Jumat, 23 Desember 2011


Benny Wenda: ‘There’s a silent genocide going on in West Papua'

He might have just been put on an Interpol “wanted” list but West Papuan independence activist Benny Wenda has more important issues on his mind

Benny Wenda: Oxford man will get a fair trial on terror charges - Indonesian official
'I had no involvement': Benny Wenda claims he is innocent of the crimes Indonesia wants to try him for Photo: GETTY
Issued at the request of Indonesian authorities, in relation to charges of arson and murder which he vehemently denies, the Interpol “red notice” means that Wenda can be arrested in, and possibly extradited from, any one of the crime-fighting agency's 190 member states.
Considering that he has been living relatively undisturbed in Britain since he fled from his homeland nearly a decade ago, the softly-spoken lobbyist admits he was “surprised” to learn about the alert – but thinks he knows why it’s happened now.
“Indonesia is getting worried,” he says simply. “I’m campaigning to free my people and I’m travelling abroad as well as up and down the UK, speaking in Parliament, things like that.... It’s definitely politically motivated.”
Wenda, 37, is at the forefront of a long and bitter battle over the sovereignity of West Papua, the former Dutch colony on the island of New Guinea which passed into Indonesian control in the 1960s. Although a referendum on the takeover was held in 1969, the fact that it involved only around 1,000 hand-picked Papuan men (just one per cent of the native population), under the watchful eyes of the Indonesian military, means that many people – Wenda included – regard it as little more than a sham, and the decades since have been marked by bloody conflict.
Wenda, a tribal chief who describes himself as a "leader" of the West Papuan people, has long been considered a hero by those in support of the independence movement. Others, however, have denounced him as an inciter of conflict – and even a potentially dangerous criminal. In 2002, he was placed on trial for spearheading a deadly attack on buildings in the town of Aberpura, but broke out of prison and fled the country before judgement was passed.
It is for this reason that Indonesian authorities say they want him back on Papuan soil; though Wenda, of course, has a very different opinion as to their motives: "I had no involvement. I wasn't even in the country.They just wanted me in prison." He says that he had no choice but to escape from jail: already doubtful that he was going to be given an fair trial, a number of threats he received there made him fearful for his life, and he finally resolved to go one night when a guard whispered through the bars of his cell: “You are already fed, man” – a reference to the Papuan custom of fattening pigs up before slaughter. “I thought, if I try to escape and they kill me, well that’s ok, because at least I won’t have been killed like an animal.” Shortly afterwards, he broke into a ventilation shaft and escaped over the border into neighbouring Papua New Guinea.
After being granted political asylum in Britain, Wenda decided to set up the campaign, Free West Papua, dedicated not only to promoting the province’s independence, but to exposing what he alleges are serious human rights abuses taking place under Indonesian rule. In this, he is not alone. A number of human rights groups have spoken out in the past against what they see as Indonesia's oppressive approach to resistance: a report from Amnesty International released just earlier this year warned that: "The people of Papua are subject to severe human rights violations at the hands of the Indonesian authorities. Their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are heavily curtailed. Many people are imprisoned simply for having taken part in non-violent demonstrations, or having expressed their opinions."
Wenda, however, alleges that it is not only those who speak out who are badly treated. The picture he paints is of a place where institutional racism is rife, and where the the indigenous people are regularly beaten, sexually assaulted and tortured, without provocation. As a child, he claims to have to have seen countless atrocities, from his village being razed to the ground during an Indonesian air strike, to family members being murdered and raped in front of him, and "has lived with that trauma all my life." Today, he believes, the situation is "even worse".
What actually goes in in West Papua is, however, difficult to know; a ban on foreign media, as well as many charitable organisations, means life there is shrouded in secrecy. This, Wenda believes, is why international awareness of the situation is so low. “Because the media are banned, because groups like the Red Cross and Amnesty are banned, no one knows what’s happening.That’s what lets them get away away with it.
"It’s a silent genocide of my people. Just last month, three people peacefully protesting were killed, and hundreds detained, beaten and tortured. No one’s been charged. No one’s been arrested – just a few police questioned."
Wenda’s quest to tell the world about the fate of Papua will certainly be weakened by the Interpol alert; fear of arrest means that foreign travel is now out of the question. Alongside the campaign group Fair Trials International however, he hopes to be able to pressure Interpol to remove the notice, and until then will continue fighting his corner from Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Maria, and six children.
Does he find it difficult, I ask, working so many thousands of miles from his homeland? “Physically, it is hard being away from the people,” he concedes. “But I’m in regular communication, and I am watching 24 hours to see what’s going on."
One day, he hopes to return to his homeland. "But only," he says firmly, "when it is free

Rabu, 21 Desember 2011


A War between Indonesia Military and TPN/OPM

A War between Indonesia Military and West Papuan Liberation Army in Paniai, West Papua
International Forum for West Papua (INFO_WP)
December 20, 2011
Fourteen Paniai residents died as National Liberation Army of Free Papua Organisation (TPN/OPM), the second division in Eduda Hill headquarter and 47 villages in the area were burnt down by the Indonesian security forces last week.
The brutal attacks that started on December 13 have been conducted by combined Indonesian Police Mobile Brigade unit (BRIMOB), military and Indonesian police of Anti-Terrorist unit, Detachment 88. Five helicopters have also been used to support the attacks.
It resulted of displacement up to 542 civilians in the area. They have moved to Enarotali, Paniai district capital, and other 10,000 residents escaped to the jungle. Three women died: a two year old Otolince Degei was killed on December 9, and Yulimina Gobay, (4) and Anna Degei (47) were also killed on December 14.
“This brutal attack is a violation of human rights” said Papuana Mote, the Women Affairs Coordinator of International Forum for West Papua (INFO_WP). “They need to be protected from any cruel and brutal acts.”
The Australian government is responsible to the attack, as both Australia and United States of America have funded Detachment 88. The Detachment 88 is responsible to the killing of freedom fighters and innocent West Papuans
Amatus Douw, President of INFO_WP, said “guerrilla war between Indonesia and West Papuan freedom fighters will not end until there is a third party intervention”. “I have direct contact with the commander of TPN/OPM, John Yogi who told me that they are ready to fight against the Indonesian government to get our independence. The TPN/OPM calls international peace keeping force and UNs fact finding team to monitor the situation”.

Sabtu, 17 Desember 2011

West Papua: How To Lose A Country

West Papua: How to lose a country

When Julia Gillard meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono in Bali on the weekend West Papua barely got a mention. Although the text messages inside West Papua went into overdrive with the rumour that the reason Australia and the United States were stationing 2,500 U.S Marines in Darwin was to prepare for military intervention in West Papua.
I told my friends in West Papua it wasn’t true.
But then I got thinking. Actually Australia is doing a lot to help Indonesia loosen their grip on the troubled territory. Not by design of course. But the effect is much the same as if the Government suddenly adopted a radical pro-independence policy.
Confused? Let me explain.
Last month the Indonesian police and military fired live rounds into an unarmed crowd of civilians in West Papua, killing five. The Army and Police then tried to make out that it wasn’t them, that what had taken place was a coup by the Papuan Liberation Army; that it was the Papuans who were doing the shooting. Yudhuyono tried to sell Obama and Gillard a version of that story in Bali on the weekend. That might have washed twenty years ago but in this age of social media and smart phones it is much more difficult to hide the evidence.
Since the killing of five Papuans on October 19, the wounding of scores more and the arrest of six Papuan leaders, international media coverage of West Papua has spiked and Indonesia’s international standing has taken a beating. The Army, Police and President’s denials and attempts at cover-up have not helped the government’s reputation.
The killings have also generated outrage and division within Indonesia. And October 19 was not an isolated incident. A series of shocking acts of torture of Papuans by the Indonesian military have been captured on video and recently released. And when I speak of outrage I am not talking about protests from human rights groups. National legislators from a range of Indonesian political parties have begun to publicly criticise the Indonesian military, police and even the President over the government’s policy, or lack of it, in West Papua. Even the cautious Indonesian Bishop’s Conference urged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono to hold a third party mediated dialogue without delay.
Indonesian critics recognise that the political crisis in West Papua is spiralling out of control and that the central government and the security forces are making things worse. Indonesian journalist Bramantyo Prijosusilo writing in the Jakarta Globe went as far as saying that the “powerful forces bent on forcing Papuans to separate from Indonesia are none other than the central government, especially its military and police force.”
He has a point. West Papua teeters on the brink of open rebellion. After the shooting on October 19 one student previously uninvolved with politics told me “if the police and military thought they could shoot us dead like animals and we would somehow stop pressing for freedom, they are wrong. We don’t care about the military; we don’t care about the police. We are not afraid anymore.” Days later he was on the streets along with 3,000 other Papuans calling for a referendum.
This is not just about political insurrection. The economy is on the brink as well.
Consider the massive Freeport/Rio Tinto gold and copper mine. Eight thousand mine workers there have been on strike since July. Freeport’s pipeline has been cut in more than 20 places, the company has been unable to deliver on its contracts, the local government in Mimika which depends on revenue from the mine to supply services is cash strapped, and Freeport itself is losing billions.
That could mean Australian jobs are affected. Over 800 Australian companies supply the mine through Cairns and Darwin. The Australian owned company International Purveying Incorporated sends everything from Toyota’s, heavy mining equipment, and frozen beef dinners to Freeport every few days.
How long shareholders and investors will put up with heavy loses and adverse economic risk is any ones guess. But it won’t be forever. And it is not just Freeport / Rio Tinto that is in the firing line. BP, Clive Palmer’s nickel businesses in Raja Ampat, and logging interests are all the target of a torrent of anger from landowners. CEOs like Palmer and Freeport’s Bob Moffet may not ask the Indonesian government to negotiate with Papuans demanding political freedoms but sooner or later shareholders and investors will demand just that.
So how is the Australian government responding to these shifting power dynamics? Well that is the problem. They are not. The government’s position is the same as it has always been: continued support for the Indonesian military / police unhinged from any tangible improvements in human rights such as guarantees of free speech, release of political prisoners or moves towards supporting political dialogue.
No matter what side of the political fence you sit this is not smart policy.
For years Papuans have been telling our leaders that Special Autonomy had failed, that the Freeport mine was a source of conflict, and that the military and police were killing them. Just in case we were not paying attention they described the situation as “slow motion genocide”.
So for those realists out there who think an independent West Papua would be a mistake, here’s some free policy advice: stop funding the armed group splitting Indonesia apart.
Giving a blank cheque to the Indonesian military while there is continued suppression of political freedoms in West Papua is the surest way for Australia to help Indonesia lose a country.
It seems the Australian government might be eager to usher in freedom in West Papua after all.
Jason MacLeod is the newest blogger on This Blog Harms. Jason will be blogging mostly about civil resistance, particularly the use of people power in self-determination struggles in places such as West Papua. 


  1. 1
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
    This really has the potential to be very troublesome.
  2. 2
    Danuarta Roger
    Posted November 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
    LOL, this article if full of gross miscomprehension of the entire Papuan situation.
    Firstly, the strike and sabotage faced by Freeport is not done by native Papuans or by the separatists, instead it is being led by a Javanese employee with military connections, Mr Sudiro.
    I believe this whole strike and sabotage episode is an underhanded attempt by Indonesian government (President Yudhoyono in particular) to force Freeport to provide more money to the government in view of approaching 2014 elections. These foreign mining companies has always been milk-cow for Indonesian politicians.
    President Yudhoyono has noted how his opponent Mr Aburizal Bakrie has been able to enrich himself by forcing Australian mining company to sell their gigantic coal mine in Sangatta (East Kalimantan) by using similar tactics of strikes and sabotage.
    Secondly, the Papuan separatists did try to make some rioting to attract attention of world leaders who were in Indonesia for East Asia Summit. However, the Indonesian police has been remarkably composed in face of these provocations. The perpetrators of rioting are now safely behind bars, and not a single foreign leader even took notice of the childish theatrics of the Papuan separatists.
    In short, it seems Freeport would need to reduce its net profit and surrender larger portions of its revenue to remain within Indonesia. Not bad, it is about time for Indonesia to grab larger share of Freeport’s revenues.
  3. 3
    Posted November 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink
    While Indonesia’s conflict resolution record is not impeccable, there has been a relative success story in relation to the special autonomy region of Aceh and has resulted in a large reduction of violent conflict in that region. The implementation of the special autonomy arrangements between Aceh and Papua has some differences though, such as the central government permitting Aceh to keep a sizable amount of it’s resources, granting Aceh’s own law system (sharia), and the pull out of a large majority of the Indonesian Military that were posted there.
    I do not believe that this has occurred in West Papua yet and maybe a special autonomy resolution that involves some of these circumstances might help reduce the debilitating conflict that has occurred in the area for some years. Perhaps upon this stepping stone of special autonomy, which would hopefully include a wealthier, more educated and more empowered West Papuan society, the eventual and hopefully peaceful transition to independence could occur. Alas, the transmigration program, originally implemented by the dutch colonial government and continued by subsequent Indonesian governments, might hinder a future independence movement and seemingly complicates the matter even further.
    Perhaps the Australian government should start off with baby steps in the direction of independence by pushing for greater autonomy, and the cessation of the transmigration program with the eventual goal of independence that might result in less blood shed over a longer, maybe more realistic timescale? at the moment the Indonesian government seemingly has no intention to let Papua have it’s independence, perhaps this could change in the future with a sway of Indonesian public opinion? It seems that in periods of great social revolution the local populace, and neighboring countries seem to bear the social and economic costs such as was the case with East Timor where Australia still has a military presence after 10+ years.
    forgive the rambling incoherent nature of this blurb I just though I might add some info to the discussion. I am in no way an expert on Aceh or Papua, just an interested Australian.
  4. 4
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
    Thanks for the comments Danartu. I thinks its great to have a discussion with an Indonesian on this subject and to have your (nationalistic) perspective voiced.
    Perhaps you may believe that Papua belongs to Indonesia for time immemorial, but but others have a different perspective and believe that the original inhabitants of West New Guinea have only ever wanted independence from colonial powers be it Dutch or Indonesian. here is a few things to remember when thinking about “racially intolerant” Papuans who might be a little pissed off at military/transmigrants entering what they think is there country… the so called plebiscite in 196something was fully engineered by the Indonesian government and ended up with roughly 1000 key Papuan individuals voting to remain part of Indonesia. Hardly a plebiscite if you ask me. Not to mention USA support for the assimilation of Papua into Indonesia because of the fear of Indonesia turning into a communist nation which was never realized as the communist party was destroyed in 1965, and many ethnic Chinese in the process by intolerant ethnic Indonesians (using ur logic).
    In response to your second claim that the transmigration is not a government funded program, could you please read the governments agenda on their official website. I suppose you can speak and understand bahasa indonesian? Maybe you would like to go to the Government Website of Manpower and TRANSMIGRATION (http://bto.depnakertrans.go.id/tentang/sejarah.php) and read the History of the Transmigration program (Transmigrasi sejarah) and also the description in registering for the website in order to TRANSMIGRATE under government FACILITATION. And have a look at the different aide and support that is given citizens wishing to transmigrate.
    Again, a few random incoherent comments, but hey this is a blog. i can’t be bothered to reply in essay form. but seriously to just dismiss Papuans aspirations for independence as primitive tribalism of a stone aged society, and to try and obscure an inherently damaging government policy of transmigration as ordinary indonesians just trying to get along in the world is really just… well bullshit.
  5. 5
    Jason Macleod
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
    Great to see the discussion.
    In regards to the Freeport strike. Danuarto is correct, the strike leader is indeed a Javanese man by the name of Sudiro. However, the bulk of the workforce on strike are Papuans and three-quarters of the “foremen” are Papuans. The point about the local and central government deserving a greater share of the profits from Freeport remains.
    The comments about the Indonesian government not tolerating separatism misses the point. There are a whole range of things the Indonesian (and foreign governments) can do to address the root political causes of the conflict within the framework of the Indonesian state. That includes allowing free speech, releasing political prisoners and beginning a dialogue process.
    As for the Papuans rioting on October 19, you’ve got to be kidding?! The Papuans held a nonviolent political rally and the Indonesian police opened fire after it had finished – while people were still singing and dancing. The police and military shot dead three and fatally stabbed two others. Now the organisers are in jail while those members of the security forces who killed the Papuans get a written warning.
    Is it any surprise the Papuans want freedom?
  6. 6
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
    Godwins law must be right…
  7. 7
    Danuarta Roger
    Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink
    So, you admitted that you are wrong to connect the recent strikes with “separatism”. Instead, the strike is an effort led by a Javanese who are very successfully leading a majority ethnic-Papuan workforce is getting Freeport to sacrifice its fat profit margin and leaving a larger bulk of its revenuew within Indonesia.
    In terms of “dialogue”, Indonesian govt is always open for discussion but will never budge one inch regarding the final and internationally-acknowledged integration of Papua within Indonesian Republic. We just treat such “demands” as joke, just as if some Aborigines demand whites to start “dialogue” whereby the topic is demanding whites to leave Australia. Indonesian govt will only entertain reasonable dialogue and will never submit to intimidation, violence, or extremist demands from “separatists”.
    In terms of “peaceful” demonstration, are you being fed another dose of fairy-tale myths by separatists? I guess you would describe the 2006 rioting whereby a violent mob beat unarmed policeman and some non-Papuan civilians as “non-violent”. We Indonesians are not gullible donkeys that just accept the childish lies of separatist propaganda. No wonder these dumb separatists never accomplish anything for all their “efforts” for the past 50 years. LOL
  8. 8
    Jason Macleod
    Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
    Not so Danuarta. The Freeport strike may be lead by a Javanese but many of the leadership are also Papuans, that includes 3/4 of the nearly 300 section leaders. Moreover, leaders from the seven tribes and their communities also support the strike. The strike may be about higher wages and better conditions but issues of economic injustice need to be seen in the context of wider grievances. The issues of economic justice and freedom are separate but they are also connected. Just ask any Papuan.
    Now to the Papuan Congress.
    Yes it was peaceful. 100% so – on the Papuans side, at least. It was the Indonesian police and military who shot and stabbed people to death.
    And many Indonesians, including politicians, are outraged at security forced violence.
    Violence needs to be condemned – whoever perpetrates it. I say the same thing about 2006.
    You seem like an Indonesian nationalist. Nothing wrong with that. And i hear your anger. Nothing wrong with strong views either, although your comments about “dumb” and “stone age” Papuans are inflammatory. They discredit your arguments and are offensive.
    It also sounds like you condone security forces killing Papuans nonviolently exercising their right to free speech? Is this the kind of Indonesia you really want?
    It is these views and unwillingness by Indonesians to sit down and talk about the root causes that is driving so called separatism in Papua.
    In that respect you are supporting the independence cause. Ironic really.
  9. 9
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink
    @Danuarta I don’t think you are adding much to this discussion by referring to groups and people in derogatory terms.
    Refer to the blog’s “moderation guidelines“.
    NAJ Taylor

Kamis, 08 Desember 2011

International Community Celebrating Human Rights Day 10 Desember 2011

Human Rights Watch - Tyranny Has a Witness

Dear Santon,

This Saturday, December 10, we join the international community in celebrating Human Rights Day.

Looking back on the year, Human Rights Watch accomplished so much, thanks to supporters like you. Here are the ways you helped us hold tyrants accountable and ensure the rule of law.

Middle East & North AfricaMiddle East & North Africa
During the Arab Spring, when Arab leaders attempted to minimize reports of violence and keep essential information from foreign journalists, Human Rights Watch researchers were on the scene, uncovering the truth of deaths and injuries during the demonstrations.

"As you know, journalists are banned and we are relying on reports from Human Rights Watch and other observers… we're very concerned about reports of security forces firing on peaceful protesters." –Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, on how the Obama administration gathered information during the Arab Spring.

Central AfricaCentral Africa
Over two decades, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) — a vicious Ugandan rebel group — has killed and abducted thousands of civilians in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, often targeting children and forcing them to become fighters.

Human Rights Watch pressed the US government to help the people of central Africa and bring the LRA's murderous leadership to justice. In October, the Obama administration said it would send 100 US military advisers to central Africa to assist the region's armies in combating the LRA, strengthening regional efforts to arrest the LRA's ruthless leader, Joseph Kony, and other top leaders.

On October 12, the Burmese government freed some 200 of its estimated 2,000 political prisoners. Human Rights Watch held high-level meetings with UN and government officials visiting Burma, arming them with the evidence they needed to press Burma into releasing those held behind bars. We helped keep these jailed activists — journalists, artists, opposition members, and Buddhist monks and nuns — on the international agenda with our report, Burma's Forgotten Prisoners.
We continue to push the Burmese government to free those political prisoners who remain locked up.

Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea
When Human Rights Watch exposed rapes and beatings by security personnel of the world's largest gold producer, Barrick Gold, the company chose to take swift action. Barrick Gold launched an internal investigation that confirmed our findings, and has promised to establish new, viable channels that people can use to complain about abuses without fear of retribution.

Papua New Guinea police forces are now in the midst of a comprehensive criminal investigation. Barrick has also committed to taking a broad range of measures to prevent abuses by security personnel at the mine in the future, including much tighter oversight and monitoring by senior officials.

As we look back on Human Rights Watch's impact in 2011, we also recognize the work that remains to protect people from human rights abuses — work that cannot be done without supporters like you, who allow us to remain ever vigilant and ever watchful.

As this year comes to a close, we are incredibly thankful to have such dedicated and staunch supporters. For all that you do, thank you for helping us change lives and ensure that tyranny has a witness.


Kenneth Roth
Executive Director

West Papua: We Don't Have The Gun but We Have the Truth

West Papua : We Don’t Have the Gun But We Have the Truth

Article – West Papua Media Alerts
Herman Wainggai is a West Papuan educator and organizer who has dedicated his life to his homeland’s self determination movement. In January 2006 Herman was granted political asylum in Australia after he and 42 other West Papuans escaped the island, …The Players
Herman Wainggai is a West Papuan educator and organizer who has dedicated his life to his homeland’s self determination movement. In January 2006 Herman was granted political asylum in Australia after he and 42 other West Papuans escaped the island, crossing the Arafura Sea in a traditional double-outrigger canoe. Since then he’s been able to take on a new role as an advocate for West Papuan liberation by raising international awareness of the struggle.
Once part of the Dutch East Indies, West Papua underwent a rapid decolonization process in which administrative control over the territory was handed to Indonesia in 1963 following one year of UN transitional rule. Interested in gaining control of West Papua’s rich natural resources, Indonesia’s formal acquisition of the territory was affirmed in 1969 after a manipulated election known as the Act of Free Choice.
Only a hand-selected and extremely frightened 0.01% of the population were allowed to vote in the referendum, after Indonesia waged a campaign of blatant intimidation, disappearances, arrests and killings. None of this was ever cited as cause to challenge the legitimacy of the Act of Free Choice, although the UN later acknowledged that an overwhelming majority of West Papuans were not in favor of becoming Indonesians. These events triggered a self-determination struggle in which Indonesian rule was initially challenged by a small, poorly equipped band of guerilla fighters.
Things started to change in the 1980s when leaders of the movement, one of them being Herman’s uncle Thomas Wainggai, started to adopt Gandhian nonviolence as the movement’s central strategy. The transition from guerrilla fighting to popular resistance democratized the struggle allowing students and everyday West Papuans to participate in it.
Although West Papuans from all walks of life became the movement’s new backbone, those who opposed Indonesia nonviolently still faced state-sanctioned imprisonment, torture, and killing when they tried to voice core grievances, including the social costs of environmentally destructive development projects, increased competition and conflict over land resources as the government promoted the migration of Indonesians to West Papua, and institutionalized racism in the economy, education and in government bureaucracy. The Tools and Tactics
Early in the interview Herman explains that the most significant force driving Indonesia’s domination of West Papua has always been the desire to profit from the territory’s natural resources. Jakarta has declared open season for international corporations eyeing those resources, in a land where laws protecting indigenous workers and their environment are virtually nonexistent. Like many other movements, the one for West Papuan self-determination is facing the headwind of a lucrative global commodities market driven by extractive industries and the states that facilitate them. Movement leaders such as Herman have had to devise clever strategies and tactics in order to overcome this tremendously challenging set of conditions.
Most recently, in July 2011, West Papuans organized a strike against one of the world’s largest mining companies, U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan. During the eight-day-long strike, roughly half of the workers laid down their tools at the world’s largest gold and copper mine causing the company to experience losses of roughly $95,000 per day. The strike ended when the company agreed to pay workers for their time spent striking and enter negotiations with union organizers demanding higher wages and humane working conditions. Negotiations were set to wrap up in late August 2011. Many West Papuans are hopeful that this round of negotiations will be as successful as they were in 2007 when workers secured a 98% pay increase following a similar series of events.
Aside from economic hardships, the movement is forced to operate under the constant threat of violence. West Papuans are trying to mute this violence by exposing it to the international community, although it has not been easy to get people outside of Oceania to pay attention to a struggle that they had never heard of. For example, only Australians and New Zealanders generally know that West Papuans are culturally and ethnically distinct from Javanese Indonesians.
The idea of cultural independence is tightly woven into the fabric of West Papuan resistance as it attempts to hold fast against Indonesia’s effort to absorb it. Cultural resisters often incorporate traditional chants, songs, symbols and dances into various acts of resistance as a means of building unity as well as expressing their distinctive identity. The most important symbol of West Papuan self-determination is the Morning Star flag. Raising or displaying the flag is considered to be an incendiary act of political defiance, and until recently, anyone caught doing so was arrested by Indonesian forces.
In the film Struggle in Paradise, Herman travels to the Melbourne Arts Center in Australia with a group of West Papuans who performed traditional songs and dances. In the interview, Herman mentions anthropologist and musician Arnold Ap as one of the actors that guided the struggle from a guerrilla insurgency to a popular movement. During the 1970s and 1980s Ap, along with his music group Mambesak, were some of the first showcase elements of West Papuan culture in defiance of Indonesian rule. Before his assassination in 1984, he was successful in establishing a sense of cultural identity in a time when even identifying as Melanesian or West Papuan was an act of subversion.
The Indonesian government remains very restrictive in allowing foreign media, NGOs, or diplomats to enter West Papua. This, along with the island’s geographic isolation, presents significant challenges to anyone intent on getting information in and out of the territory. Like Herman’s voyage in 2005, someone seeking to share information with the outside world had to take great risks, often having to leave secretly on small boats. But now, as technology such as the internet, camera phones, and social media have begun to reach even the world’s most remote populations, these barriers are being breached.
In 2010 a graphic video of Indonesian soldiers torturing an unarmed West Papuan man sparked international outrage after it appeared on YouTube. Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups caught wind of the story and urged that the soldiers be tried for torture. Despite its brutality, the video was a small victory for the movement because it presented evidence forcing Indonesia to acknowledge its military abuses in the region. As a political refugee now in the West, Herman functions as an outlet for such stories as well as someone with the capacity to share them with a wider international audience.
He is currently working out of Washington, D.C. where he can focus on his advocacy work by lobbying the U.S. government and U.S. outlets of international organizations. By doing this Herman is tackling one of the movement’s most important challenges: raising international awareness. The practical benefits of which could extend to freeing political prisoners, exposing human rights abuses, economic injustice, and cultural marginalization of the West Papuan people.
The Stumbling Blocks
Herman faces the challenge of educating not only the outside world but various audiences within West Papua as well. As an organizer, Herman understands that the capacity for a movement or campaign to educate its own participants is critical to achieving success, and as an educator he understands that the skills needed to overcome West Papua’s various problems need to be widely distributed amongst its population. It is very challenging for people like Herman to teach nonviolent resistance strategies within West Papua. Aside from the Indonesian government, those attempting to spread knowledge have to make long journeys to remote areas in a land with little infrastructure.
While living in Australia, Herman was able to travel to Papua New Guinea where he conducted civil resistance workshops for West Papuan activists willing make the extremely dangerous boat trip from West Papuan waters controlled by the Indonesian navy to the shores of Papua New Guinea. These trips also allowed Herman to hear the latest news from the front lines of the struggle. Many activists and organizers brought news of unrelenting repression, imprisonment and torture; some tell their stories in a short Youtube video called Struggle in Paradise. (LINK) The film features Herman along with a number of other activists discussing the various obstacles and how their hardships have driven some to lose hope and flee the island.
Since his days as a student activist, Herman has been arrested and jailed several times, once for two years. In the interview he describes the experience of being imprisoned for fundraising and organizing a student protest.
“They said, ‘Herman, this is your room you can stay here,’ but the place I stayed in was full of fresh blood on the walls and I was surprised because the next day when I asked someone why this room was full of blood they told me the other day the Indonesian army just killed one West Papuan student activist in the room.”
Herman is using new technologies, cultural resistance, training and advocacy to undermine the Indonesian government’s efforts to keep curious global eyes away from West Papua, but as with any case of injustice, international awareness is only aspect one piece of the effort to instigate action.
In 2001 a Special Autonomy package was designed to re-route tax revenue generated by West Papuan development projects from Jakarta into West Papua’s provincial government. In theory this package was supposed to help West Papuans achieve a higher level of freedom and economic benefits while remaining part of Indonesia. But in reality the province lacks the capacity to marshal West Papuan representation and the bureaucratic infrastructure to redistribute the revenue appropriately. Special Autonomy did open up some political space; for example, raising the Morning Star flag is no longer illegal but is still considered to be politically subversive. Today some West Papuans have been able to take part in the provincial government but have still been unable to address many of the population’s core grievances. Because of this, many West Papuans still believe that civil resistance continues to be the most viable option. Despite all the hardships Herman has endured, and all the difficulties he continues to face, he pursues the mission of his people with passion, optimism, and affability. Herman says “The West Papuan people, we don’t have guns but we have the truth, something that the Indonesian government can’t take away from us.”
In this case, Herman’s work as an educator suggests that the most critical factor in this struggle has been and remains the movement’s capacity to educate its people about their opportunity to engage in a worthwhile struggle on their own behalf, distributing the skills needed for effective civil resistance while also raising international awareness.
Herman Wainggai
West Papuan Independence Advocate
Washington DC, USA


'Pro M' Aspirations Are Guaranteed Under The Law

Bintang Papua, 7 December 2011
Police Chief: But Violations Will Be Dealt With
Jayapura: Activities that are conducted by people, such as freedom of assembly and the expression of opinion or aspirations such as pro-independence for West Papua ('M') which are being promoted by some West Papuan people are guaranteed under the law, said the Chief of Police Police-General Drs Timur Pradopo, speaking after participating in a dialogue with stakeholders about accelerating development in West Papua at the office of the governor of Papua.
He went on to say that if this freedom of assembly and talking about independence aspirations are done in ways that violate the law, it is the responsibility of the police to enforce the law. Nevertheless, before the law is enforced, certain steps need to be taken. If, for example, the persons who assemble wish to present their views, it is up to the police at the local level (Polsek) or the regional level (Polres) backed by the regional police chief, along with the rest of society and religious leaders, to take action for their protection but they should not act in violation of the law.
'This is what is always done by police officers in Papua (Polda, Pelres, Polsek), so as to safeguard the activities of each side.'
He said any violation of the law will be dealt with by the police. And furthermore, action will be taken against police officers who violate the law, such as maltreating people in the community.
He went on to say that if anyone feels that they have been harmed by the presence of the police, this should immediately be reported, along with facts and data, and there will be a response from Polsek, Polres or Polda or even the chief of police (Kapolri) will deal with the matter when the law has been violated.
'No one is immune, including police officers.'
Asked whether there could be an increase in the number of police, taking into account the current security situation in Papua, the police chief said that there is no plan in the coming days for the number of police to be increased But what is being done is enforcement of the law.
'It is the task of the police to preserve a situation of security in Papua and this should be done in a proper way in order to ensure that the plans for development and activities by the people can proceed smoothly.
[COMMENT: A shift towards greater leniency seems to be in the air]
[Translated by TAPOL]

Rabu, 07 Desember 2011

Free Imprisoned Indonesian Activist, Amnesty International Says

Free Imprisoned Indonesian Activists, Amnesty Says
Jakarta Globe | December 07, 2011

Representatives from Amnesty International met with the coordinating minister for legal, political and security affairs on Tuesday, urging him to free political prisoners incarcerated for peacefully expressing their views.

At least 90 people are in prison in Papua and Maluku for peaceful pro-independence activities, including Filep Karma, a Papuan independence leader currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura, Papua. Filep’s case has received special attention by the human rights group.

“The Indonesian government should free all those who are detained in Papua and Maluku for peacefully expressing their views, including through raising or waving the prohibited pro-independence flags, and distinguish between peaceful and violent political activists,” Amnesty said in a statement.

On Dec. 1, 2004, Filep organized a peaceful demonstration in Abepura in which the banned Morning Star flag was raised. Filep was subsequently sentenced in May 2005 for treason and stoking unrest.

Washington-based Freedom Now said Filep, 51, would become one of 13 political prisoners around the world for whom it was currently campaigning, joining the likes of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. The organization is also known for having worked for the release of now-free Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amnesty said the government had the duty and the right to maintain public order, but in some cases the restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently initiated discussions with Papuan activists and established a special task force to enhance economic development in Papua.

Papua and its neighboring province, West Papua, have enjoyed more economic independence under the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, but the absence of implementing regulations have been blamed for rampant corruption and widespread poverty.

Amnesty said it supported Indonesia’s efforts to implement special autonomy but stressed the need to set up a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate cases of human rights violations that had gone on since Indonesia annexed Papua in the 1960s.

The minister, Djoko Suyanto, has expressed the government’s commitment to ensure accountability for human rights abuses committed by security forces.

However, Amnesty criticized the use of lenient administrative penalties and closed-door trials in response to rights violations involving members of the security forces.

This year, security forces have been criticized for using excessive force during the disbanding of the Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura on Oct. 19.

The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said at least six congress participants died during the brutal crackdown and hundreds more were injured or subject to degrading treatment.

The National Police punished seven officers with between seven to 14 days detention and reprimanded 10 others.

Amnesty called on the minister to allow international observers, nongovernmental organizations and journalists unrestricted and ongoing access to the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Selasa, 06 Desember 2011


West Papuan defiance tips political scale against Indonesian control

Maire Leadbeater
Indonesia Human Rights Committee spokesperson Maire Leadbeater raises the banned Morning Star flag in Auckland in solidarity with West Papuan independence. Photo: Scoop / IHRC
Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Alex Rayfield of New Matilda
The raising of the banned Morning Star flag across West Papua last week on December 1 made two things abundantly clear – political defiance in West Papua is growing and the Indonesian government is losing control.
Despite fears that they would be shot if they raised the flag, the Morning Star was raised in Jayapura, Sentani, Manokwari, Sorong, Merauke, Timika, Puncak Jaya, Paniai, Genyem, Wamena and inside Indonesia in Jogjakarta and Jakarta.
In many places, the security forces allowed the protests to continue — video footage shows Indonesian police driving as crowds of protesters wave the flag and shout “freedom” — but in Timika the Indonesian military did open fire on unarmed crowds.
Four people were wounded (two men and two women). Two of the victims are in critical condition in hospital.
In another part of the country a Papuan shot an Indonesian policeman with a bow and arrow.
In Puncak Jaya and Paniai in the remote highlands the two Papuan Liberation Army commanders engaged the Indonesian military and police in fire fights, killing two members of the Indonesian Paramilitary Police (Brimob) in Puncak Jaya and sabotaging bridges and burning government posts in Paniai.
However, most other December 1 rallies were peaceful. Members of the West Papua National Committee, Papuan Peace Network and Congress members marched together holding banners like “Stop committing human rights violations in Papua”, “Independence yes, NKRI no” (NKRI stands for the Unitary Republic of Indonesia) and “Federal republic West Papua”.
Fatal shootings
At many of the demonstrations, the Declaration of Independence was read again — this is the same statement that precipitated fatal shooting by police and military last month when it was read out at the Third Papuan People’s Congress.
The killing of peaceful Papuan protesters at the Congress last month — relayed by phone, Facebook, YouTube and mailing lists — has outraged Papuans, leading more to support independence. It has divided political elites inside Indonesia, attracted more third party support for the West Papuan cause, and revealed the ugly face of Indonesian colonial rule in West Papua.
It has widened the circle of dissent and tipped the political scale in the Papuans’ favour.
In Sorong, for example, even Papuan government civil servants and the retired military members joined the December 1 rally, prompting one local organiser to remark that “this really different from previously which always attended by the community”.
The Indonesian government may still have a ban on foreign media in West Papua but when people can send SMS news reports in seconds and photos and film in a matter of hours, a ban on media also loses its impact.
As one of the key local organisers for West Papua Media told New Matilda: “The media network across Papua is like a spider web. Now when there is an incident we can quickly get reports across the country and out to the world.
“The mainstream media in Papua is owned by Indonesians. They publish things that terrify the Papuan community,” the same source said.
Independent media
“So our most powerful weapon has become our independent media network.”
Technically, of course, the Indonesian government is still in control. Jakarta still makes the political decisions and the police and security forces have the capability and personnel to crush any rebellion — armed or nonviolent. But they have lost moral authority.
Papuans are no longer willing to go along with the status quo. The mood is angry, defiant and uncooperative.
Senior tribal elders and young people who were shot at last month have decided not to give in to fear. Instead, they went back out onto the streets. A big contributor to this courage has been the leadership of the Congress leaders in prison.
In an exclusive interview with New Matilda last week, Forkorus Yaboisembut, the 72-year-old President-elect of the ‘Federal Republic of West Papua’, encouraged Papuans to mark the day peacefully.
These recent events and the attention they received have created a dilemma for the Indonesian government. Essentially they now have two choices: more repression, or political dialogue. More repression will only increase support for independence and further erode Indonesia’s standing.
If the government does nothing or does not come up with a credible plan for political dialogue they can expect support for independence to grow. The Indonesian government recently announced they would fast track economic development in West Papua.
More political freedom
But this won’t cut it. The Papuans are asking for political freedom, not more money.
Papuans I spoke to want to be genuine participants in a political process, not objects of policy, and they have lost faith with their own political class who are increasingly viewed as corrupt and unwilling to stand up to Jakarta.
They are disgusted that police who shoot dead unarmed Papuans and beat tribal elders receive only a warning.
As Papuans return to their homes after December 1 many fear that the Indonesian police and military will return to the practice of targeted repression and that organisers and participants will be hunted down, one by one, community by community.
West Papua may not be free, but Indonesia lost the loyalty of Papuans a long time ago. Now, they are speaking out like never before.
Alex Rayfield is an independent freelance journalist writing for New Matilda in cooperation with West Papua Media.