Tag Archives: right to economic independence

IRIN: West Papuan refugees hope for citizenship in PNG

 Article

humanitarian news and analysis

a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Dan Hanasbey was born in Papua New Guinea

PORT MORESBY, 17 December 2012 (IRIN) – Access to citizenship could prove the best hope yet for thousands of West Papuan refugees living in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

“I want citizenship. I’ve been here 28 years and want to get on with my life,” said Donatus Karuri, a 57-year-old father of six, outside the shelter he shares with five other families at the Hohola refugee settlement. It is one of four settlements for West Papuan refugees in the capital Port Moresby.

Like most West Papuan refugees, he is unable to work legally and has only limited access to public services.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are more than 9,000 West Papuan refugees in PNG today, many of whom have been in the Pacific island nation for over three decades.

Others know no other home and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“I was born here. This is the only country I know,” said Dan Hanasbey, 27, another refugee wanting citizenship.

Flight from Indonesia

Between 1984 and 1986, more than 11,000 West Papuans fled east into PNG from the western, Indonesian half of New Guinea Island to escape political turmoil and economic discontent; the area’s longstanding secessionist sentiments towards Jakarta continue to simmer today.

West Province, a former Dutch colony rich in natural resources, was later divided into two separate provinces – Papua and West Papua – however, indigenous West Papuans continue to refer to the entire Indonesian area as West Papua.

At the time the refugees arrived, the PNG government was not yet a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. It granted the West Papuans prima facie refugee status shortly after accession to the convention in 1986 – but with seven reservations, including Article 34 on naturalization.

Of the close to 9,300 West Papuan refugees in PNG today, almost half live along the border area with Indonesia.

Another 2,435 live in urban areas, while 2,290 live in East Awin, the only officially sanctioned area for West Papuan refugees to settle. There, regular assistance is available and access to 6,000 hectares of government land is provided – about 120km away from the Indonesian border. The site was established in an effort to resettle the refugees away from the border areas to avoid possible political problems with the Indonesian government.

Those who resettle in the area for six months are provided permissive residency permits (PRPs), which allow them certain rights, including the right to work and travel internally (excluding border areas), and gives them access to health and education services.

Few refugees, however, wish to resettle in East Awin, preferring instead to stay close to the border area and their land and families on the other side. Others frown upon its remote jungle location and inaccessibility.

The government estimates only 40 percent of West Papuan refugees hold PRPs. As a result, most survive on subsistence farming – particularly in the border area. Those in urban settings live on private or government land, under constant risk of eviction, and often work illegally.


Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Like many West Papuan refugees, Donatus Karuri would like to stay

The cost of citizenship

Despite these challenges, many West Papuans – who share a similar Melanesian ancestry to Papua New Guineans – have integrated well in this nation of 7.3 million and would like to stay.

“Local integration with the opportunity to be granted PNG citizenship is the best solution for many West Papuan refugees under the current circumstances,” Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR country representative for PNG, told IRIN.

“The problem, however, is the application fee is too high.”

Under PNG law, any foreigner – including refugees – wishing to apply to citizenship and who has fulfilled eight years of residency must pay a 10,000 kina (US$5,000) application fee.

“We can’t afford that. It’s impossible,” Freddy Warome, 58, a West Papuan community leader, complained.

Under Article 34 of the Refugee Convention, signatory states should facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees, and make every effort to expedite naturalization and reduce the costs as far as possible.

To date, the PNG government appears mindful of this responsibility, but it remains unclear when they might act upon it.

Speaking at a 2011 ministerial meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, Moses Manwau, PNG’s former vice minister for foreign affairs and immigration, confirmed the government’s commitment to withdrawing its earlier reservations to the Convention, and to waiving all fees or introducing nominal fees for refugees seeking naturalization.

“We are determined to give refugees the kind of life, liberty, peace and prosperity they deserve so that they can hold their own against any other citizens in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

UNHCR believes there should be a path to citizenship for those who desire it, while those West Papuans lacking PRPs who would like to remain in the country should be provided PRPs without having to relocate to East Awin, Englbrecht said.

ds/rz
Theme(s): Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Papuan women angry about failure to provide them with permanent market

Tabloid JUBI
6 December 2012
Jayapura: The Rev Dora Baluban, co-ordinator of Solpap, Solidarity of Indigenous Papuan traders,  said that their organisation is being treated like a ping pong ball by the provincial administration because of their failure for so many years to provide women traders – mama-mama – with a permanent market-place.’We have made so many attempts to get a permanent market place  for indigenous Papuan women  but as yet, nothing has happened,’ she told journalists.Solpap has been trying to get a permanent market place for the women traders since 2004 but after six years, nothing has happened. Back in 2009, the government promised that they would make available land used by Perum Damri (Indonesian Government national transport company ) but to this day, nothing has happened. ‘ It is apparent that Damri is not willing to vacant the land.

She said that they have had so many promises by the government  but to no avail. She said that  the government is treating Solpap like a ping pong ball,  hitting us here, there and everywhere.

The government also promised    to provide Rp 10 billion to build the market place but this has not yet happened either. One of the traders, Yuliana Pigai, said the government has made so many promises but has failed to do anything.

‘This is our right and the government should keep its promises,’ she said.

[Translated by TAPOL]

New supermarket in Jayapura triggers complaints about goods on offer and price differentials

Bintang Papua, 9 and 10 July 2012

[Comment: This report reveals the continuing tendency to promote businesses from outside Papua while failing to advance the interests of local Papuan producers. TAPOL]

Many complaints about price differentials at newly open supermarket in Jayapura

Although the supermarket  Hypermart Jayapura has only recently open its doors to the general public, many people who have purchased goods have complained that there has been a huge differential  between the prices marked on the shelves and the prices of the goods when they reach the cashier to pay for their purchases. As a result people who have been shopping at the new store are being advised to take care about their purchases to avoid losing a lot of money.

One shopper who spoke to Bintang Papua said  that she was charged at the cashier for something costing Rp 91,000 although she hadn’t even purchased the product. Other shoppers made similar complaints. In once instance, the shopper was charged  Rp. 105,000 for cooking  oil while the oil normally costs only Rp. 29,000. Other shoppers complained of striking differences in the prices they were charged.

In most cases, the shoppers were able to get refunds from the store after complaining. A store manager said that they would give refunds to anyone complaining about price differentials.

In a subsequent article, Bintang Papua reported that demands were being made by many people for the supermarket’s licence to trade to be revoked, because the terms of the licence which had been agreed in Jakarta with the business had been violated.

Some people complained that many of the vegetables and fruit that were offered for sale had been imported from outside West Papua or even from abroad. Indigenous Papuans who were able to produce these products in large quantities had not been able to compete with the many products on offer at the store. Another complaint was that the store was selling alcohol

The Indonesian Consumers Association said that there was no need for foodstuffs to be imported from outside Papua or from abroad because they were readily available in the Land of Papua and would enable local producers to compete in the local market. Taking supplies from local producers would also help to improve the level of welfare of the Papuan people

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

DPRP member criticises the absence of teachers and medics in Papua

JUBI
26 March 2012A member of the Papuan legislative assembly, the DPRP, said it was very regrettable that teachers and health personnel rarely go to the more isolated parts of West Papua. Kenius Kogoya,  secretary of Commission E of the DPRP, said that although this was nothing new, it was very unfortunate indeed that this was still happening.

‘This is happening all the time in Papua, particularly in the interior. We have seen it for ourselves and feel very unhappy about this situation. Aren’t the institutions monitoring the situation in the kampungs and other places which these people should be visiting? Do they never check up on whether these people come to these places?’ he said.

He said that there was widespread neglect by officials who were failing to check on whether teachers and health workers ever turned up in the interior for work. This was happening despite the fact that  these people were being paid and that this was in accord with government policy.

‘There are serious failings in the system. They get a decent salary but no one monitors to see whether they ever go to these places. .No-one should surprised to discover that is a number of districts and kampungs, these people never turn up. They are paid a good salary but they are living elsewhere.  It is the duty of the authorities to remind them (of their duties),’ he said.
/*_
_*/The difficult geographical conditions in Papua should not be used as a reason by public service workers. These workers in the fields of education and healthcare in the regions have been given certain rights, so they should also carry out their responsibilities, he said.

He said that a considerable amount of money was being spent on education and health. ‘People are always talking about the lack of personnel and complaining that the economic circumstances were not good, but who is it that they are not good for? The authorities are simply failing to take this matter seriously. And this is a  problem that exists in almost all the districts of Papua,’ said Kenius.

Structural discrimination against Papuans in many districts of Papua

[A very revealing report about how indigenous Papuans are being denied access to something as basic as education, thus maintaining their position as the underdog – TAPOL]JUBI, 23 March 2012

 

The author of the book, Paradoks Papua, The Papuan Paradox. said that there is systematic discrimination against the indigenous Papuan people in Keerom in all fields of endeavour.

Cipry  Jehan, the author, was speaking at a seminar on Just Development which was convened by the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Keerom.

‘There is structural social injustice in the district of Keerom and it is structured around peoples’ clans and religions.’

He said that this discrimination is apparent in all facets of life and is because the government concentrates all its development activities in the districts of Arso and Skamto.

‘Both these districts are populated by transmigrants (newcomers from outside Papua) whereas indigenous Papuans live mostly in Waris and Towe and they are not catered for in all this development.’

He said that discrimination in the field of education is evident from the nursery school level  right up to secondary school level. For example, in this district [Keerom], nursery schools [taman kanak-kanak] are spread right across  the districts whereas in the districts of Waris and Towe Hitam which is where the majority of the population are indigenous Papuans, there are no educational facilities at all. ‘Education facilities for the  Papuans  are very disappointing indeed.’

The author who is himself from the island of Flores.said he feels very sorry for the indigenous people in Keerom who are not getting their right to education. ‘This is after all one of the most important of all peoples rights. The government  pays no attention to this important matter.

‘The government is much more consistent about sending troops to this area than sending teachers.and doctors,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL