Sabtu, 07 Juni 2014

WEST PAPUA: No-One's Colony

West Papua: no-one’s colony

West Papua: no-one’s colony
By Online Editor
5:13 pm GMT+12, 20/05/2014, Fiji
Commentary from the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)
West Papua, comprised of the provinces (Papua and Papua Barat) is the Indonesian government’s last remaining colony, situated on the western half of the island of New Guinea, adjacent to independent Papua New Guinea. Papuans want what all colonized people want: to be free – to be masters of their own destiny. More specifically, Papuans demand, as a matter of urgency, that West Papua be reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories in order to hasten their progress towards political self-determination.
Eligibility to be reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories
West Papua satisfies the criteria for being reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories set down in United Nations Resolution 1541 (XV). Specifically, West Papua is geographically separate from Indonesia. Papuans are culturally and ethnically distinct and they have had a different historical experience from Indonesians. The former colonial authority, the Netherlands, prior to the current colonial administration, the Unitary Republic of Indonesia taking control, established a national parliament – the Nieuw-Guinea Raad – paving the way for Papuans to progress towards self-rule. Sukarno, a former Indonesian president tacitly acknowledged West Papua’s sovereignty when he referred to West Papua as a Dutch ‘Puppet State’ prior to launching a military invasion.
West Papuans have a right to self-determination under international law set down in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1514 (XV), Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and more recently, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The need to reinstate West Papua on the list of non-self-governing territories is made more urgent by ongoing gross human rights violations and a failure of governance on the part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Human rights violations and state violence has been documented during recent United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of the Indonesian Government’s commitment to civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Civil and political human rights issues raised include included the freedom of expression, the human rights violations committed by the security forces, the problem of impunity, the repression of human rights defenders, and the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
Economic, social and cultural rights issues raised include lack of access to health care and education, the problem of land-grabbing, and the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. In addition concern was expressed about the Indonesian government’s delay in making specific arrangements to allow visits by UN special procedures and human rights experts. In regards to both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural right the United Nations Committee showed particular concern to the situation in Papua.
Political scientists Dr Jim Elmslie and Dr Camilla Webb-Gannon characterise Indonesian rule as presiding over slow-motion genocide. They conclude that there is evidence to show that the Indonesian state has engaged in intentional genocidal acts designed to “counter and eliminate Papuan attempts to create an independent state for their nation or enjoy political freedom on a par with other Indonesians.”
Taking the above facts into consideration, in a special report into decolonization in the Pacific Region adopted by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in their Twelfth session in May 2013, Valmaine Toki stated that “there are clear grounds for the General Assembly to support [West Papua’s] reinstatement on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories."
Toki listed three compelling reasons. “First, West Papua had satisfied the criteria set down in resolution 1541 (XV). Second, it had featured initially on the list. Third, the right of self-determination is articulated in article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” In light of gross human rights situation in West Papua Ms. Toki wrote that “urgency is recommended.” As a result the International Community has a Responsibility to Protect West Papuans by granting political self-determination as a remedy for the Indonesian Government’s failure to govern and adequately protect West Papuans.
Historical background
West Papuans formed their own parliament in 1961 but have never been permitted to govern. The Indonesian government claims sovereignty over West Papua was transferred from the Netherlands to the Unitary Republic of Indonesia by the United Nations as a result of the Act of Free Choice in 1969. That is not true. The Act of Free Choice was not free, fair or peaceful. Less than 0.01% of the population, just over 1000 people, participated in the Act of Free Choice and 100% of those that did were coerced to vote. Two in-depth academic studies – one by Professor Pieter Drooglever, the other by Dr. John Saltford – conclusively showed that the Act of Free Choice was fraudulent and backed up by extremely ruthless violence, including the willingness to bomb entire villages. Until Papuans have been given the right to decide their own political status, a right which is theirs under international law, Indonesia cannot claim to be a democracy. In the intervening five decades the political situation has not improved.
West Papuans are determined to be free
Desmond Tutu once said that “nothing can stop a people determined to be free.”
Papuans have not given up. Even more remarkably, the overwhelming majority have chosen to pursue their aspirations for freedom through a combination of unarmed civilian based resistance and diplomacy. Instead of ensuring West Papuans’ safety and security the Indonesian state is endangering their lives. West Papuans are driving the struggle; they are being killed, tortured, imprisoned and pushed to the margins of political and economic life but they are not backing down. However, they need their regional neighbours and other governments to stand with them so they can continue living in the land of their ancestors. Papuans want their country to be reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories and urge member countries of the Committee of 24 to take immediate action to support Papuan aspirations.


West Papua struggles for recognition, opens office in Australia

Monday, June 2, 2014
The first Free West Papua campaign office in Australia opened in April in Perth. Photo from
The first Free West Papua campaign office in Australia was opened in April in Perth, signalling the growing international campaign for West Papuan self-determination. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s, despite an ongoing struggle for independence.
Benny Wenda, a leader of Free West Papua living in exile, said he hoped the Australian government would withstand pressure from Indonesia over the office opening.
Wenda referred to the Indonesian reaction when the group opened an office in Britain. The Indonesian government responded by summoning the British ambassador in Jakarta to explain why they were not taking steps to shut the office.
There has been no diplomatic showdown between Australia and Indonesia over the new office so far, but a look at the attitudes of Australia’s leaders may indicate why.
When former foreign minister Bob Carr discussed the British campaign office with Indonesia’s foreign minister at the time, he was told that Indonesia would “prefer [Australia] not to allow an office to open”. In his memoir, Carr writes that West Papua activists are “provocateurs who encourage Papuans to put their lives on the line”.
During a visit to Indonesia in October, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “And people seeking to grandstand against Indonesia, please, don't look to do it in Australia. You are not welcome.”
Despite these remarks, polls have shown that more than 75% of Australians support West Papuan self-determination.
But West Papua is facing difficulties in gaining recognition in the region. Over May 23-25, a seminar of the United Nations Special Committee On Decolonisation was held in Nadi, Fiji.
West Papua is not on the UN's Non-Self Governing Territory List and is therefore left out of official discussions. West Papua was removed from the list in 1963, after the UN took over management of the colony from the Netherlands and handed administration to Indonesia.
The Pacific Conference of Churches and the Pacific Regional Non Governmental Organisations Alliance called forWest Papua’s reinstatement to the list. A PCC statement said: “For the freedom of our brothers and sisters in Guam, Kanaky/New Caledonia, Maohi Nui/French Polynesia, Tokelau, West Papua to chart their own political future, we call on our Pacific peoples in all walks of life to stand up, speak out and be actively be engaged in their struggle.”
PCC desk officer Peter Emberson said: “We recognise that this might be a difficult position for some governments to take but the Pacific people must be treated with justice.”
Emberson may have been referring to the less than principled stance of countries like Fiji. At the seminar, Fiji's PM Frank Bainimarama reaffirmed his country's support for Kanaky (New Caledonia).
PCC general secretary Reverend Francois Pihaatae said: “However, we note with concern the silence of regional governments ― including Fiji ― on the issue of decolonization and self-determination for Pacific peoples still under colonial rule.
“Whilst we applaud the explicit support for Kanaky’s self-determination, we call on all Pacific governments, in particular Fiji and Papua New Guinea ... to take a similar position on other non-self-governing Pacific territories, especially American Samoa, Guam, Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), West Papua, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) amongst others and to do so consistently.”
Fiji, and some other Pacific countries, have shown a willingness to engage with Indonesia while ignoring West Papua's struggle. This was especially clear when the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) visited West Papua in January to investigate West Papua's conditions and consider its representation in the group.
However, delegates spent barely a day in West Papua and did not meet any West Papuan civil society representatives. They then went to Jakarta to talk about trade and relations with Indonesia, issuing a statement saying: “We respect Indonesia’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity as well as the non-intervention principle into a country’s domestic affairs as stated in the United Nation’s charter.”
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will visit Fiji this month for the Pacific Islands Development Forum meeting in Nadi. Dr Richard Chauvel of Victoria University said this is part of Indonesia's increasing intervention in the region after the MSG visit.
He said: “The way the [MSG] Foreign Ministers visit [to West Papua] was hosted; you'll remember [PNG Prime Minister] O'Neill was in Jakarta when the MSG meeting was held. But clearly it has longer term strategic ambitions beyond its difficulties in West Papua.”
Vanuatu has been the strongest supporter of West Papua in the region. The country was the only MSG member that took a principled stand by boycotting the trip. Then-PM Moana Carcasses, a vocal supporter of West Papua, lost his position in a vote of no confidence on May 15.
Vanuatu Independent editor Tony Wilson said: “This has been kept extremely quiet. Everyone in the media, and I think even some politicians, were in the dark.”
The West Papua Coalition for Liberation says the new prime minister, Joe Natuman, will continue supportingWest Papuan self-determination. But the new foreign minister, Sato Kilman, tried to strengthen ties with Indonesia when he was prime minster.
Indeed, it was partly his abandonment of Vanuatu's traditional support for West Papua that led to his defeat by Carcasses.


NZ police training project in West Papua shelved

Dateline Pacific, Wednesday 21 May 2014

Relief expressed and questions raised over the announcement that New Zealand's planned community policing training programme in Indonesia's Papua region has been shelved.
A New Zealand MP says she's glad that the government's planned community policing training programme in Indonesia's Papua region has been shelved.
The Eastern Indonesia Community Policing Programme had been slated for early 2014.
But New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says Indonesia has advised that it is not able to support the project at this time.
The Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty opposed the project from the time it was announced three years ago, as well as earlier incarnations of the programme.
She told Johnny Blades it's unhelpful to West Papuans for New Zealand to partner with Indonesia's police apparatus when it is widely linked to rights abuses in the region.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY: Well I think that they are clearly still operating a very violent police force and they don't want scrutiny but also I've just discovered today too that there was a presidential decree about the handling of domestic security issues which basically said the resolution of conflict among citizens cannot be handled by the police. Police duty is to stop clashes and not to handle the problems. Now I don't know how to interpret that but clearly the issue of scrutiny and the issue of both media and human rights freedom in West Papua is not improving and it is possible that they don't want any scrutiny at all and that's quite concerning for the people of West Papua. Even though we're glad that we're not wasting New Zealand money we would rather see that New Zealand money spent on making sure that there is proper scrutiny and there is proper access for media, it is an interesting situation.
JOHNNY BLADES: What about what the government's done, and the three years it's taken to arrange this latest stage of that cooperation.
CD: Well my understanding is that a lot of work's gone in and no doubt quite a bit of money's been spent and I will be seeking answers about how much and exactly what's gone on because this was a programme that was well developed and when we challenged them about it the New Zealand government said that it was an important aid opportunity and that it was going to make a huge difference and that they had audited it and they had definite evidence that it was working and all of a sudden it's been axed. So what's happened to all that work and what's happened to all that state resource in this programme and what will New Zealand offer West Papua? Why aren't we taking a more responsible approach than proposing this, spending money on it, and then the Indonesians don't even want it so it just sounds like it's been mismanaged from start to finish.
JB: Murray McCully said a while back that this community policing is one of the best things that New Zealand can do to help West Papuans.
CD: Well clearly that's not true, the New Zealand journalist who went into West Papua, Paul Bensemann, discovered people were calling the New Zealand policing programme, 'aid that kills' so in that sense it wasn't a great thing. If it's the best we can offer then we should be very ashamed. The best we can offer is to offer to mediate for peace between West Papuan leaders and the Indonesian government in a situation that's contaminated by police violence. We have not been offering our best, now the programme's been dropped and an awful lot of money's been wasted and time which could of been better used to do something constructive about peace making in West Papua.