Tag Archives: Universal Right to Self Determination


January 12, 2014

Opinion/ Analysis

By Selpius Bobii

 The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is an official forum to develop friendship, harmony and the sense of family between Melanesian nations, with a mind to develop peace and prosperity in the region.

The MSG Forum is in truth not only something of those Melanesian nations which already have independence, but rather it is also something of those Melanesian nations that have not yet had their sovereign independence recognised and which continue to struggle to that end.

Accordingly there exists an obligation by the members of the MSG to be ready to receive as members those Melanesian nations (peoples) that have not in the past not had that opportunity; and secondly an obligation to defend the call for independence for those Melanesian peoples struggling for recognition of their sovereignty.

This critical role of the MSG lies within the framework of upholding the commission of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights together with other international laws including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the opening sections of each of these covenants and declarations, the right to self-determination of all indigenous peoples of the world is referred to.

The preamble of the Constitution of the MSG states the obligation of the MSG member states  to defend the right to self-determination of all Melanesian peoples which have not yet received full independence.  International legal determinations together with the MSG’s legal foundation, together give legitimacy to the MSG forum to defend Melanesian peoples (nations) that are struggling for full independence.  Such legal determinations can on occasion however give rise to divisions within the MSG itself due to differing opinions of members and can even threaten to divide the MSG. This may arise when a non-Melanesian nation’s control and colonial domination over a certain Melanesian people is perceived to be at risk and that nation reacts accordingly, resulting in different responses from respective Melanesian nations.

There is of course a code of ethics for international association between nations (for instance the respect of another nation’s sovereignty), however notwithstanding there also needs to be a greater awareness worldwide that independence is the right of all nations of peoples on this earth. That is stated both at international law and within the very law that applies to the MSG and these laws create a legal obligation to that end.  How much more important in the case of  peoples whose very continued existence is threatened by the colonial power!  Such is the case for the people of Papua where colonial domination by the Republic of Indonesia is leading to annihilation of the indigenous people of the land.

In the interests of mutual rights, justice and human dignity, MSG and other nations of the earth together with UN have both the legal and moral obligation to give an opportunity to those  peoples (nations) in the world that have not yet received independence to have their sovereignty legally recognised. It is really urgent that the MSG, UN and other nations of the world act on this obligation such that the position of all nations of the world may be on a level plane with no one nation able to continue to colonise and dominate another. This is absolutely critical in enabling progress towards the end goal of peace and prosperity for all peoples in the world and not just for a privileged few.

It was on the basis of this international commitment and the preamble to the Constitution of the MSG, that the MSG leadership at its 19th Summit in Noumea from 17-21 June 2013 made a decision that was all important in terms of the political and humanitarian status of Papua. Their commitment in regards to the indigenous people of Papua was clearly stated in points 20/21 of the Communiqué of the MSG, which is itself a valid and legal document. That decision was binding on all members of the MSG without exception and it is the obligation of all members of the MSG to respect and act in accordance with that decision. It will give great hope and joy to not only the people of Papua but also countless others, if every leader of the MSG is able to maintain their attitude and actions such that they are in accordance with this decision of the MSG.  In-keeping with that decision, to defend Papua’s sovereignty through official channels of the UN, by mediation between Papua and Indonesia and through dialogue regarding the political and legal status of Papua together with other problems.

The commitment of the MSG leadership is so closely tied to the issue of Papua and is now at the very edge and being seriously tested. The realities seen to date are that:

  1. There are certain members of the MSG that have not wholeheartedly respected and implemented the decision of the MSG leadership on 21 June 2013.
  1. There has been observed a lack of consistence of certain members of the MSG in regards to their commitment to the decision in Noumea and in fact there has been observed since that date an increase in the extent to which those particular MSG members have been working together in partnership with the State of Indonesia.
  1. The state of (1-2) above are a direct result  of Indonesia playing its ‘two-way’ political games; of continuing to carry out a range of operations aimed at suppressing the movement and activities of the Papuan Independence Movement, whilst at the same time increasing its level of campaigning and diplomacy towards certain members of the MSG.  (With Indonesia’s efforts in diplomacy have also been supported by a range of other ‘attractive offers’).
  1. Indonesia has also requested support of governments of other nations in this regard including both Australia and New Zealand, appealing to them to influence members of the MSG against supporting Papua’s application to the MSG.
  1.  Indonesia did not facilitate the agreed-on visit to Jakarta and Papua by an MSG delegation of Foreign Ministers within the 6 months time deadline from 21 June 2013 in accordance with the MSG decision.
  1. With the 6 months limit requirement of the MSG decision now passed, Indonesia has now on 11 January 2014 facilitated the visit of a MSG foreign minister delegation to Jakarta.
  1. Efforts have been made by Indonesia to prevent this MSG Delegation from visiting Papua during its visit to Indonesia.
  1. If it eventuates that the MSG Delegation is finally allowed to visit Papua during this present visit, then it’s highly likely that the Delegation will be prevented by Indonesia from meeting with key Papuan leaders and the leaders of the different components of the Papuan Liberation Movement.
  1.  All of the Indonesia Government’s efforts referred to above, have been made with the aim of causing Papua’s application to the MSG to fail.

At this time all peoples throughout Melanesia together with those in international solidarity, are keenly watching to see what steps and political direction will be taken by the MSG. Will the MSG maintain its earlier commitment and attitude on the Papuan issue or back down? Will Indonesia allow the Delegation to visit Papua at this time and allow them access to the key figures of the Papuan Independence Struggle including those currently imprisoned or will Indonesia block that access? Why be afraid?  Is not God with us?

This article has been written from behind prison bars for the purpose of strengthening our hearts and our faith in regards to the MSG Forum.  Let us remain strong and perseverant faced with this test.

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

800 arrested, many tortured after troops open fire on Papuan Congress

in partnership with newmatilda.com

STOP PRESS – AT time of publication, confirmed information that another victim, Melkias Kadepa has been found dead in the bushes, in Abepura, according to Matius Murib, the Chairperson of Papuan Human Right Committee in Jayapura.

Troops Open Fire On Papuan Gathering

By Alex Rayfield

arrests in west papua
Participants in the Third Papuan People’s Congress are arrested by Indonesian security forces.

The Indonesian military and police opened fire late yesterday on a gathering of West Papuan leaders. At least one person is believed to have been killed and hundreds have fled the capital

The Indonesian military and police started shooting at around 2:37pm West Papua time, yesterday 19 October. Information about what exactly transpired are still sketchy but at least one person was shot (believed dead), scores have been arrested, hundreds have fled to the hills and jungle surrounding the capital, and the capital is in a state of lockdown.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Papuan priest who was fleeing the shooting contacted New Matilda to report that an army truck passed him carrying Papuan participants who had been present at the Third Papua Congress. According to the witness they were “covered with blood” and had been “beaten and shot”.

The violence erupted at the conclusion of the Third Papuan Congress, a three-day gathering held at the Taboria oval (Zaccheus Field) in Abepura, during which Papuan leaders declared their independence from the Indonesian state.

As many as 20,000 West Papuans met, danced and debated how to achieve their civil and political rights. For three days the atmosphere had been tense. The venue was ringed by Armed Personnel Carriers, military trucks and Barracudas — a type of armed jeep favoured by the paramilitary police. Machine guns were trained on the participants and thousands of soldiers and paramilitary police armed with automatic weapons were present.

Papuan activists feared that the military and police would try to forcibly break up the peaceful gathering. But the Papuans were determined to have the congress.

One activist told New Matilda “maybe we will die but the congress will go on”. Continue it did. The banned “morning star” flag was flown and the banned national anthem was sung. By lunch time on the third day (19 October) Papuan activists, members of the organising committee and well connected church leaders heard that the police and military were going to use force to break up the congress.

By 2pm Jayapura time the Congress was concluding. Forkorus Yaboisembut, the Chair of the influential Customary Papaun Council was elected President and Edison Waromi was elected Prime Minister of the “West Papua Federal State”. The crowd was ecstatic. One senior tribal leader sent New Matilda the following message by SMS: “Kongres has been successful! No reaction from the military. God bless!”

The jubilation was premature.

Immediately after New Matilda received that SMS, Yaboisembut and Waromi read a declaration of independence. The police and military then opened fire and stormed the stage. As Forkorus Yaboisembut was being arrested, his personal bodyguards stepped in to protect him. A witness reports at least one person was then shot. According to an SMSNew Matilda received from Yaboisembut: “hundreds were surrounded, shot, beaten and then arrested”.

Prior to being arrested, Yaboisembut spoke to a journalist from Bintang Papua, a local Jayapura daily. Yaboisembut was reported as saying that the objective of the congress was to discuss the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people and not to destroy the the republic of Indonesia.

“Although we will be discussing political rights, we respect the Indonesian government because our intention is not to destroy [the republic of Indonesia]. This is a matter of principle,” he said.

“What we are doing is to struggle for the rights of the indigenous Papuan people. This includes our basic right as a nation.”

Yaboisembut knows what he is talking about. He recently wrote a book about international law, self-determination and the right to secession — a right upheld by the international community most recently in South Sudan and before that Kosovo.

Human Rights defenders in West Papua can confirm that in addition to Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi and his wife and child, Selfius Bobi (Chair of the organising committee), Agus Krar, Abraham Kareni, Yudit Kambuaya and Jan Piet Mirino were also arrested.

At the time of writing those arrested were being detained at the local Jayapura police station. Another source reports that Selfius Bobi has not been seen since. Staff fromWest Papua Media Alerts hold grave fears that he is being tortured.

Extreme violence has been used to break up a peaceful gathering.

This was the third time West Papuans have held a congress. The second congress was in 2000. It culminated in the election of the Papuan Presidium Council which collapsed in late 2001 after the Chair, Theys Hiyo Eluay, was assassinated by Kopassus, Indonesia’s Special Forces.

The first Papua Congress was held on 1 December 1961, a day West Papuans commemorate as their national day, and some 18 months before Indonesia occupied West Papua on 1 May, 1963.

Yesterday was the second time the Papuans declared independence from Indonesia. The first was by Seth Rumkorem on July 1 1976 at Markas Viktoria, a guerrilla base on the Papua New Guinea border.

Yaboisembut’s declaration of independence in front of thousands of Papuan people and thousands of heavily armed police is a clear escalation of the struggle for independence. It also illustrates Yaboisembut’s conviction that the struggle needs to be waged through an unarmed popular civilian uprising.

UPDATE 12.35pm:
This information was gathered by West Papua Media Alerts from local contacts. It has not been verified by New Matilda.

Two victims have been named: Martinus Siep was shot dead, and Pilatus Wetipo was shot in the leg and is now in hiding.

Eight truckloads of Congress delegates were taken into police custody. People arrested by the security forces are now missing.

A witness from Wamena has said: “While I was in hiding I saw with my own eyes in front of me nine people who tried to escape up the hill behind the catholic dormitories were shot dead and were taken away by security forces in Panser [armoured vehicle]. Until now I don’t know where they’ve been taken too”.

The security forces have raided Cendrawasi University in pursuit of two delegates from Serui who got shot in the leg and arm. Therefore, all students and delegates in Yawa dormitory have dispersed and are in hiding.

The security forces have also raided dormitories looking for the Congress committee, the Congress leadership and student leaders. Delegates from Biak are reporting that a lot of their representatives are still missing.

Selfius Bobi, who is chair of the Congress organising committee, is missing.

A priest who was hiding in the jungle behind the Congress venue witnessed security forces positioned in the bush shooting down to the venue below, and forces in armoured Panser and police trucks open fire, causing confusion and chaos among participants. He believed security forces had placed themselves behind bushes and were waiting for anyone who escaped up the hill so that they could shoot them and quickly throw them into the vehicles.

This message was just sent to West Papua Media Alerts by Congress participant Djenggo Nubiri. It has been translated from Indonesian.

“Sister/brother, I’ve just left the police headquarters along with other students who have exams this morning. There are still around 800 detainees in the Jayapura Police Station at the moment. Yeboisembut was injured by the police, he is still being interrogated in a special room. Eduard Pariri, Mrs. Sroer, Kelly Pedai, Abraham Kareni, Nova Sroer, DAUD ABON (Governor of Yapen-Waropen and Mamberamo), Mr. Jacob Sroer and Elieser Awon (ex Free West Papua – OPM – member), Mama Sroer and there are still so many other activists, youths, students, petapa (?), mama-mama (older women), OPMand others. They are still being detained in the Jayapura Police Station’s tennis court since last night. The repressive and violent act by the authority has caused a lot of injuries to the people, some fractured their skulls, broke their legs, while others suffer serious injuries. We had to sign the letter stating we’ve committed criminal acts as they did not allow us to defend ourselves.”

more information as it becomes available. 

Third Papuan Congress to go ahead despite efforts to obstruct it

(Note – the Congress is currently underway, more reports to come)
Bintang Papua, 14 October 2011

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Although the Third Papuan Congress is due to start in two days time, it is not yet known where it will take place. Selpius Bobii, chairman of the organising committee, said that plans to hold the congress at Cenderawasih University are facing obstacles because permission for the UNCEN auditorium has not yet been granted even though, he said, notification of the congress had already been submitted some time ago. Permission to hold the congress at GOR Cenderawasih has also not been received.

Bobii said that those organising the congress believe that there are forces who are exerting pressure to ensure that neither of these locations will be made available. He went on to say that however that may be, the congress will go ahead as planned because Papuan people throughout the territory fully support it.

Bobii said that they were still waiting for permission (STTP) from the police.The main issues to be discussed are the basic rights of the Papuan  people in a situation where Papuans are being violated and intimidated. The intention is to discuss the things they are experiencing  and what measures they need to take to uphold their rights.

The congress will go ahead without any support from the central government; all expences will be covered by the Papuan people themselves, transportation, food and drink will be provided thanks to contributions from Papuan people.

While there are elements who are trying to prevent the congress from taking  place and spreading all kinds of stories to discredit it,, Bobii said this was simply a reflection of the democracy now in place. He said that what was most important was that 273 Papuan tribes would be attending the congress, covering their own costs and even helping out with financing the congress as a whole. ‘There is nothing that will stand in our way,’ he said. Also, security will be guaranteed by a force of about 4,000 people. If anyone moves to prevent the congress from taking place, he said, they will expose the forces who are behind these attempts.

More than 8,000 people have already arrived. As for the location, if not in the UNCEN auditorium, it may take place in Theys  Square in Sentani or at the  graveside of Theys Eluay, as the final alternative.

As for the police permit, this will not be a problem because the central government has already given the green light. Bobii also said that they had received a letter  from the minister of political and legal affairs in Jakarta which, he said, had arrived by fax. This means, he went on, that ‘neither the military commander or the chief of police can prevent us from proceeding with our agenda’.

LP3BP: The Papuan people have the right to self Determination

Press Release issued by LP3BH on 12 October 2011The Institute for Research, Recognition and Development of Legal Aid, in Manokwari was set up on 12 October 1996 in order to provide judicial services to  Papuan people who are lacking in social, economic and political capacity. It was set  up by NGO activists, human rights  activists, traditional leaders, spiritual leaders , the Catholic Church and the GPKAI in Manokwari.

The basic viewpoint of the founders at that time was that many legal and human rights abuses were not being resolved in accordance with the principles of justice and fairness and there was the need for a body to be set up that was in favour of upholding law and human rights in Manokwari and West Papua [which was known at the time as Birds Head.]

On the occasion of its XVth anniversary on 12 October 2011, the  LP3BH wishes to make public its attitude on a number of social and political problems, as follows:

1. The LP3BH is profoundly aware of and in agreement with the opinion that the Papuan  people who for almost forty years, under both the old and the new order  governments, have never had the opportunity to assemble and consult each other about their fate  and their future as a community of people who have the right to self-determination.

2. The LP3BH believes that the political history of Papua as a result of integration needs to be rectified  in accordance with the message adopted at the second Papuan Congress to enter into peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government, with international mediation.

3. The LP3BH understands and continues to believe that the many criminal actions such as murders, emergency executions  and shootings in and around Jayapura, in the districts of Ilaga-Papua and Puncak Jaya as well as the shootings that continue to occur around the Freeport-Indonesia mine are a clear indication // of the involvement of certain elements of  the security forces of the Indonesian army (TNI), and must therefore be handled by criminal investigations undertaken by the Indonesian police force which is the only force with the legal and judicial powers to do so.

4. The soial and political situation in Papua has greatly improved as a result of the Papuan people deciding to pursue the path of peace in their efforts to solve the conflict in the Land of Papua.

5.  Acts of violence continue to occur in the Land of Papua and take the form of  physical violence as well as armed conflict.

Based on the situation described above, the LP3BH/Manokwari makes the following  demands:

1. The Indonesian Government should put an end to all overt military operations as well as intelligence operations which continue to be conducted against the background and paradigm of security disturbances without being based on political State policies adopted by the Indonesian Parliament/DPR-RI

2. The Indonesian Government should respond wisely and diligently to each and every  offer by the Papuan people to enter into peaceful dialogue free from violence in order to seek a solution to the conflict in the Land of Papua.

3. The Indonesian Government should adopt a more democratic approach, without any movement of espionage, to build a Land of Papua which is more humane. and just and is at all times ready to listen to the innermost feelings of the Papuan people

DAP chairman says Third Congress decisions should be accepted by the government and UN members

Bintang Papua, 10 October 2011

According to Forkorus Yaboisembut, chairman of DAP, the Dewan Adat Papua, the forthcoming Third Papuan Congress will result in decisions that will express the true aspirations of the people of West Papua, in the provinces of both Papua and West Papua.

He said that the results of this Congress should be recognised and put into practice by the Indonesian government and should also be recognised by all the countries which are members of the United Nations.

He called upon the Indonesian government during this era of democracy to accommodate these decisions. ‘If we genuinely uphold the principles of democracy, whatever is decided by the Congress however painful they may be, must be accepted by the Indonesian government.’

He went on to say however that it was quite likely they would not be recognised or implemented by the Indonesian government nor by the members of the United Nations. He said was what normally happens. ‘Some may be pleased while others will not be pleased but we will continue to do everything that we can to convince them that these decisions are correct.’

Regarding the venue of the Congress, he said that UNCEN, the Cenderawasih University had be asked whether its auditorium could be used but they said that they needed the STTP (acknowledgement) from the police which should be forthcoming on 10 October as the chief of police had just arrived back in Jayapura.