Jumat, 18 Mei 2012

Oslo Journal Part V

Oslo Journal, Part V
Impromptus by Jay Nordlinger
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Editor’s Note: The Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual human-rights conference, took place last week, in the Norwegian capital. The previous parts of Jay Nordlinger’s journal are at the following links: IIIIII, and IV.
The most fantastically dressed person here is Benny Wenda, a West Papuan tribal leader — feathery headdress and all. He escaped his homeland while on trial. He was granted asylum in the U.K., where he founded the Free West Papua Campaign.
West Papua is under the heel of the Indonesians. The struggle of this place, so little known in the world, reminds me of the struggle of East Timor — two of whose leaders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. East Timor subsequently won its independence from Indonesia.
Here in the Christiania Theatre, Wenda says, “Colonialism is supposed to be dead. Slavery is supposed to be dead. But both are alive and well in my country.”
As a child, Wenda saw terrible, terrible things: Most of his family was killed. He remembers his mother slapped and beaten, his aunts raped. He has dedicated himself to “raising my people’s voice.”
Toward the end of his talk, he brings out the West Papuan flag — a “mono-star flag,” as he says. It is illegal where Indonesia has control. He says, “I don’t think the Norwegian police will come arrest me.”
He vows, “I will never be silent until my people are free. Then I’ll give up. I want to see my people smile — like other people, who have freedom.” He says that “there are people in my homeland, many of them elders, who are hiding in the jungle. I want to have a reunion with them. I want to see them smile, while we have tea.”

It’s hard to imagine that West Papua will ever be first on a human-rights agenda. They are remote, easily overlooked. But they are not remote to themselves, are they? No one is.
“Good day, friends of freedom.” That’s what Jestina Mukoko says as she takes the podium. She is from Zimbabwe, and she directs an organization called the Zimbabwe Peace Project. What they do is document the human-rights abuses of the Mugabe regime. Mukoko herself has suffered those abuses.
They came and got her in the middle of the night, as I understand it. “I was in my nightclothes. Barefoot. I did not have my prescription glasses.” It’s the little details that seem to get to you: a woman not having her prescription glasses.
Her testimony is unbearable, of course. They tortured her. They got drunk on beer as they did so. They were bragging that they had been given an important assignment — that’s why the boss had given them money to buy beer.
When I see Jestina Mukoko at the podium, and later in other places, I feel I am looking at a woman made of iron.
What are we to think of Singapore? I have long been “conflicted,” to use the modern word. (Ugh.) On one hand, Singapore is a shining example of economic freedom — a beacon unto the world, you could almost say. On the other hand, it’s not quite free, is it?
Speaking to us by video is Chee Soon Juan, leader of the Singapore Democratic Party. According to his bio, he has “been arrested and jailed more than a dozen times for his political activities, primarily for repeatedly challenging Singapore’s laws that require protest organizers to obtain a police permit before staging political demonstrations or making speeches on political issues.”
As a critic of the ruling party, Chee has been sued for defamation, “on multiple occasions” (as his bio says). A court ordered him to pay more than $1 million in damages. Unable to do so, Chee declared bankruptcy. One consequence is that he is forbidden to stand for election or to travel out of the country.
I’m going to have more to say about Singapore in a future piece for National Review. But I can tell you this right now: I completely agree with Chee when he says, “Democracy is not a Western concept” but “a human concept

Rabu, 16 Mei 2012

Shot five Civilians by Police Brimobin Paniai-PAPUA

Update: One Dead, Four ‘Critically-Injured’ in Paniai Papua After Brawl with Brimob
 May 16, 2012
Police from the mobile brigade unit (Brimob) reportedly shot five civilians in Paniai, Papua on Tuesday evening — one victim is dead and four are said to be critically injured. 

The shooting took place during a brawl between the five men and three Brimob officers at a billiard-hall near a traditional gold mining site in Nomowodide village, Paniai.

The civilians include Melianus Kegepe, who has died, Lukas Kegepe, Amos Kegepe and Alpius Kegepe. The fifth man has yet to be identified.

Paniai Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Anton Diance said the victims were in critical condition and would be flown to the neighboring district of Nabire.

“We’re awaiting the plane to evacuate the critically-injured victims to a hospital in Nabire,” he said.

Anton made it clear the three Brimob officers — identified as First Brig. Ferianto Pala, Second Brig. Agus and Second Brig. Edi — were responsible for the shooting, saying the officers were forced to retaliate when the men attacked them.

Anton explained that the incident began when the five civilians arrived at the billiard-hall owned by a local resident. All the tables were occupied, but the five men reportedly forced their way onto a table while yelling and threatening the owner, who then reported them to officers at a nearby Brimob post. The officers arrived shortly after. 

“But, suddenly one of them hit Ferianto very hard with a billiard que, causing the officer to fall — then the five tried to grab his weapon,” Anton said. Second Brig. Edi shot one of the men, when another man pulled out a knife. Edi fired another shot, according to Anton.  

“It became chaotic then," Anton said."We suspect that this incident was planned, to provoke the officers. We’ve instructed our officers around the location to control their emotions, and to not easily fire their weapons.” he added.


Group Struggle Justice in West Papua

Selasa, 15 Mei 2012

Indonesia: Rights Record Under Scrutiny at UN

Indonesia: Rights Record under Scrutiny at UN

15 May 2012 08:00
Source: Content Partner // Human Rights Watch
United Nations member states should urge Indonesia to adopt specific measures to ensure religious freedom, free expression, and accountability for abuses at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Indonesia at the UN Human Rights Council on May 23, 2012.
(Jakarta) - United Nations member states should urge Indonesia to adopt specific measures to ensure religious freedom, free expression, and accountability for abuses at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Indonesia at the UN Human Rights Council on May 23, 2012, Human Rights Watch and KontraS (the Commission for "The Disappeared" and Victims of Violence) said today.

The UPR, through which each UN member country is examined once every four years, will allow governments to review Indonesia's human rights record and make recommendations for improvements.

"Countries should be asking Indonesia hard questions about why over the past four years violence and discrimination against religious minorities is getting worse, and why Indonesia continues to imprison peaceful activists," saidElaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The UPR should put Indonesia on the spot to adopt specific reforms rather than dancing around the issues."

The Indonesian government's report to the UN submitted for the UPR claims that numerous concrete steps have been taken to put into effect seven recommendations that Indonesia accepted from its last UPR review in 2008. These recommendations were to develop human rights education and training, sign and ratify various human rights instruments, support and protect the work of civil society, combat impunity by security forces, revise the Penal Code, and develop systems to improve and share best practices to support human rights. However the government's report only paints a partial picture of the serious challenges that remain, especially regarding religious freedom, free expression, and accountability for serious abuses committed by security forces, Human Rights Watch and KontraS said.
Religious Freedom
On religious freedom, the Indonesian government report acknowledges issues concerning protection of the Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslim but whom some Muslims consider heretics, as well as disputes regarding building places of worship, and problems some groups face in practicing their religion. The report asserts that the "government tirelessly promotes religious tolerance and harmony," and that the blasphemy law and a 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree on Ahmadiyah "regulates the proselytization of the Ahmadis as well as the call for all people to forbid resort of violence against certain religious groups."
However, in reality, over the past four years violence against religious minorities, especially the Ahmadiyah, has dramatically increased. According to the Setara Institute, which monitors religious freedom, religious attacks have increased from 135 in 2007, to 216 in 2010, and 244 in 2011. Indonesian authorities have consistently failed to adequately address increasing incidents of mob violence directed by militant Islamist groups against religious minorities in Java and Sumatra, including against the Ahmadiyah, Bahai, Christians, Shia Muslims, and smaller spiritual movements. In the worst attack, Islamist militants killed three Ahmadiyah in Banten province, western Java in February 2011, and the attackers who were prosecuted served at most six months in prison.
While the 2008 Ahmadi decree does not expressly forbid worship, local decrees enacted following the national decree go further in banning Ahmadiyah worship. Approximately 30 Ahmadi mosques have been closed by the authorities. Human Rights Watch and KontraS urged other countries to call on Indonesia to lift various decrees, including the 2008 anti-Ahmadiyah decree, that limit religious freedom.
The Indonesian government report also defended the 2006 ministerial regulation on "maintaining religious harmony" in building houses of worship, saying that it is "adequate." But pressures from Islamist militants, emboldened by the 2006 decree, have led local authorities to close more than 400 Christian churches in Muslim-majority areas according to the Indonesian Communion of Churches. Even in cases in which Christian churches have successfully sought court orders to permit them to open, such as in the case of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor and HKBP Filadelfia church in Bekasi, local authorities have refused to carry out the court's rulings, and the national government has failed to intervene.
"The Indonesian government claims it is protecting religious harmony, but countries shouldn't be fooled when Christians and Ahmadis are under pressure every day to close their places of worship," said Haris Azhar, the coordinator of KontraS. "Revoking discriminatory laws and upholding basic rights would be the best way of ensuring religious harmony."
Freedom of Expression
Human Rights Watch and KontraS urged other countries to call for the release of all political prisoners in Indonesia, and lift restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. Nearly 100 activists from the Moluccas and Papua are imprisoned for "treason" for peacefully voicing political views, holding demonstrations, and raising separatist flags.
The prisoners include a Papuan former civil servant, Filep Karma, serving a 15-year term in Abepura prison, and Ruben Saiya, serving 20 years in Nusa Kambangan Island prison. In November 2011 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion saying the Indonesian government is violating international law by detaining Karma and called for his immediate release.
The Indonesian government report does not address these issues, stating only, "The right to freedom of opinion and expression are guaranteed by the Constitution and national laws." However, various laws are on the books continue to be enforced that criminalize the peaceful expression of political, religious, and other views. Offenses in Indonesia's criminal code such as treason (makar) and "inciting hatred" (haatzai artikelen) have been used repeatedly against peaceful political activists.
The government report claims that the "media environment in Indonesia continues to be one of the most vibrant and open in the region. … Freedom of expression and opinion is further promoted, including through the Internet." However, the 2008 Information and Electronics Transactions Law punishes defamation sent over the internet with up to six years in prison. For instance, Alexander An, a civil servant alleged to be an atheist, is on trial at the Sijunjung district court, West Sumatra, under this law as well as for blasphemy for several posts from his Facebook account.
Police have also given in to Islamist militants who try to block public events they consider to be immoral. On May 4, Irshad Manji, a Canadian Muslim and lesbian, released the Indonesian version of her book, Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom, at a Jakarta theater. But Jakarta police interrupted the event, saying that the organizers had no police permit to have "a foreigner speaking." The next day, pressures from the militant Islam Defenders Front forced the Alliance of Independent Journalists to end Manji's book talk prematurely.  
"Jailing people for peaceful flag-raisings or posting on Facebook makes a mockery of Indonesia's claim that it respects free expression," Pearson said. "Authorities are too willing to use the excuse of public order to shut down debate over sensitive topics."
Accountability for Security Forces
On addressing impunity for members of the security forces, the government report states that in 2010 and 2011, military courts tried more than 1,500 criminal cases against military personnel, including for human rights violations.  This includes the "YouTube case," in which several soldiers were videoed committing torture against civilians.
Human Rights Watch and KontraS have long raised concerns about Indonesia's military justice process being opaque and that serious abuses such as torture and extrajudicial killings are not recognized in the military code, and are instead charged as disciplinary offenses. The government's reference to the YouTube video refers to several soldiers who tortured two Papuan farmers, including holding a burning stick to one man's genitals. Following posting of the video and international outcry, a military tribunal in January 2011 convicted three soldiers from Battalion 753 solely on disciplinary charges and sentenced them to between eight and ten months in prison. The soldiers still serve in the army.
To alleviate problems with military justice, Parliament in 2000 passed a resolution that military personnel should be tried in civilian courts for violations of the civilian criminal code. This requirement was included in article 65(2) of Law 34 of 2004 on the Indonesian Armed Forces ("the TNI Law"). However, for the legislation to be carried out, Law 31 of 1997 on Military Courts also needs to be amended. This has not taken place.
There has been no progress in reopening an investigation into the 2004 murder of Munir bin Thalib, a leading human rights lawyer. A special National Human Rights Commission team examined the conduct of police, prosecutors and judges in conducting the 2008 trial of a senior security official acquitted of Munir's killing. In February 2010 the team found that all three institutions had performed their tasks poorly and recommended renewed efforts to establish responsibility for the murder.
"The Indonesian government cannot claim military trials are a success when convicted torturers are slapped on the wrist and continue to serve in the military," Azhar said. "The government claims that they respect human rights but they ignore harassment and killing of human rights defenders, and let Munir's murder go unpunished. Sadly, the government isn't telling the truth."

Papuans Protest Against Indonesian Military Aircraft in Vanuatu

Papuans protest against Indonesian military aircraft in Vanuatu

Updated 15 May 2012, 17:18 AEST
A group of West Papua independence activists are staging a demonstration at the main airport in Vanuatu against a visiting Indonesian military aircraft.
The aircraft is in Port Vila to deliver a consignment of military equipment for the Vanuatu police force under and arrangement made 2 years ago.
Vanuatu also hosts an office of the West Papuan freedom movement which has been struggling for independence from Indonesian rule.
Presenter: Sam Seke
Speaker: Arthur Coulton, Vanuatu's deputy police commissioner
COULTON: I have to say I received that information from our surveillance officers at the airport that they are picketing. I'm not sure whether it is organised or not but there are people out there picketing outside the VIP lounge on the arrival of the Indonesian military airplane, which arrived just a while ago.
SEKE: And what's that Indonesian military aircraft doing there?
COULTON: It is delivering goods for the Vanuatu police force, goods and equipment for the Vanuatu police force, which was arranged through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I think that's the purpose of the military aircraft here in Port Vila. So it's delivering goods and logistics for the Vanuatu police force.
SEKE: So Vanuatu's got some sort of defence cooperation arrangement with Indonesia?
COULTON: No, there was an arrangement between the Vanuatu police force Police Commissioner way back in 2010 with the Indonesian authorities to supply items of police equipment. So I think that's the reason why the military aircraft is in Port Vila to deliver that logistic equipment.
SEKE: And who are these people picketing at the airport?
COULTON: I understand the people are from Irian Jaya, there are a couple of them in Port Vila, including their leader who has been living in Port Vila for quite a long time now, and I think they are the ones doing the picketing at the airport at the moment.
SEKE: And what about the locals, Ni-Vans, are they joining the demonstration as well?
COULTON: Well we have had a lot of support from the locals, many from Port Vila, but I'm not too sure whether the locals are with them as well, but I understand there are some people from Indonesia and other people at the airport at the moment.
SEKE: What's the demonstration like, is it peaceful or have there been disturbances?
COULTON: As far as I know with reports coming in right now the picketing has been very peaceful so far. But we cannot predict their next move up to this time.
SEKE: Do you know how long the aircraft is going to be in Port Vila?
COULTON: No I don't know how long it will be in Port Vila. I assume it will be here for the night and there will be people guarding the aircraft until tomorrow. But I'm not sure the exact period of the aircraft being in Port Vila.

Senin, 14 Mei 2012

From West Van to West Papua

From West Van to West Papua

The presence of the traveller, the suitcase wheeling, duffel-bag slung ferry rider is as much a part of the Horseshoe Bay landscape as Sewell's Marina or the wood-pannelled Boathouse restaurant at water's edge.
And, more often than not, it's island travel that brings traffic to the bay — Bowen Islanders heading to and from work or North Shore residents relocating to sunnier climes for the weekend. Rarely is it cyclists preparing for a three-and-a-half month, 5,000 kilometre fundriasing trek to Newfoundland.
Except for one day this week, that is. As the sun blanketed Bay Street and the patios filled Wednesday morning with coffee drinkers flipping through the morning paper, Bowen Island's Jeremy Bally looked east, way east, and pondered the long journey ahead.
"It is the call to adventure. But adventure can suck sometimes," says Bally, thoughtfully.
"It can be extraordinarily challenging. But that makes life worth it. And, a lot of work went into this, more than I ever anticipated. But when I finally got to this place and everything was organized I just said 'Hell yeah. I'm biking.'"
It all started about two-and-a-half years ago, when Bally was an undergraduate student at the University of Victoria. He had a friend approach him about joining her club, Rights and Democracy, and Bally took her up on it. Not the most engaged student at the time, Bally took the opportunity to learn more about human rights and social justice issues around the world. It was, as he calls it, the time when he "started caring and become part of a cooperative global community."
Through his membership in the club, Bally began learning about West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of the island of New Guinea. He explored the human rights injustices and subsequent rebellions of the West Papuan people against the Indonesian military and learned of the rich environmental aspect of the culture, as the area is home to the third largest rainforest in the world.
Then, he travelled to West Papua to meet and interview people on both the troubles they face and their hopes for the future.
"Some of the interview were amazing and some of them were horrifying. Some were first hand tales of torture," says Bally.
"But they have a determination for freedom and self determination."
From his experiences studying and visiting the country, Bally has cobbled together a multimedia performance that he is taking on the road with him as he rides cross-country to raise awareness and money for West Papua.
The performance comes in three parts: a movie with a hip hop piece written by Bally performed overtop, a storytelling portion where Bally recounts entries from his travel journal and a shadow puppet film with an audio recording of one of the interviews Bally conducted during his travels.
On the trip Bally says hopes to raise $18,000, which he will donate to West Papuan community leaders to pay for English classes. He expects to be reach St. John's, N.L. by late August.

Children Pray for Release of Forkorus and His Co-Defendants in Abepura-Papua

Children pray for release of Forkorus and his co-defendants

Press Release – West Papua Media Alerts
Dozens of children from the KINGMI Church in Waena held joint prayers on Wednesday this week, praying for the release of Forkorus Yaboisembut and his four colleagues.9 May 2012
Children pray for release of Forkorus and his co-defendants
Dozens of children from the KINGMI Church in Waena held joint prayers on Wednesday this week, praying for the release of Forkorus Yaboisembut and his four colleagues. They were intending to hold the joint prayers in the grounds of their school in Abepura but because the building was undergoing restoration, the prayers were said at the church.
JUBI journalist said that the children were very enthusiastic about the event and had made posters about the many social and political issues in Papua that have overwhelmed the Papuan people.
Adolof Tenouye, who led the prayers said that they were all very concerned about the numerous problems in Papua, such as human rights violations, as well as economic and cultural problems. They said prayers for the restoration of their country in the hope that it could emerge from its present problems
One of the banners which they unfurled said: ‘We love my father, the President of West Papua.’ As is known, Forkorus Yaboisembut is the president of the Federal Republic of West Papua which was proclaimed on 19 October 2011, at the end of the Papuan People’s Congress. Forkorus and his co-defendants were found guilty of treason and were convicted to three years each.
The other four men are: Edison Waromi, Selpius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabat and Agust Makbrawen who are all in custody in Abepura Prison.
Santon Tekege!!!!

Minggu, 13 Mei 2012


Amnesty International Honours Unique New Zealander
Sunday, 13 May 2012, 10:25 am
Press Release: Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
 Amnesty International Honours a Unique New Zealander with a Genuine Dedication to Social Justice Causes
Keith Locke was tonight announced as the recipient of Amnesty International Aotearoa’s Human Rights Defender Award.  
In a ceremony at the Human Rights Commission in Auckland the award was presented to the former Greens MP in recognition of a life dedicated to the promotion and protection of people’s human rights here in New Zealand and around the world. 
“When we at Amnesty speak to communities or people here in New Zealand who have also sought our advice and help, Keith’s name is often mentioned as someone who has unfailingly assisted them,” said Rebecca Emery, Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
“Keith is truly a unique New Zealander who comes from a family that has shown a genuine dedication to social justice causes through generations, and for this reason, it is a pleasure to close our 50th birthday year by honouring him as a true expression of what it means to be a Human Rights Defender.” 
"The award is emotional for me because it’s an award from my peers, said Keith.
"To me it's the highest award I've achieved in my life because it's from people I respect so much."
Keith acknowledged the other award nominees as they are all people he's worked alongside and has great respect for.
"I'm very humbled for receiving this award and it will be treasured," said Keith.
Keith Locke’s political journey has been a colourful one and he has been at the forefront of speaking up on numerous issues, which other MPs have shied away from, such as Tibet, East Timor, Sri Lanka, China and numerous  issues in the Middle East. 

Amnesty commended Keith for being a domestic watchdog in the areas of search and surveillance issues, anti terror and refugee issues, including his tireless campaigning for the rights of Ahmed Zaoui.
The high calibre and diverse range of nominations received this year is testament to the recognition that the defence of human rights in our part of the world is as crucial as it is to the rest of the world,” said Rebecca Emery.
The nominees for the 2012 Human Rights Defender Award included Journalist/War Correspondent,  JON STEPHENSON, Leader of Dewan Adat Papua (DAP) FORKORUS YABOISEMBUT, Former Chief Human Rights Commissioner in NZ, ROSSLYN NOONAN, Director/Producer/Co-Editor & Producer/Subject of the film Brother Number One, ANNIE GOLDSON & ROB HAMILL, Barrister & Founder of Slave Free Seas,CRAIG TUCK, Human Rights Advocate, MARIANNE ELLIOT, and Asylum Access Thailand, MICHAEL TIMMINS.
The judging panel for the Award included Dr Judy MacGregor of the Human Rights Commission, Meg Poutasi of Pacific Cooperation Foundation and Rebecca Emery, Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
"Human Rights Defenders are vital in the current New Zealand fabric, it is they who help keep the government honest and give others a voice,” said Dr Judy MacGregor.