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Bobii: Indonesian Armed Forces, the main Anti-Peace Agents in Papua

By Selpius Bobii  writing from Abepura State Prison, Jayapura

 Opinion

December 24, 2013

Every religion teaches values of goodness and kindness and has teachings that are intended to create happiness and peace on this earth and in eternity.  We hear so many people speak of the importance of peace, but the reality is that it’s not that simple to realise peace in our everyday lives. In the Papuan province of Indonesia it feels like peace is so far from becoming a reality for the indigenous people who live there.

Of late the Cenderawasih XVII Military Commander in West Papua has been coining the phrase “Peace is beautiful” and yet at the same time the Indonesian Armed Forces continue to be the number one culprit committing acts of violence and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua.  Behind the mask of these sweet words the Armed Forces are clearly acting very much against the creation of peace in Papua.

 Peace can be realised in a place when every person, every group, every faction, respects the rights of others; and this extends to nations and tribes. Where each is able to exercise their rights and at the same time fulfils their obligations towards others. It seems however in Papua that the realisation of peace is something that’s incredibly difficult to achieve, with the root cause of that being the lack of recognition of the very basic political rights of the people of Papua by all three Indonesia, the USA and the United Nations (UN).

(UN)involved in Papua's desire for Peace; very involved in its atrocities (Photo: Public domain)
(UN)involved in Papua’s desire for Peace; very involved in its atrocities (Photo: Public domain)

With the USA and UN’s active support throughout the entire process of annexation of Papua into Indonesia in the 1960’s, they indeed played a part in the actions of violence and atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua.  They achieved their goal of making Papua into ‘the kitchen of the world’, opening it to the many international companies that have been stripping Papua of its rich natural resources ever since. It was not to end at the annexation of Papua, as they have continued these last more than 50 years to support Indonesia’s hold on Papua which in turn keeps the door open for exploitation of the land.  There have been various forms of aid and in particular joint programs in security and defence, which of course are critical to Indonesia’s continued domination of Papua.

The Indonesian Armed Forces have by intention made Papua into a centre of conflict, but for what end?  In so doing they create a situation where the indigenous people can be paralysed, can be annihilated and the world just keeps quiet, with Indonesia saying they are dealing with the conflict. The result?  Papua remains permanently part of Indonesia and its natural resources can be exploited with ease by international parties.

Let’s not be fooled that the partnerships going on between Indonesia and other nations of the world in the areas of security and defence are aimed at peace building and protecting the people of the region as claimed. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reality is they have quite the opposite goal! The Indonesian Armed Forces are the main agents intentionally creating violence, bondage and theft of natural resources, discrimination, marginalisation, injustice, terror, intimidation and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous peoples of the land of Papua. Their military and civilian operations both overt and covert are intended to slowly but surely annihilate ethnic Papuans.

The many forms of both visible and hidden violence and humanitarian atrocities undertaken by the state of Indonesia against indigenous Papuans are intended to stifle the political aspirations of Papuans for independence and at the same time annihilate the people. In the face of this continued violence against their people the indigenous peoples of Papua continue to express their opposition to the many human rights violations by peaceful and dignified means, primarily by means of peaceful demonstration. Yet even the narrowest space for a voice calling for democracy has been blocked by the Armed Forces in recent times, especially by the Provincial level of Indonesian Police.  The Provincial Police are known for their practice of taking advantage of occasions when there are peaceful demonstrations to create conflict and to terrorise, torture, kill, arrest and imprison Papuans who struggle peacefully for change.  Indonesia’s Armed Forces are constantly manipulating activities of the Struggle to create incidents of violence. Nevertheless Papuans continue to struggle peacefully in keeping with their decision at the 2000 2nd National Papuan Congress.

And so in the midst of all this, now it is Christmas. Where all parties in Papua hear of the message of ‘the coming of the King of Peace’.  A message that reminds humanity that Jesus Christ came to bring peace to this earth.  A message that starts to have real meaning only when entire communities of humans make space to allow for peace in their hearts.  To that end let’s all prepare our hearts with simplicity, faithfulness, honesty and love for one another. We are each one of us reminded by the message of Christmas.

It is dearly hoped that the message of Christmas will also touch hearts and bring awareness to those who are committing the many forms of violence against indigenous Papuans. That there might be a commitment to bring an end to all forms of oppression towards indigenous Papuans and to enter into dialogue between Jakarta and Papua with a neutral facilitator. To reach that end we need to be ready and willing to humble our hearts, to be faithful, honest and to act in love. Only in that way can we bring peace to the land of Papua.  We are all called to bring an end to the latent conflicts in Papua and to create peace, no matter who we are and wherever we may be.

Peace and joy at Christmas to all and throughout 2014!

Footnote:

  1. 1.       The Dutch previously tried to prepare Papua to become an independent nation whilst still under their control, with those preparations reaching a peak on 1 December 1961. However less than a month later on 19 December 1961 Indonesia by a political and military invasion marked by what’s known as Trikora (a three prong command which demanded the dismantlement of the “puppet” Papuan state created by the Dutch; the raising of the Indonesian Red and White flag over Papua; and preparation for a general mobilisation in Papua) succeeded in annexing Papua into the Indonesian Republic.

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee imprisoned in  Abepura State Prison, Jayapura, Papua, for another Christmas.

 

Bobii: INDONESIA CAUSES DELAY IN MSG FORUM DECISION ON WEST PAPUAN MEMBERSHIP

by Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison, West Papua

21 December, 2013

Opinion / Analysis

In June 2013 the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Djoko Suyanto invited the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to send a delegation to visit Indonesia(1).  At the 19th Summit of the MSG on 21 June 2013 the MSG leadership determined that the question of the application for MSG membership by West Papua would be decided at the latest within 6 months of that meeting, following receipt of a report on a visit to Indonesia by the MSG member Foreign Ministers.

It is now 6 months to the day since that decision was made and yet the MSG Foreign Ministers have not yet visited Indonesia due to the lack of certainty concerning the invitation from Indonesia.  It is now clear that Indonesia’s supposed invitation was but a political snare to delay the MSG leadership’s decision regarding West Papua’s application for MSG membership.  Meanwhile Indonesia has been busy throughout this 6 months lobbying and making offers to the individual MSG member states in order to influence the outcome of that decision.

Indonesia is extremely sly and cunning in the way it plays its ‘Indonesian puppet’ politics. It was with the very same slyness that enabled Indonesia to succeed in annexing West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia in the 1960s and which has enabled Indonesia to maintain its hold on Papua ever since. Indonesia has undertaken all possible means to influence the international community such that West Papua to this date remains within the region of RI’s power, and Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG in June 2013 was but one of RI’s political strategies to that end.  It was an intentional ploy to cause Papua’s efforts to become a member of the MSG to fail.

From the time news was heard of Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG, the indigenous Papuan community already knew that Indonesia would not follow through in fulfilling its commitment to enable the MSG visit to Jakarta and Papua; and that has now become a reality.  Meanwhile almost all of the member nations of the MSG have fallen right into the snares set by Indonesia, allowing themselves to be manipulated so as to meet Indonesia’s purpose of defeating Papua’s application for MSG membership.

Indonesia has not only tricked the Melanesian nations individually in this way and has tricked them as a united body in the MSG regarding the supposed invitation, but has at the same time deceived the international community in regards to the same. So many have been hoping and waiting for the outcome of this matter, many of whom have made sacrifices to uphold truth, justice and dignity of the West Papuan people.

Indonesia’s deceit of the MSG Forum in this way just serves to heighten the perception in the international community and for some of the MSG members that Indonesia as a state is chronically lying to the world. There have been endless occasions when RI has wilfully lied in order to maintain its hold on West Papua within Indonesia and so many have been deceived by Indonesia’s cunning and sly ways in this regard. The tragic consequence being that as a result many parties have chosen to ignore the urgent humanitarian problems in West Papua, problems the ramifications of which are most horrifying indeed. Problems that Indonesia for 50 years has gone to great efforts to hide from the world.  And so determination of the legal and political status of Papua according to international law has also been delayed.

Discussions in relation to the human rights violations and the legal and political status of the West Papuan nation at the 19th Summit of the MSG in Noumea, gave a breath of fresh air and new hope to the indigenous community of West Papua. To a people who have been under the cruel colonial domination of Indonesia and its allies for over 50 years. It is dearly hoped that this new hope born of the 19th MSG Summit will not just elapse like the passing of time; and that it will not be brought down by the many offers made by the Indonesian government and its allies to the MSG member states.  Rather the Melanesian people of Papua hope and pray that the stated commitment of the 19th MSG forum will be upheld and defended, seeing West Papua given full membership at the MSG and consequently of the Pacific Islands Forum.  Such that in time the problem of Papua can be dealt with by the official mechanisms of the United Nations and the nation of Papua become independent and set free from all forms of tyranny, oppression and enslavement.

The commitment of the MSG Forum at this time is indeed being sorely tested. Will the MSG leadership have the courage to decide in the near future to make West Papua a full member of the MSG without having to wait for a report from a now much delayed visit of the MSG member Foreign Ministers to Indonesia? Or will the MSG leadership delay that decision and succumb to the influence of the cunning politics of Indonesia and its allies?

The indigenous community of Papua and those in the international community who care about the fate of West Papuans, are following the political wake from the last MSG Summit. All are awaiting a decision of certainty on West Papua’s application for MSG membership as a first real and effective step towards eventually bringing the problem of the legal and political status of West Papua to the mechanisms of the United Nations.  As the people of Papua have not struggled for more than 50 years  to take something that rightfully belongs to another, but rather to have the sovereign independence of the people of Papua recognised by the world.

Footnotes:

1. That invitation was conveyed by Suyanto when he met with the Fijian Prime Minister (at that time the Chairperson of the MSG) in Suva, Fiji. 

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA.  This article is written from Abepura Prison, Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia

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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

 

Papua Ablaze! The Need for a Touch of Hearts

Opinion

by: Selpius Bobii.

Abepura Prison

September 8, 2013

“ In Syria hundreds of civilians are dead from a suspected attack with poison gas on Wednesday 21 August 2013 at a location close to the Syrian capital of Damascus. Meanwhile in Papua hundreds of thousands of Papuan citizens are also dead, having been killed over the time frame of the last 50 years. Killed as a result of military operations both covert and overt, undertaken in a planned, systematic and measurable way since the 1960’s until this time. (For further information see https://westpapuamedia.info/2013/03/30/selpius-bobii-the-annihilation-of-indigenous-west-papuans-a-challenge-and-a-hope/).

The United Nations (UN) Security Council held a sudden meeting to discuss the suspected use of poison gas in Syria and to find out who was responsible and acted swiftly to organise a Fact Finding Team, as the use of any weapon to annihilate people in mass numbers such as a poison gas falls within the category of ‘humanitarian evils’. Meanwhile the USA is considering a military attack against the Syrian Government if it is proven without doubt that they in fact used a weapon of mass destruction was used by the Syrian Government’s military. (Source: www.voaindonesia.com).

The incident in Syria is shocking beyond words and Papuans are also so deeply saddened by this tragic news.  Yet what about the lack of response by the UN to the humanitarian evil that has been continuing for over 50 years now against the people of Papua by the Republic of Indonesia? What is the attitude and actions of the UN towards the situation on Papua? Every hour there are Papuans being killed due to a range of causes that all form part of a systematic and measurable plan of the Indonesian Government that is planned to annihilate the ethnic people of Papua.  Are member states of the UN and other countries of the world going to stand-by forever and allow Indonesia to continue to carry out brutal acts of colonial domination until such time that the ethnic people of Papua are wiped out from the land of their ancestors? (For supporting evidence see: www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1308/S00090/genocide-of-ethnic-papuans-for-whom-what-was-un-created.htm).

Perhaps the UN and those other countries are of the opinion that the problem of Papua is not as complicated as the humanitarian problem in Syria, so it doesn’t need their involvement.  However that can only mean that they have not yet looked closely and carefully enough at the situation there.  As Papua has already become a humanitarian emergency: a hidden and horrifying humanitarian emergency that is systemic, planned and measurable.

Papua burns

Papua is ablaze and the first and primary source of that fire is the annexation of the nation of Papua into Indonesia through a military and political invasion in the 1960’s. There were four parties involved in that annexation, four parties that were responsible for  ‘lighting the fire of conflict’ in Papua: Namely Indonesia as the initiator and primary actor in the annexation; the Dutch as both an actor and a victim of aggression; the USA as the designer and primary supporter of the annexation; and the UN as the executor. Whilst Papua is the unceasing victim of those four parties’ conspiracy of economic, political and security interests.

The fire of the ideological political conflict, between the Papuan Mambruk way of looking at the world and the Indonesian Pancasila ideology, creeps through and destroys the seams that hold life together for the nation of Papua. A fire of conflict that in turn has led to a range of smaller fires sparked by the first. This raging fire has burnt through the most basic rights of the indigenous Papuan community, including the very right to life.

A dense smoke has constantly billowed forth from the centre of the fire in the land of Papua. A number of parties have seen that thick smoke but there’s been no response. Of course as we all know where there is smoke there is also fire and conversely where there is fire we know there will be smoke. Similarly where there is conflict of course there are victims and conversely where there are victims we know there is conflict behind that. Until now a number of means have been used by Papuans and the international community in solidarity to try to put out the raging fire of the primary conflict and also the smaller fires that have been sparked. However the flame of conflict has continued to spread relentlessly due to Indonesia together with the support of its various allies  continuing to defend its hold on Papua. In fact they have caused the fire to spread even wider.

To extinguish this fire in the land of Papua it will need the involvement of all parties, and particularly those four primary actors being Indonesia, the Netherlands, USA and the UN together with Papua as the unceasing victim of their conspiracy of interests. The primary fire that must be extinguished  is that of the conflict around the political history of the nation of Papua. For it was this that gave rise to the other fires.  If the primary fire can be extinguished then the smaller fires will also be able to be extinguished. However if the primary fire is not extinguished then so the other smaller fires will also continue to blaze. Until ethnic Papuans are scorched – that is annihilated – in the land of their ancestors.

All those parties of good heart and which hold in high esteem those values which are worthy, have a moral responsibility whether by direct or indirect means to take control of and extinguish the fire of conflict between the supporters of the Pancasila  ideology (those who are pro Indonesia) and the supporters of the Mambruk ideology (those who are pro Papuan independence).

For as long as the fire of conflict continues to blaze between the followers and supporters of the two ideologies, so the innocent human community of Papua is being burnt. For as long as this continues, the tears of blood of the nation of Papua will continue to drip.  Indigenous Papuans must continue despite the cost of lives to redeem the situation and bring about total liberation of Papua; and the voices of liberation crying out from the people of Papua will without ceasing to fill the air until that moment when the faith revolution is realised in the land of Papua.

The nation of Papua has not asked for anything that is the possession of another. We just ask for the acknowledgement of the basic political rights of our people, the nation of Papua. As a nation-state with full independence. Just as other nations and states of the world have already had their independence recognised. This is the faith, the hope and the longing of the nation of Papua.

With all limitations and capabilities that exist within us, the nation of Papua will continue to struggle until that revolution of faith is realised.  Then with those same existing limitations and capacities we will develop our own country of Papua, standing on our own two feet.

It is dearly hoped that the voice of the nation of Papua will be heard and will be responded to by actions of all parties wherever you may be, in order to uphold the values of justice, truth, democracy, honesty, human rights and peace for all.

The prayers and tears of the nation of Papua without ceasing accompany all of those amongst you who care for our situation, wherever you may be located and working to support us.

Solidarity without limits!
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA West Papua & is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in Abepura Prison

 

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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