West Papua: The crackdown aftermath – finding a dignified solution

LAST MONDAY, Indonesian police arrested more than 1600 people in Jayapura, Papua. They were rallying in support of a coalition of groups representing West Papuans’ aspirations for independence.

The police stopped the protesters, who were heading to the local parliament, forced them to board military trucks, and took them to the Mobile Brigade compound.

The protesters were demonstrating their support for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua’s (ULMWP) bid to gain full membership in the grouping of Melanesian countries, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

The ULMWP holds observer status in the group, which consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Last year, Indonesia was granted associate membership.

To prevent further violent mistreatment of protesters, together with several Papuan councillors and church leaders, that day I [May 2] went to the Mobile Brigade’s compound to negotiate with the security forces to release the detainees peacefully.

Monday’s arrests were the largest in the West Papua independence movement’s history.

Why did thousands of people in Papua take to the streets to support ULMWP?

Public discontent in West Papua is a result of a complicated past. It is a product of historical manipulation and repression of the right to self-determination of West Papuans.

Over the past five decades, the Papuan people have not moved from their position in relation to Indonesia. They have struggled to make progress in their predicament as the oppressed people. They are marginalised, suffering from various forms of violence, and being pushed from their own land.

Solving the problem of West Papua in a dignified manner should involve not only Indonesian authorities but also Papuans and the international community. In that sense, ULMWP and the popular support for ULMWP within West Papua are part of the solution and should not be repressed.

The silenced truth
Ever since West Papua was transferred into the hands of Indonesia in the early 1960s from being a remote outpost of the Dutch, it has become the land of “mourning and grief”.

Gross human rights violations have been taking place in West Papua since Indonesia, backed by the United Nations, annexed the western half of the island of New Guinea in 1963. In 1969, Indonesia gained complete rule of West Papua via a sham referendum.

West Papuans have looked to their Melanesian brothers and sisters to assist them in seeking resolution of past abuses by the Indonesian government and to build a new Papua. But they are still confronted with many challenges.

Last September, countries in the Pacific Islands Forum, a grouping of 14 countries that includes Australia and New Zealand, agreed to send a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in West Papua.

The Indonesian government refused to accept such a team. Indonesia’s co-ordinating minister for politics, law and human rights, Luhut Pandjaitan, instead held two focus group discussions at a luxury hotel in Jayapura for the so-called “settlement of human rights issues”.

But West Papua is a nation that grew up with and is shaped by experiences of living under Indonesia’s military operations. These cannot be solved simply with focus group discussions.

Sadar Operation (1962, 1965-67), Wisnumurti Operation (1963), Wibawa Operation (1969), Pamungkas Operation (1970-1971), military operations in Jayawijaya (1977-80), Sapu Bersih Operation (1979-82), and Tumpas Operation (1983-84) are only a few of a series of violent acts of oppression that have confronted ordinary Papuans.

Today, Indonesia’s militaristic approach in West Papua remains intact. This approach has resulted in a series of acts of intimidation and terror committed by security forces.

They are involved in land expropriation and natural resources extraction under the banner of development and investment, in the name of Papuan welfare.  

Diplomatic pressure from Indonesia
Following the increasing concern and solidarity from the Pacific region and support from the MSG for a resolution of West Papua’s problem, the Indonesian government is aggressively lobbying countries and political leaders in the Pacific.

Upon his return from a visit to PNG and Fiji last month, Pandjaitan boasted that Indonesia had the support of the two countries and could handle the MSG.

At the same time, he argued that foreigners should not interfere in matters of human rights in West Papua.

Meanwhile, environmental destruction and rampant militarism walk hand-in-hand in West Papua.

Papuans are continuously stigmatised as backward, ignorant and poor. This has become a pretext for what Indonesian authorities call “the acceleration and expansion of development”.

Pressed against waves of Indonesian migration, Papuans are not given any chance at all to develop themselves. They are a minority in their own land, not only in terms of number but also in terms of power.

Every protest and negotiation effort by indigenous people is met with brutal responses and security operations.  

Dignified resolution
In talking about West Papua, the Indonesian government often uses language that obscures past abuses. Papua’s relationship with the outside world is heavily controlled.

The Indonesian government makes it difficult for international journalists to cover Papua and bans international researchers from studying the region. Indonesia’s solutions for West Papua are based on shallow reflections and fear of the West Papuan people.

A genuine resolution for the West Papuan problem will only come from Indonesia’s willingness to listen to and stop oppression of West Papuans.

Indonesia should welcome the support from international communities, such as the MSG and the United Nations, as mediators in finding a resolution on West Papua.

Sorgente: Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency: West Papua: The crackdown aftermath – finding a dignified solution

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Mass Arrests in West Papua

Mass Arrests in West Papua.

West Papua Action Canterbury and West Papua Action Auckland call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take action over the latest mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators in West Papua.

‘Mass arrests of activists are becoming an all too common fact of life for the people of West Papua. But this latest wave is so large it sends an ominous signal. New Zealand should let Jakarta know in no uncertain terms that it upholds the rights of free speech and assembly. Wellington should also press for a fact-finding mission to the territory in line with the Pacific Island Forum request for a mission which Jakarta has yet to respond to.’

‘The visit next week of West Papuan human rights defender and Church leader Rev Socratez Yoman is very timely and we are hoping parliamentarians including Government parliamentarians will take advantage of the opportunity to meet with this important guest.’
Letter follows:

3 May 2016

Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Parliament Buildings,
Wellington.
Fax 04 817 6510

Dear Mr McCully,

We are shocked and deeply troubled to learn of the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators over the past few days. While security forces in West Papua have a notorious reputation for arbitrary arrests, these latest arrests are on mass scale and send an ominous signal of increased repression.

We understand from numerous reports that the police have arrested at least 500 and possibly over 1000 demonstrators during a rally in the capital Jayapura. Reports also state that dozens were arrested in the Papuan regional centres of Merauke, Manokwari, Wamena and Sorong and even at solidarity demonstrations in Central Java and South Sulawesi. Last month peaceful rallies held on the 13 and 29 April also ended with over 40 arrests on each occasion.

This severe crackdown was prompted by nothing more than peaceful demonstrations calling for popular support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, (ULMWP) and its and its effort to reach full member status of the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group. The demonstrators also showed their support for the meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in London on 3 May.

This is an outrageous situation. The people of West Papua are entitled under international law to the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and assembly. The Indonesian authorities need to be told by all democratic governments, especially those like New Zealand who are near neighbours of West Papua, that these breaches of fundamental rights must stop.

As you know the last meeting of the Pacific Island Forum resolved to request Indonesia to permit a fact-finding mission to go to the territory. New Zealand should now pressure Jakarta to allow this mission to take place as soon as possible so that the West Papuan people can tell the outside world their stories.

We are understand that your commitments currently prevent you from meeting Papuan Church leader Socratez Yoman when he visits Wellington on the 10th and 11th May but should any other Government Minister or MP be free to meet with him on your behalf we would be pleased to arrange that.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater and Brian Turner
For West Papua Action Auckland and West Papua Action Canterbury.

Sorgente: Mass Arrests in West Papua | Scoop News

Global day of action to raise the Morning Star

Calling on ALL our supporters to take part in the biggest global day of action for West Papua.

flag foreheadThis year on 1st December the Free West Papua Campaign is calling on people all around the world to take pictures of themselves holding or raising the West Papuan Morning Star flag in solidarity with the people of West Papua. Please take part and share the photos on social media to build a truly global picture of the support for a Free West Papua. You can buy flags to raise on the day or you can simply print out this image of the flag. Be imaginative and have fun by thinking of an eye catching or significant location or why not try to get as many people as possible all holding images of the flag in one photo. The campaign team will also send a Free West Papua poster signed by Benny Wenda to the person or group who we think has taken the best/most dramatic photo.

A number of town halls around the world have also been symbolically raising the Morning Star flag on 1st December over the last few years. Please ask your town hall if they are willing to join in.

flag in front riot policeThe 1st December marks West Papua’s original independence day when the Morning Star flag was first raised in 1961 before being invaded by Indonesia. The flag is recognised as the national flag of West Papua and continues to be the defining symbol for a Free West Papua. Today, Papuan’s who raise the flag face arrest, torture and long jail sentences. Filep Karma is currently serving 15 years in prison for raising the flag on 1st December 2004. Flag raising ceremonies have been attacked by Indonesian police and military, shots fired into crowds and violently dispersed. Despite this level of repression the Morning Star flag will again be raised by West Papuans this year on 1st December and we want all supporters around the world to join them in a huge show of solidarity and awareness raising.

Join us to make this 1st December the biggest day of global action for West Papua. Raise the Morning Star and stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of West Papua. Share your pictures via social media to show your friends, family and the world that you support Freedom for West Papua.

Please share all photos with us via our facebook or twitter (use #risemorningstar) accounts or email them to office@freewestpapua.org.

For more inspiration here are some of the flag raising actions that have previously happened around the world:

Christian  Welponer a world famous mountaineer flies the Morning Star flag on the peak of the highest mountain in West Papua in defiance of the Indonesian authorities.

Flags are flown in large numbers in Melbourne.

A daring flag raising ceremony in the central highlands of West Papua.

The Morning Star flag flies above Oxford Town Hall.

The Morning Star flag proudly held under the seas of Vanuatu.

The West Papuan flag is hoisted from the city hall in the capital of Papua New Guinea.

The Morning Star flag is raised in Jayapura/Port Numbay the capital of West Papua in defiance of the Indonesian authorities.

Thousands of people raise there fists in support at Blue King Brown hold the Morning Star flag on stage at the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Australia.

Morning Star flags flown off the coast of West Papua.

The Morning Star proudly held aloft in Auckland.

Can you beat this?

thanks to: Free West Papua Campaign

As President celebrates ‘Sail Raja Ampat’, one of his critics is abducted, killed and dumped at sea

(Apologies for the delay in Posting to the site (all news still is being delivered to journalists direct as it breaks). WPM has been under severe security threat from Indonesian agents in Papua and Australia, associated with the arrests of French journalists).

Reports from our network partners at AwasMifee

On 19th August, Martinus Yohame in his role as the chair of the Sorong Branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) held a press conference, explaining his organisation’s opposition to the Indonesian President’s visit to the area to open the Sail Raja Ampat event aimed at promoting tourism to Papua. He also raised the issue of illegal logging. The next day he disappeared.

As friends and colleagues spent the subsequent days searching for him, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the sailing regatta, where he once again promised extra funds to develop infrastructure for infrastructure in Papua, and also inaugurated a statue of Jesus Christ on Marsinam Island near Manokwari.

Then on the 26th, a fisherman found the body of Martinus Yohame floating by the shore in at Nana Island, near Sorong. He had been shot in the chest, his face smashed up, and with another wound in his stomach. He had been placed in a sack, with his arms and legs tied. His abductors remain unknown.

This story has not yet received widespread coverage in the Papuan media, and at the time of writing the KNPB had yet to issue a statement on its website. Tabloidjubi however has picked up the story – here is a translation of one of their articles:

Deceased Sorong KNPB Chair believed to have been disappeared.

Jayapura, 26/8 (Jubi) – Martinus Yohame, Chair of the Greater Sorong area branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) was found found dead floating near the shore of Nana Island, in the Doom Island area of Sorong. He is believed to have been disappeared.

A spokesperson for the Papua-wide KNPB, Basoka Logo made this clear to tabloidjubi.com. He said that previously on the evening of Wednesday 20th August, the KNPB had received information that Martinus Yohame had been abducted.

“But we can’t be sure yet who his captors were. Now today we have heard the news that he has been found dead. We cannot yet say which group is responsible for his diasppearance.  At the current time we are
still unsure,” Basoka Logo said via his mobile phone on Tuesday (26/8).

He explained that the late Martinus Yohame was responsible for the Bird’s Head peninsula area of West Papua. He could not give any further information at the time as he had not received a full report from his colleagues in Sorong.

“Just now we only received a short report about the death of the Sorong KNPB Chair – what I know is that he was found near the Kota Baru area, and his body is currently lying at the Sorong KNPB secretariat”, he said.

At present, according to Logo, colleagues in Sorong are still collecting data and statements about the death of the Chair of the KNPB in Sorong. “Only when this is done will we be able to give a full statement. The First Chair of the KNPB central organisation, Agus Kosay just arrived in Sorong by plane. It was him that officially reported to us that it was true the Chair of the KNPB in Sorong had been found,” he said.

The chair of the KNPB in the Bird’s Head region, including Greater Sorong, Martin Yohame, was tragically found dead some time before, his body was discovered by a fisherman on Tuesday morning (26/8) at around 7.00 am local time floating near Nana Island, not far from the Doom Island area. When found, Martinus’s body had been tied up tightly in a sack. Both his legs and arms had also been tied, presumably hoping his body would sink to the bottom of the ocean.

According to the Sorong City General Hospital’s examination, a gunshot wound was found on the left side of his chest. The victims face was also smashed up by being hit by a hard object, “We found a gunshot wound in his left chest. His face was destroyed,” said Yori, a worker at the hospital.
The Sorong police chief Adjunct Commissioner Harri Golden Hart confirmed that a body had been found. “We are still in the process of identification, and finding out whether it is true that he was killed,” Harri said.

After the autopsy, the victim’s family and KNPB members brought the victim’s body to be laid out in the house of mourning in Malanu village, in the Papua Christian University complex.

From data collected by tabloid jubi, the external examination conducted at the Sorong City General Hospital revealed a hole in the left chest 1x1cm, and another in the right side of the stomach of around 2x3cm. The man’s height was 179 cm and he had dreadlocks.

Before his body was found, the KNPB had issued a statement with some further details of the press conference and what happened afterwards, along with their guesses for possible abductors and their motives. This is an excerpt from that statement, as published on umaginews.com:

We believe that the Sorong KNPB chair was abducted by Kopassus [army special forces] or BIN [state intelligence agency] because on the 20th he received a phone call from someone and went outside. Now five days have passed but he hasn’t been found.

Previously on 19th August Martinus Yohame and other KNPB officials held a press conference at 15.00 Papuan time in front of the Sorong Mayor’s office, attended by several reporters from the Sorong area, in connection with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to Papua and in particular to the Sorong area to open the Sail Raja Ampat event in Waisai, on Saturday 23rd August 2014.

Martinus Yohame, supported by the deputy chair of the KNPB, Kantius H, invited journalists from several print media organisations to use information from the press conference in their reports about the president’s visit KNPB used the opportunity to express their opposition to President SBY’s visit to the land of Papua.

At the same time they expressed their opposition to illegal logging, exploiting Papua’s natural riches and developing Raja Ampat as a Global Marine Tourism centre, all of which they judge to be stealing from and destroying Papua’s ecosystems and forests with no benefit for the people of Papua as a whole who own the land and resources.

This is why the KNPB and the PRD (People’s Regional Parliament) are clear in their opposition. We believe he was abducted by the security forces or the intelligence agency as part of their efforts to secure SBY’s visit, which the KNPB opposes.

Just two minutes after the press meeting finished at 3.15, a woman telephoned the KNPB Sorong chair. This woman claimed to be from the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta, and she wanted to meet.  Several moments later, she came to meet the KNPB chair and his group outside the mayor’s office in a red Avanza. Inside was a man with a large Canon video camera, and they invited Martinus Yohame to accompany them to the Sorong Mega Mall, at the 9km post. The woman then took them to eat in a cafe next to the Megamall, and while they ate they held a meeting, although it is not known what they spoke about in this meeting.

Before the meeting broke up, he and the woman exchanged mobile phone numbers. The woman then said that “the next meeting will take place on Wednesday 20th August and we will get in touch”.

Afterwards they maintained communication via telephone and text message, with the last message on Wednesday 20th at 12.00 Papua time. That night they told Martinus to leave his house and it was on the street that they abducted him. He has not been found until now….

Source: Umagi News

The West Papua National Committee is an organisation that believes West Papua should have the right to self determination. It was formed in around 2009, but after it gained prominence with a series of large demonstrations demanding a referendum on independence there was a major crackdown, with many leaders around Papua jailed or killed, especially in 2012.  Since that wave of repression, the KNPB has found it difficult to organise, as local leaders are often detained a day or two days before a planned demonstration or significant event.

If elements of the Indonesian State were indeed responsible for Martinus Yohame’s disappearance, it is likely that he was targeted for his pro-independence stance. However, it is worth remembering that in the press conference before he disappeared Martinus Yohame also spoke of the problems of illegal logging and the tourism industry, and he is not the first KNPB leader have raised the issues of natural resource development that marginalises the Papuan people.  At the same time, indigenous people are threatened by state security forces of being treated as separatists when they state their opposition to development projects. The climate of intimidation in Papua is not limited to the independence movement alone, but impacts all areas in which Papuan people need to assert their needs and desires for a more just future.

As Martinus Yohame was being brutally beaten, or maybe he was already dead by that time, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was nearby on Raja Ampat celebrating the progress made in his development-focussed strategy for Papua, making statements such as “ lets keep going with the positive development that has already been achieved in Papua and West Papua”.  His audience of civil servants and tourism executives listened and watched as a flotilla of boats including 14 Indonesian navy ships as well as warships from the US, Australia and Singapore joined a sail past. Media hailed the event as a great success.

West Papua Media has highly credible but unconfirmed reports that Martinus Yohame was also targeted by Indonesian intelligence for potentially having contact with the two French Journalists still being detained in Abepura.  Many of our people are currently in danger because of this situation.

thanks to: West Papua Media Alerts