Tag Archives: Richard Di Natale

Bobii: Australian PM’s Words Hurt the People of Papua

Opinion/Analysis

By Selpius Bobii in Abepura State Prison

 14 October 2013

“People seeking to grandstand against Indonesia, please, don’t look to do it in Australia, you are not welcome. ………. The situation in West Papua is getting better, not worse” were the words of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 7 October 2013 after three Papuan citizens scaled the wall and entered the Australian Consulate in Bali(1)

These words of the Prime Minister of Australia are extremely hurtful to the people of the nation of Papua as they are the precise opposite to the truth of the situation in Papua, where things are getting progressively worse for the indigenous population.   Even Lukas Enembe, the Governor of Papua stated that the Province was experiencing a decline in a lot of key areas such as health, education and local economics(2).  Lukas Enembe also witnessed to the well known fact that “Papuans are an increasing minority in their own land. Papuans have been overpowered by other peoples who are not from this land.” (3)

Space for even some minimal semblance of democracy in Papua has been absolutely closed whilst the State of Indonesia continues to commit one after another atrocity against the indigenous people of Papua.  Alpius Mote for instance, aged 17 years, was shot dead by the Indonesian Special Police Unit BRIMOB on 23 September in Waghete, District of Tigi, when a number of locals voiced objection to arbitrary arrests and most insulting ‘over-the’top’ sweeping by armed forces targeting males with long beards and hair. Then there’s the brutal military operations that have been continuing relentlessly for months in Puncak Jaya and also in Paniai to chase those suspected of being part of the TPN/OPM. Operations which have only led to the innocent civilians becoming victims (such as 12 year old Arlince Tabuni who was shot dead on 1 July 2013 in the village of Popumo, Lani Jaya). There has also of late been an escalation in Papua in the level of intimidation and terrorising acts towards the indigenous people of the land and even more so  against Papuan activists (6).

In just these last days the bodies of yet 7 more civilians have been found  – including a 4 year old and 11 year old child – after their vehicle left Sarmi to head towards the city of Sentani near Jayapura but they never arrived (4). All 7 bodies were found in their upturned vehicle and it is believed they had been abducted.  It was reported that they were killed by what has become a common term now in Papua, ‘unknown assailant/s’(5).

In order to hide the many forms of tyrannic oppression in Papua, RI has until this time denied access to both international journalists and international human rights (HAM) workers to visit Papua. Indeed ever since Papua was annexed into the Republic of Indonesia (RI) on 1 May 1963, it has been isolated and closed to these international groups. Indigenous Papuans have been forced to live in this state of being terrorised and yet isolated from the reach of the outside world, experiencing violence and a state of upheaval in their lives. Such that for Papuans it’s like existing in the ‘living hell’ of Indonesia.

The Australian Prime Minister has never experienced the forms of brutal and tyrannic oppression that indigenous Papuans are forced to live under; neither has he seen first-hand the real -life conditions  that indigenous Papuans have been suffering for over 50 years now under the Indonesian Republic. If one has never experienced such oppression and has never seen first-hand the real life conditions of indigenous Papuans but there have been constant reports of brutality and severe oppression for 50 years, then would it not be right that Australia as the current Chair of the United Nations (UN) Security Council should together with other members of the UN Security Council organise for a UN Special Representative to carry out investigation into the alleged human rights violations and the political status of West Papua? Such as was requested formally by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu in his historical speech at the recent 68th session of the annual debate of the U.N General Assembly in New York on 28 September 2013.

The people of Papua can only think that Tony Abbott’s words “The situation in West- Papua is getting better, not worse” must be the result of influence from propaganda and provocation by the Indonesian Government recently when  he firstly visited Jakarta on 30 September and then when he returned again to Bali to attend the APEC Conference in early October. Indeed of late the State of Indonesia has lifted its level of diplomacy with the use of propaganda and provocation towards the international community and in particular key leaders around the world – of which the Australian Prime Minister is one – in their efforts of working to undermine any possibility of sympathy arising towards the problems of Papua. To achieve that end Indonesia has employed no small level of resources and staff.

From the perspective of Papuans the new Australian Prime Minister is not all that different from those in the position before him regarding the issue of Papua. Of course Papuans totally appreciate the importance of the position and interests between the governments of Australia and Indonesia. Furthermore,  Papuans truly understand the Australian Prime Minister’s attitude towards Papua must be one of caution in order to protect bilateral relations between Australia and Indonesia. However Australia as a member of the U.N and what more in the trusted position as the current chair of the UN Security Council, has both a legal and moral obligation to uphold and respect human rights around the world and particularly in those particular regions which there is known to be serious concerns such as Papua. Australia cannot avoid its responsibilities to protect and respect the dignity of humanity where freedoms and the very right to life is being threatened such as is the present threat to the indigenous peoples of Papua who are now known to be heading towards annihilation of their race due to a slow moving genocide.

The Australian Government has been in the frontline recently  in regards to the matter of Papua.  On 24 September 2013 seven indigenous Papuans who landed as refugees at Boigi Island in the Torres Strait (including one woman who was pregnant and a 10 year old child) were transferred to Horn Island.  After being interviewed by authorities they were given no choice of staying in Australia and were forced to choose between being sent back to Indonesia or going to PNG. They very swiftly transferred to PNG (7). Then on 6 October 2013 three young Papuan males scaled the wall of the Australian Consulate in Bali and entered the compound so as to seek Australia’s help for Papua. They then also sought refuge for themselves.  Despite the risk they then faced from Indonesia, in the early hours of that same morning before 0700 hours the 3 had been immediately asked to leave the compound with the threat that the police would be called. In being forced to leave the compound after pleading for help for Papua, of course they were terrified about their safety as their lives were then much more at risk, as they well knew the ramifications could mean torture or leading to them ‘disappearing’ as a result of actions by the Indonesian armed forces.  The Australian Senator Richard Di Natale immediately called on the Australian Government to request they be given protection but without response (8). The nation of Papua finds the actions of the Australian Consulate in Bali absolutely unacceptable as the 3 young people had in fact entered the Consulate to seek safety and protection (9).

The Australian Prime Minister subsequently  stated that the Australian Government is going to suppress any activism in Australia that opposes Indonesia in support of West Papua. Abbott’s statement was immediately criticised by Vanuatu’s first and former Prime Minister Ati George Sokomanu who demanded Tony Abbott explained his statement to the leaders of the Pacific (10). Sokomanu stressed that whilst immigration issues could be dealt with by the courts, that Australia must be prepared to discuss questions of human rights. He stated that due to the fact that Australia and New Zealand are the closest neighbours,  “ I think for the sake of the people of West Papua with their rights, that Australia and New Zealand should broaden their view to provide support and do whatever they can to help the people of Papua to achieve their independence”(11).

The Australian and international communities that are concerned about the suffering of indigenous Papuans, are following the political direction of the new Australian cabinet under PM Tony Abbott.  We are yet to see whether as Papua’s closest neighbour, the Australian government will follow a foreign policy that shows some special care in handling cases of human rights violations in Papua and the political status of the land of Papua? Or whether the Australian Government will merely guard its bilateral relations with Indonesia and allow the Republic of Indonesia to continue to act in such ways that it creates marginalisation, discrimination, making a people a minority in their own lands and carries acts of humanitarian evils through its armed forces against the indigenous people of Papua? Actions that together are leading to the annihilation of the ethnic West Papuan race.

Footnotes
1. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/claim-of-australian-threat-to-west-papuans-in-bali-consulate- protest-20131007-2v4cg.html

2.(Indonesian version) www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/10/12/banyak-kemunduran-di-papua/

3.(Indonesian version) www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/10/12/gubernur-papua-oap-jadi-minoritas/

4. Details of the victims are as follows Bartolomeus Fere (aged 53 years), Agustina Fere (38), Yan Marthen Fere (30), Boas Hawase (35), Elisabet Felle (40), Melinda Felle (11), dan Avia Hawase (4).    (Indonesian version) (www.merdeka.com/peristiwa/7-warga-sentani-papua-diculik-orang-tak-   dikenal.html).

 5. Cenderawasih Post, Edition Monday, 14 October 2013.

 6. Such as for example that experienced by the 4 activists in Fak-Fak on 29 September 2013 Abner Hegemur, Yanto Hindom, Morten Kabes, dan Kaleb Hegemur. The activists were riding home on motor bikes on the main road leading to the town of Fak-Fak after visiting some children alleged to have experienced violence by the armed forces at the Tetar village in the Patipi District outside of Fak-Fak. They were followed throughout their journey home by the Special Forces Unit Densus 88 (the anti-terrorist forces now operating throughout Papua against civilians) accompanied by another 4 armed forces vehicles. A number of the vehicles then located themselves in front of the activist’s motorbikes whilst the remainder followed from behind. Those in front kept changing positions with those behind adding to the terrorizing effect on the 4 riders. This continued throughout their journey until they reached the borders of town of Fak-Fak at which time the vehicles drove off.

(Indonesian version) http://www.majalahselangkah.com/content/teror-dan-intimidasi-terhadap-aktivis-papua-masih-berlanjut

 7. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/11/west-papuans-refugee-camp-border

 8. Rofinus Yanggam, Yuvensius Goo and Markus Yerewon

9. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/claim-of-australian-threat-to-west-papuans-in-bali-consulate-protest-20131007-2v4cg.html

 10. https://vanuatudaily.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/vanuatu-daily-news-digest-9-october-2013/

 11. http://thevoiceofwestpapua.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/abbott-requested-explain-of-he-statement-to-pacific-countries/

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

 

PMW: Activists ‘forced’ to leave consulate, call for greater press freedom

by Daniel Drageset, Pacific Media Watch

October 7, 2013

West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell
West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Three West Papuan student activists entered the Australian consulate in Bali this weekend with calls on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to open up for greater press freedom and push Indonesia to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in the Indonesian-ruled region.

“We want the Indonesian government to lift the 50 year restriction it has imposed on West Papua.

“We want foreigners, including journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be able to visit West Papua freely without asking for special permits,” the West Papuans wrote in an open letter addressed to the Australian people.

The student activists said in the letter they wanted to deliver a message to the leaders attending the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali this weekend.

Several organisations have asked Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans, but according to Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb the West Papuans did not seek asylum.

“They left [the consulate] voluntarily so the matter’s been resolved,” Robb said, according to Radio Australia.

The Guardian, however, reported that the consul-general had warned the three West Papuans that the Indonesian army would be called if they did not leave the consulate.

One of the students, Rofinus Yanggam, told the newspaper the group left in fear of their lives.

Calls for sanctuary
Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“These three young men were not asking for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. All they were asking for is entirely consistent with the Lombok Treaty of 2006, signed by both Australia and Indonesia,” he said, according to AAP.

“Instead of getting sanctuary and help, the Australian government effectively threatened them and now there is serious concern over the activists’ safety,” Xenophon said.

Professor Clinton Fernandes at the University of New South Wales backed Xenophon’s call.

He said when the media circus had moved on after APEC, the trio “may be tried, most certainly they will be beaten, and at some point might be disappeared”.

Rinto Kogoya, co-ordinator of the Alliance of Papuan Students, said it was time the world understood what was happening inside the province, which was officially acquired by Indonesia in 1969.

“The international community doesn’t know the reality in Papua. The military oppresses the civil society – we’re not free to do anything – and I think this is the moment to open democracy to Papua,” he said in The Guardian.

‘Great concern’
Joe Collins, of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA), was alarmed by the events at the Australian consulate in Bali.

“It’s of great concern that they [the West Papuan students] may have been coerced to leave as the students would have great reason to fear the Indonesian security forces.

“There are ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua and the security forces have been banning and cracking down on recent rallies to try and stop international attention being focused on the territory,” he said in a statement.

AWPA wrote a letter to the consul-general Brett Farmer in Bali yesterday asking for “clarification” regarding the students.

“We understand that they have now left the consulate and we would like clarification from you if they left voluntarily or as some media reports have indicated that they were told that they would be handed over to the Indonesian military if they did not leave,” AWPA wrote in the letter.

Australian Green senator Dr Richard Di Natale has also joined those who have called for Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“By speaking out in this way, these brave West Papuans have put their lives in serious danger.

“If Australia fails to offer them protection, I have grave fears for their safety,” he said in a statement.

‘Stand up to Indonesia’
Yet another senator to voice his support for West Papua this weekend was John Madigan.

“It is about time our government had the courage to stand up to Indonesia, instead of ignoring the issue of West Papuan oppression and the human rights abuses that occur there on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.

He also said he demanded that the Australian government provided sanctuary for the three West Papuans.

The issue of the West Papuan students came just days after pleas from several organisations that Australia should not deport seven West Papuans who arrived in the Torres Strait Islands in northern Queensland recently.

The group of seven, who took part in the recent West Papua Freedom Flotilla sought asylum in Australia, but were deported to Papua New Guinea under a memorandum of understanding between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Refugee advocates in Australia said the deportation failed to abide by the Refugee Convention that Australia was a party to.

Spokesperson for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla Izzy Brown said she wanted to draw the United Nations’ attention to Australia’s commitment to the Refugee Convention.

“It’s really unfortunate that Australia thinks it can send asylum seekers offshore without due process or just blatantly illegally deported like in this case here, and we really want to try and draw the world’s attention and especially the UN’s attention to Australia’s behaviour in this matter,” she said.

Read the West Papuan students letter to “the people of Australia”

Creative Commons Licence

About the author

PMW contributing editor

Daniel Drageset is a Norwegian radio journalist enrolled in the Master in Communication Studies degree at AUT University.

Papuan deaths reported in crackdown

24 Oct 2012

By Stefan Armbruster

Download Episode Duration00:04:53     2MB

There are unconfirmed reports of deaths during a crackdown against independence activists in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia.

Indonesian television has shown security forces firing weapons and beating people while breaking up a rally in the town of Manokwari.

Authorities say they were provoked by stone throwers, a number of its troops were injured and that they only fired into the air as a warning.

Human rights monitors and foreign media are restricted by the Indonesian government from entering the region but one local journalist reported he was bashed by security forces.

Greens spokesman for West Papua Senator Richard Di Natale told Stefan Armbruster the Australian Government needs to speak up about the issue.

 

Greens condemn mixed messages on West Papua

 

Media Release

  PRESS RELEASE – AUSTRALIAN GREENS

September 7, 2012

The Australian Greens have today questioned the mixed messages the Australian Government is sending Indonesia about human rights in West Papua.

“The Australian Government needs to take a consistent stance in defence of human rights in our region, not just pay them lip service,” said Australian Greens Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne.

“Why is Stephen Smith signing a new ‘Defence Co-operation Agreement’ with Indonesia this week, when just last week Bob Carr was calling for an inquiry into the alleged involvement of the Indonesian military in the assassination of an indigenous West Papuan leader?”

The Australian Greens spokesperson for West Papua, Senator Richard Di Natale, questioned how Stephen Smith could have ‘no concerns’ about West Papua.

“The human rights abuses in West Papua were exposed on ABC’s 7:30 Program just last week. For Minister Smith to say that he has no concerns regarding West Papua is a clear case of wilful ignorance,” said Senator Di Natale.

“How can Australia turn a blind eye to the allegations that troops we have funded and trained are carrying out human rights abuses against the indigenous peoples of West Papua?

“Australia should require assurances that our military support will not lead to further violations of human rights. And we must call for West Papua to be opened up to foreign journalists and human rights monitors so that we can hold those assurances to account.

“The lives and human rights of our West Papuan neighbours should be a priority in our dealings with Indonesia. And it should certainly warrant a lot more attention and respect from Australia’s Foreign and Defence Ministers than just a discussion ‘in passing’.”

Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600

 

Carr must do more on West Papua: Greens

 

PRESS RELEASE

The Australian Greens call on the Government to urge Indonesia to put an end to the violence in West Papua, and commend journalists from the ABC’s 7.30 program who entered the region undercover recently. Their work shines a spotlight on the ongoing abuses of human and democratic rights that are occurring in West Papua, only some 200km to the north of Australia.

“The Australian Government has known full well for some time of the atrocities going on in West Papua, but has chosen to turn a blind eye,” Australian Greens Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“The ABC exposé means Minister Carr no longer has any excuse not to pick up the phone to his Indonesian counterpart and get some answers about what dialogue Indonesian government is having with West Papuan representatives.”

“Along with many Australians, I am very alarmed by the bloodshed of recent months, which adds to the fear experienced by the West Papuan people over many decades of Indonesian rule over their lands,” said Senator Richard Di Natale, Greens spokesperson for West Papua.

“The 7.30 program has managed to gather important coverage of the current situation there, despite considerable restrictions on journalists entering the region. It is crucial that journalists and human rights monitors are allowed access to West Papua.

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

“The Greens call on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to advocate for a new dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the Papuan people. The indigenous people of West Papua should have the opportunity to decide democratically their own future in accordance with international standards of human rights and the principles of international law.”

“West Papua is a chance for Australia to show real leadership. It is a chance for us to show that we will stand up for the values of peace and democracy we so readily espouse.”

The Greens will introduce a Senate motion during the next sitting period that will call of Minister Carr to raise concerns over human rights abuses with the Indonesian Foreign Minister and request access for human rights monitors and foreign journalists.

The Greens have called on the Australian government to consider its military links to Indonesia and suspend all ties while violence continues, attributed to Indonesian security forces acting with impunity. We cannot stand idly by while this conflict escalates and human rights are being abused on our doorstop.