacific Islands Forum is so far remaining silent on the issue.

Pacific cannot be truly free until West Papua is free, say activists

From our partners at Pacific Media Centre

West Papuan protesters demonstrate at Auckland University when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a speech. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Asia-Pacific Journalism, Pacific Media Centre

14 September, 2011

Henry Yamo

Free West Papua” … the Pacific isn’t free until West Papua is free. That is the four-decades-old West Papuan slogan that reverberated for a week as the Pacific islands countries gathered for the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand.

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Dr John Ondawame from the West Papua People’s Representative Office in Vanuatu says: “Our call to the leaders of all Pacific countries is to support the West Papua peoples’ call for peace talks between the government of Indonesia and the people of West Papua.”

Pacific leaders must remember that the Pacific will never be free unless West Papua is free from the current oppression and atrocities that have lasted for more than 40 years caused by the Indonesian government, he says.

Dr Ondawame says their concerns are voiced particularly to their Melanesian neighbour countries to call on the government of Indonesia to take decisive decision on suggested peace talks and recommend a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua.

“We are calling as Melanesian brothers and are very keen to meet with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu who has indicated to support our call,” he says.

“We also want to lobby with leaders from other Melanesian and Pacific countries to support Vanuatu when it raises the West Papua,” he said.

Fundamental right
The member for Te Tai Tokerau electorate and founding leader of the Mana Party in New Zealand, Hone Harawira, says he supports the cause of West Papuans because freedom is a fundamental right.

“As Pacific islanders we can only be totally free if West Papuans who are also from the Pacific are completely free from the current oppression,” says Harawira.

Jo Collins ... abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry  Yamo / PMC

Jo Collins … abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

This was reinforced by the spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, who says the Forum has to realise the abuses have been going on for many years and will not go away.

“People get shot or get burnt; tortures are carried out publicly on the streets so that it creates fear among the people.  The level of spying on West Papuans is very high, starting in villages and into towns and cities,” he says.

West Papua is one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific region. The international and Pacific governments should pay more attention to the level of torture and atrocities being experienced by the people.

Dr Ondawame says the freedom of West Papua is a Pacific issue that has received “embarrassingly  little” attention from Pacific countries while the United States and United Kingdom have made their position clear, calling for constructive and peaceful dialogue.

“At least Melanesian countries must act and we are pleased that Vanuatu is the only country that has come forward to firmly support the aspirations and independence of West Papua while our very close neighbour PNG has been silent and has been working closely with Indonesia,” he says.

Call for UN action
The United Nations cannot do much with human rights issues in West Papua unless Pacific Island countries unite and call for UN action.

Rex Rumakiek ... seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Rex Rumakiek … seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPCNL) Rex Rumakiek says: “West Papua has been part of the Pacific since the establishment of the South Pacific Commission and also as founding member of the Pacific Conference of Churches set up in 1956.

“And so it is timely for our Pacific brothers to adhere to our concerns when the opportunity arose. We are here to seek that support.”

Rumakiek says the people of West Papua will continue to take up the call until a peaceful solution to the problems is found, ending the shameful atrocities encountered.

Meanwhile, activist Paula Makabory says their struggle is not a fight against the Indonesian government but also against imperialism and neo-colonialism.  It is about being Melanesian within Indonesia.

“Shouting West Papua or free West Papua or even displaying the West Papua flag in West Papua has landed people in jail for 15-20 years or have been beaten very badly that some eventually succumb to their injuries.”

She says even though Indonesia has rectified civil and political rights under the UN treaty, West Papuans are constantly under military surveillance and humiliated every now and then.

Their united call is for the Forum to support their call for a peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government and to grant West Papuan representatives observer status at their annual conferences.

The West Papuans believe that the Forum cannot say it promotes regional stability, while overlooking and neglecting the deadliest issue that has dragged on for over four decades.

Henry Yamo is a postgraduate journalist on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University’s School of Communication Studies.

More coverage on the West Papua issue at the Pacific Islands Forum

NZ: Harawira discusses West Papua with Ban Ki-moon

Mana Party Hone Harawira is trying to initiate mediation between the Indonesian Government and the indigenous people of West Papua by the UN (NZPA pic)


By Lloyd Burr

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira took the opportunity to talk about the indigenous affairs of Indonesia with foreign delegates at the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland yesterday.

Mr Harawira called for the United Nations to support peace talks between the indigenous people of the Indonesian province of West Papua and the Indonesian Government.

One of the delegates he spoke to at the Forum was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Harawira says he “took the opportunity with both hands”.

Mr Harawira released this press statement this morning:

It’s not often that you get to meet somebody as important as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations so Hone Harawira, MANA leader and MP for Tai Tokerau, took the opportunity with both hands.

“Welcome to Aotearoa, Mr Secretary General,” said Mr Harawira. “Can I please ask that you support peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous People of West Papua and Indonesia, to put an end to the killings there and to find a strategy to get Indonesia out of a land that isn’t theirs.”

Harawira met the UN Secretary General at the formal welcome for all the leaders attending the Pacific Forum, which was held yesterday at The Cloud down on the Auckland waterfront.

“Pity I didn’t have some information packs to hand out because they were all there,” said Harawira, “but I did manage to speak to a number of the leaders about West Papua and I think some of them quietly agreed with the suggestion that Indonesia quit West Papua as soon as possible.”

Back in the early 1960s when the former Dutch New Guinea was being prepared for independence, Indonesia waged a bloody campaign to invade and occupy the territory, with the support of the US. That occupation was ended when the UN approved West Papua being incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, following a rigged referendum of only 1,000 hand-picked West Papuans.

“The people of West Papua have been fighting for their independence ever since” said Harawira, “and New Zealand has had a role in that war – training the Indonesian military and police in return for favourable trade deals with the Indonesian government.”

“New Zealand has the opportunity to put that distasteful period in the past,” said Harawira, “by supporting two simple requests of the people of West Papua – a fact-finding mission to clarify the situation in West Papua, and peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous people of West Papua and the Indonesian government.”

“To do any less would be to sanction our support for the brutal military occupation of West Papua and to ignore the killings of an indigenous people who lack the capacity to defend themselves.”

3 News

Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Harawira-discusses-West-Papua-with-Ban-Ki-moon/tabid/419/articleID/224955/Default.aspx#ixzz1XLgVB7bz

AWPA: PIF should grant observer status to the territory of West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media Release 31 August 2011
 
PIF should grant observer status to the territory of West Papua [1]
At the  42nd Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to be held in  Auckland next week, AWPA calls on the PIF leaders to grant observer status to  genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination.
As more of the Pacific community applies for observer status at the Forum  (Congressman Faleomavaega in a press release on the 8 August thanked   U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for clearing American Samoa, Guam and CNMI to apply for observer status at the PIF) http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/as00_faleomavaega/enithankssecretaryclinton.html
surely it is time on the 40th  anniversary  of the PIF  to  bring the  Melanesian people of West Papua back into  the Pacific community.
In its guiding principles the PIF talks about ” the importance of averting the causes of conflict” and how  “Human Rights are a fundamental component of the vision of the Pacific Island Leaders which states that “We see a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance…the full observance of democratic values, and for its defence and promotion of human rights.
Joe Collins of AWPA said West Papua is the one territory in the Pacific  where the  deteriorating human rights situation could lead to  instability  in the region.  The Forum leaders should be concerned about this and do all they  can to help resolve this conflict.  A good start would be to grant observer to those West Papuan representatives who are struggling for their right to self determination. They PIF leaders would have the support of their people in bringing West Papua back into the Pacific community.
In a letter to the PIF leaders in June 2011 AWPA urged
 the  PIF Leaders to put the issue of West Papua on its agenda  at its September summit and to not only  discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua but to  make a public statement of concern regarding the human rights situation in the territory as it has in past Forum Communiques. We also urge the PIF  to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President.
to grant observer status to  genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination
A number of governments have supported the autonomy package for West Papua  stating that the it is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. Although funding for the autonomy package has flowed to West Papua it has only benefited some elites and the bureaucrats with no benefit for the majority of West Papuans, which is why it has been rejected. We believe that it is pointless for  governments to keep saying the autonomy package is the best way forward. Even a revised Special Autonomy in whatever form it might take will never satisfy West Papuans demand for self determination. West Papuans have lost  trust that Jakarta will ever develop West Papua for the sake of the Papuans. The Forum can help by urging Jakarta to dialogue with the Independence Movement to find a lasting solution.
We also call on the Forum leaders to urge the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people and urge the Forum to send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.
 AWPA (Sydney) uses the name “West Papua” to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea.
info.
Joe Collins
+61.2. (0)4077 857 97

Vanuatu's sellout to Indonesia disappoints West Papua at PIF

Opinion

August 17, 2010

Peter Woods

The conclusion of the Pacific Islands Forum has left a great sense of disappointment. There was every reason to think that Vanuatu would be the prominent voice in the forum for the West Papuan demand for a seat at the table. As recent as June 19 the Vanuatu Parliament passed a motion to bring the matter of West Papua to the UN this year.

All the public reports leading up to the forum, and the private assurances to the lobbying being done by the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association even up to the Prime Minister, gave every indication that West Papua  would be high on the agenda, and even that the representative West Papua delegates would at least be given observer status.

In his opening speech, incoming forum chairman Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Nipake Natapei, said: ‘‘We need to be talking much more about how we can bring hope to the Pacific citizens who are struggling to find employment; who are without political freedom . . .’’

What happened? Nothing. Silence. No delegate raised any matter publicly concerning West Papua. All the talk was that politically, the matter of Fiji dominated, and that this shut down any further debate about West Papua. Three questions arise from this: Is this the real reason why West Papua was not promoted? If not what was the reason? Does this failure mean that Vanuatu’s sponsorship is now a lost cause for the West Papuan independence movement?

The real reason West Papua became the elephant in the room at the forum is that Natapei is obviously under great pressure from foreign powers — especially Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Australia continues to advocate the territorial integrity of the Indonesian republic and the necessity of Special Autonomy working for West Papua. Australia is also the major development donor for the country, and that must come with some loyalty tag.

PNG, together with Solomon Islands, supports Fiji, contrary to Vanuatu who is taking the Australian/New Zealand stance. Indonesia, for its part, is increasingly muscling into the Pacific – it just supplied Vanuatu with new uniforms for its police force, and increased its presence from the usual six to 48 members at the most recent forum. These came in two waves, on August 1 and August 5, the last delegation including a West Papuan, Dr Felix Wainggai, an adviser to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang  Yudhoyono on development on East Indonesia.

This probably proved too much fire-power for the Vanuatu PM, who afterwards on radio claimed that his silence on West Papua was due to procedural matters to do with the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Another angle on Vanuatu’s silence may have to do with the internal or external manifestations of the West Papuan independence groups themselves. A delegate to the PIF told Jacob Rumbiak, foreign affairs spokesman for the West Papuan National Authority (WPNA) and myself that the perception from inside the Vanuatu Foreign Office is that the West Papuan independence movement is still divided.

The reality on the ground, however, is that there is a growing consensus from among the majority of activist groups, and more importantly between the Presidium and the WPNA — the transitional government increasingly recognised across West Papua as a credible political next-step to the current frameworks within West Papua.

The ire has been raised, however, of the pro-West Papua council of chiefs and various members of the coalition. They see this as a cave-in and Natapei and his government may not last.

All may not be lost then regarding Vanuatu’s advocacy role for its Melanesian fellow countrymen in West Papua. PIF 2010 may prove a Pyrhhic victory for the countries leaning on Vanuatu. The groundswell of opposition is rising within Vanuatu.  This will either galvanise the Natapei government or replace it with a coalition really dedicated to proceed on the West Papuan issue. Vanuatu’s reluctant neighbours could indeed end up with a little mouse that is roaring in the Pacific.

Peter Woods spent five years in West Papua from 1978 to 1983.