Large rally against torture held Serui; Police confiscate rally equipment, then apologise to organisers

by Nick Chesterfield, Ronny Kareni; local sources for West Papua Media team

Serui, Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indonesian police in Serui, off the north coast of West Papua, this morning have forcefully confiscated banners, Morning Star flags, amplifiers and other rally paraphernalia from West Papuan protestors, before allowing a major rally against torture to go ahead. Despite providing police with significant notice, organisers of today’s rallies have met with inconsistent police policy in allowing legitimate peaceful expression to occur.

The rallies are being held by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) to express opposition to institutionalised Indonesian security force torture and maltreatment of West Papuan people, and against the continuing criminalisation of legitimate peaceful dissent.  It is also to support efforts in Washington DC for West Papua by Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) including seminars, a Vigil to End Torture in front of the White House, and Congressional Briefings on Capitol Hill.  The rally had been planned to conduct a traditional long march or “jigjog” to the offices of the DPRD, the Papuan Provincial Parliament.

Police in Serui conducted security sweeps of the area from 8 to 10 pm last night.  “This is a usual sweeping that security forces do for security measures prior to an event”. said Pak Eddy, the head of intelligence for the police (KAINTEL POLRES) in Serui said via phone to West Papua Media.

At 8am this morning, rally organisers were visited by two uniformed Papuan police officers, who told WPNA Serui Governor David Abon to cancel the long march from Wombai Park to the DPRD office. Instead, they instructed Abon to drop people with trucks to the office, but stated firmly that Police “will not provide security for the protesters, nor guarantee their safety”.

Rally organisers expressed fears that this would be a prelude for police standing down in the face of militia or military violence, and were perturbed that the police would abrogate its State Responsibility for providing security for civilians engaging in legitimate peaceful expression.   The Indonesian police has a long and regular history of standing to one side while military or military controlled civilian groups conduct serious acts of violence against political or religious opposition, such as with East Timor, in West Papua, and more recently against the Ahmadiyah.  However, neither the WPNA nor Police have shared any specific intelligence about pro-Jakarta militia mobilisations, despite the local presence of both the Laskar Merah Putih, and the newly formed Euricio Guterres / Bas Suebu militia, ASWAIN.

Over 1000 people had begun to gather at Wombai Park, Serui, on Thursday morning in preparation for the long march and listen to speeches and music.  At 10:00am, as people were meeting to discuss security situation and day’s plans, one company (150 police) of local Police present at Wombai confiscated with force a truck, Morning Star flags and material (like bags and beanies), amplifiers, and four banners. Due to the speed and force used, people at the park were subject to mounting fear, and were uncertain for their safety.

KAINTEL Eddy told the crowd,  “Don’t bring flags or banners to the rally, but rally can still go ahead”.  This action was is contravention to the rights of people to engage in free cultural expression.

The crowd then dispersed peacefully from Wombai and made its way to the DPRD office.  Over 200 armed Gegana paramilitary motorbike police are in attendance, as are two companies of normal police.

WPNA Security is still on high alert against agents provocateur, and has clear line of communication open to prevent escalation with both Pak Eddy and the KAPOLRES (Regency level Chief of Police, currently in Jayapura).

In Mantembu at midday, prior to that march joining with the main rally, Police attempted to shut down the march, and again seized banners that displayed the Morning Star symbol.  An intense vocal confrontation between WPNA and Police ensued, but negotiations with Police successfully agreed the rally to be continued until 4pm.

” We will provide the safety and security of all the participants”, said Terrianus Israel Yoku, National Congress President of WPNA.   “We want to freely exercise our rights to freedom of assembly, and we ask for security forces to respect the rights of West Papuans to voice our concerns”, said Yoku.

“Even though the security forces stop trucks and confiscate morning star flags, banners and amplifiers, it wont stop us marching in peace” said David Abon, govenor of Yapen Waropen.

The Kapolres and KAINTEL POLRES apologised to Reverend Yoku, WPNA, for the confiscation of items and the force that was used against demonstrators this morning.

Participants from Wombai joined with the 500 Mantembu marchers, who then joined over 3000 people already gathered at DPRD.  Delegations also came from Sorong, Manokwari, Jayapura, Fak Fak, Bintuni, Waropen, and Mamberamo.  Over 5000 people stayed upon the steps of the DPRD office listening to speeches and music.

“A Salute to everyone who made the decision to participate in this long march for peace and justice in West Papua. This is an act of working together in support of what is happening in Australia and Washington to speak out on the ongoing torture and issues towards indigenous West Papuans”,  said Jacob Rumbiak, WPNA Foreign Affairs Coordinator, in Australia.

“Today, the international advocates are monitoring the situation in West Papua, especially in Serui, and we ask the Indonesian security forces to respect the rally and allow every West Papuans to freely exercise their freedom of expression and freedom assembly”, said Terry Bukorpioper, WPNA’s designated spokesperson to the UN.

At time of writing,  close to 5000 people joined on the steps of DPRD in a closing prayer with Reverend Phil Ayeni to peacefully end the rally.

West Papua Media will continue to monitor the situation closely, and provide timely updates.

THOUSANDS OF INDIGENOUS WEST PAPUANS TO GATHER IN SERUI TO SUPPORT WEST PAPUA NATIONAL AUTHORITY (WPNA) AT TASSC ‘ABOLISH TORTURE WEEK’ IN WASHINGTON DC

by West Papua National Authority Foreign Affairs office

David Abon, Governor of the West Papua National Authority in Yapen-Waropen-Mamberano, says that having two representatives in Washington participating in ABOLISH TORTURE WEEK in Washington DC is a source of inspiration for all West Papuans.

Herman Wainggai has been invited by the Coalition of International Torture Abolition and Survivors Support (TASSC) to participate in its seminars at George Washington University and Catholic University of America, a Vigil to End Torture in front of the White House, and Congressional Briefings on Capital Hill.

“Herman’s presence at this international gathering shows the world that West Papua’s independence is an international issue, and well beyond the capacity of the Indonesian government to deal with” said Mr Abon in Serui.

“When the US Congress hears about the latest Indonesian military activities in West Papua, they will be listening closely” said Rev. Terrianus Yoku, President of WPNA Congress, as thousands welcomed him in Serui for the rally today.

In the distinguished tradition of non-violence, the WPNA rally in Serui on begins with a long march (called “jigjog” in local slang) from Wombai Park on the beach to the People Representatives Office (DPRD).

“All West Papuans want is justice and democracy” said WPNA’s Jacob Rumbiak in Australia, himself a victim of torture and long-term incarceration. “Is President Yudhoyono brave enough to follow President Obama’s signature on self-determination for Puerto Ricans”.

“Releasing our political prisoners would be a good start” he added.

RALLY INTERVIEWS:  contact details for on ground spokespeople available to bona fide journalists – please contact West Papua Media on +61450079106 or editor<@>westpapuamedia.infoWest Papua Media will be be monitoring the situation closely.

CORRECTION: AN EARLIER POST SAID THAT KNPB (KOMITE NASIONAL PAPUA BARAT) WILL ALSO BE HOLDING RALLIES IN JAYAPURA IN CONJUNCTION WITH THESE DEMOS.  WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED THAT THIS IS INCORRECT, HOWEVER PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES FOR KNPB ACTIONS.

Comprehending West Papua: A report on the CPACS conference in Sydney and surrounding events

University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Comprehending Papua Conference

February 22-23, 2011

Comprehending West Papua: A report on the CPACS conference in Sydney and surrounding events

 

“We are Melanesian, not Indonesian!” and “Free Filip Karma!” chanted a group of West Papuans from around Australia – some refugees, some studying in Australia on scholarships – who had gathered in front of the Indonesian embassy in Maroubra, Sydney, on February 22, 2011. This demonstration urging Indonesia to free West Papuan political prisoners kicked off a week of events in Sydney bringing together academics and other advocates to focus on the status of West Papuan human rights.

 

Later that evening, a cocktail reception hosted by the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney, followed by a dinner for conference participants, marked a merry beginning to a serious conference on Comprehending West Papua (February 23-4), the sixth in a series of conferences on the topic held by CPACS over a decade.

 

The conference was opened the following day by Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees and a performance group from the West Papuan community in Melbourne, both of whom graced the conference, respectively, with West Papua-centred revolutionary poetry and songs of inspiration. Up to 80 people attended the conference which convened at International House, with presenters from overseas (The Netherlands, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Vanuatu), and interstate (Victoria and the ACT). Papers from in absentia participants (Paul Barber and Rosa Moiwend from TAPOL based in Surrey, John Saltford from London and Jim Elmslie from South Australia) were presented on their behalf, and Eben Kirksey, currently based in Florida, addressed the conference via video link.

 

The conference received good media coverage prompting an op ed in the Sydney Morning Herald by Hamish McDonald (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/a-worm-inside-the-new-); several ABC radio interviews http://www.abc.net.au/ra/asiapac/stories/m1965274.asx; a New Matilda article (http://newmatilda.com/2011/03/03/does-west-papua-have-publicity-problemINTERVIEW), and coverage by Radio New Zealand International and SBS.

 

Paper highlights covered new interpretations of self-determination, from Akihisa Matsuno, in light of the concept of legitimate sovereignty (rather than decolonization) that guided the independence successes of East Timor, Kosovo and (soon to be) South Sudan; a presentation by Nick Chesterfield on the opportunities afforded for West Papua by new social media currently carrying revolutions in the Arab world; a spectacular analysis of the Australian Museum’s Sentani bark cloth art production by Yvonne Carrillo-Huffman; the outlaying of precise political goals for achieving independence and for post-independence governance by Jacob Rumbiak; and an astute reappraisal of the anti-Act of Free Choice campaigns that took place in West Papua in the 1960s by Dutch historian Pieter Drooglever. The entire collection of papers will be gathered into a book to be published later this year.

 

West Papuan political positions were represented by Rex Rumakiek and Otto Ondawame from the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Jacob Rumbiak and Herman Wainggai from the West Papua National Authority, and Franzalbert Joku and Nick Messet from IGSSARPRI (the Independent Group Supporting the Special Autonomous Region of Papua Within the Republic of Indonesia). Passions ran high as discussions on the different political positions (essentially support for independence or integration) predictably emerged with so much at stake for all, but a respectful atmosphere reigned and peaceful dialogue between parties transpired.

The conference closed with the launch of a beautiful short film titled Mambefor Dance directed by West Papuan Melanie Kapisa, showcasing two young children learning West Papuan dance from imitating bird of paradise rituals. Dr Jude Philp from the Macleay Museum also generously showed conference participants around the University of Sydney’s West Papua collection donated in the 1970s and housed at Fisher Library. Finally, conference participants signed an open letter initiated by Human Rights Watch to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, requesting that the prohibitive restrictions on access to West Papua be lifted for researchers, NGOs and foreign media.

That evening at the Amnesty International offices in Sydney, Indonesian Solidarity launched a campaign to free West Papuan political prisoners. The launch was addressed by Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono with a powerful presentation documenting Filip Karma’s imprisonment, and John Dowd, QC, President of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Australia. The week closed on Saturday 26 February with the annual national meeting of the Australia West Papua Association at which campaign decisions to support West Papuan self-determination for 2011-2012 were decided upon, together with West Papuan advisers (and members) Rex Rumakiek, Jacob Rumbiak, and Otto Ondawame.

 

Cammi Webb-Gannon camelliabell at gmail.com;

Seven Papuan activists are now in jail of POLRES Manokwari for conducting peaceful demonstration and unfurling 14-star flag

The following news has been translated from Cahaya Papua daily
newspaper – Thursday 30 December 2010.
For further information about these activists please contact the cell
phone their lawyers:
Leonard Yarollo: +62 852 44553375
Jan Christian Warinussy: +62 81344694500

Title:
Melky Bleskadit and his Friends Rejects Signing the Letter of Transfer
to Public Prosecutor

Manokwari – Seven Papuan activists who were arrested and charged with
treason articles for the case of unfurling the 14-Star Flag on 14
December 2010 reject to sign the letter of transfer for their arrest
to public prosecutor.
One of the suspects who is now in the (jail) of Polres Manokwari,
Melky Bleskadit says that he does not want to sign the paper because
it is not procedural.
“We have been accompanied by our lawyer, so everything that is related
to legal process of us has to be done through our lawyer, Jan
Christian Warinussy,” he said to Cahaya Papua daily newspaper from
behind the iron bars.
The secretary general of the Council of the Committee for the
Preparation of the Proclamation of the Sovereignty and Independence of
West Melanesia said that until now since being arrested, he and his
friends have just been examined once which was the moment after they
had just been detained and brought to the office of the Indonesian
police in Manokwari.
Melky said that he was asked 38 questions related to his involvement
during their action on 14 December especially his action of unfurling
the 14-Star flag for the duration of around 10 seconds in front of the
mass while giving his oration.
Quoting his answer to the police, Melky rejects the accusation which
says that their action is an “aksi makar” or act of treason against
the government and sovereignty of NKRI (the unitary state of the
Republic of Indonesia). According to him, expressing his opinion is
the right of everybody which has been regulated in the Indonesian
constitution of UUD 1945 article 39 verses 17 and 18, Law No 9 year
1998, as well as Law No. 14 year 2008.
The handling of Papuan case, furthermore he says, has to be carried
out democratically by respecting values of humanity. In his opinion,
dialogue is the best way to respond and to find final solution to the
conflict between Papua and the NKRI.
Melky stated that the central government have used passive and
repressive approaches towards the Papuan people.
“Papuan people have democratic rights, so we deserve to be given space
for democracy. Don’t use repressive approach in solving the conflict,”
he said.
Melky and his friends have been in the detention room for 16 days
since the day when they were arrested. The room with the size of 5 x 8
meters is filled with Melky and his friends, together with 20 other
criminals.
He said that he had submitted a letter for requesting the postponement
of their arrest to chief of the Indonesian police of Manokwari regency
to celebrate Christmas with families but his effort has been rejected.

WPNA: WEST PAPUANS WANT PAYBACK FROM THE US

MEDIA RELEASE:  WEST PAPUA NATIONAL AUTHORITY, 22 Sept 2010

WEST PAPUANS WANT PAYBACK FROM THE US

Today there are rallies at US Embassies in West Papua, Jakarta, Melbourne and Perth, reminding US Senators in a Congressional Hearing in Washington of Indonesia’s atrocious human rights record in West Papua and the republic’s dismal effort to decentralize, demilitarize or democratize.

West Papuan lawyer, Edison Waromi, who is President of the West Papua National Authority, arrived in Washington this morning to attend the Congressional hearing.

“We West Papuans have a lot of history with the United States” he said. “General MacArthur’s children might not know their father dropped us two thousand guns to fight the Japanese during World War 2. John Kennedy’s children probably don’t want to know their father called us ‘just 700,000 cannibals’ as he artfully bullied the Dutch into relinquishing its colony to the Indonesians. I would of course remind Ellsworth Bunker’s children that their father was the architect of the New York Agreement that enslaved us to the Indonesians. And then there’s Mr Kissinger and the whole Freeport mine business”.

The West Papua National Authority/West Papua National Consensus is in Washington to advise American politicians to support

(1)     The re-insertion of West Papua on the UN Decolonization List

(2)    West Papuans’ inalienable right to self-determination in terms of the recent ICJ ruling on Kosovo

(3)    An international fact-finding and peace-keeping mission to West Papua immediately.

“Ultimately someone has to take responsibility for the 546,000 ‘missing’ Papuans since the beginning of the Indonesian occupation in 1962” said Mr Waromi.

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