OPM / ULMWP Final Declaration

“I as the founder of the Free West Papua Movement or Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) want to acknowledge and support the United Liberation Movement of West Papua that it is a political organisation that carries the spirit of OPM that will continue the struggle and fulfill its final mission, which is establishing the full independence and sovereign Republic of West Papua.”

Faces of West Papua struggle from left to right: Andy Ayamiseba, Benny Wenda, Barak Sope, Rex Rumakiek, and Paula Makabory pose with final declarations
Faces of West Papua struggle from left to right: Andy Ayamiseba, Benny Wenda, Barak Sope, Rex Rumakiek, and Paula Makabory pose with final declarations

The statement has been sent by Jacob (Yakob) Prai from his home away from home in Sweden on December 28 of 2017, after meeting the Chairman of ULMWP, Benny Wenda.

The statement under official OPM letterhead states, “Therefore, in the name of God, this holy struggle, the ancestors of Papua, all our fallen heroes, the tears and suffering of the people of West Papua that continue to struggle from the jungles of New Guinea, mountains, valleys, islands, prisons, refugee camps as well as all those who live in exile in many parts of the world, that I as the leader of OPM and the founder of the struggle of free Papua, fully support and give full mandate to Mr. Benny Wenda as the leader of ULMWP and the political wing of OPM, to carry out the task as the leader of the nation of Papua.

“I thank the leaders and the people of West Papua, I hope that this recognition serves as a guideline to free the nation of Papua from Indonesian colonialism.”

His statement has received unanimous endorsement by the ULMWP Executive in the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Port Vila.

In a separate statement to support Jacob Prai’s historic confirmation of support for ULMWP, Executive members Andy Ayamiseba (for Legal CounseL) and Rex Rumakiek (for National Liberation Army of WP) declare, “We, the undersigned senior members of the independence movement of West Papua, the OPM recognise the importance of national unity in our struggle for independence.

“We also recognise the role undertaken by respected leaders of Vanuatu to bring about unity in the West Papuan struggle.

“Two national leaders in particular need commendation.

“They are the current Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Joe Natuman and former Prime Minister Barak Maautamate Sope.”

The statement reminds the world about how West Papua’s first application to join MSG was deferred on the grounds that the movement lacked broad based support.

Deputy Prime Minister Natuman requested the formation of a West Papua Unification Committe that brought together West Papua leaders to Vanuatu where the Saralana Declaration of Unity was signed by all representatives of West Papua factions present.

Another historical leader, Barak Maautamate Sope has a long history of uniting different factions of the West Papua independence movement. In 1985 he invited two key leaders of OPM, Jacob Prai and (now deceased) Brigedier General Seth Rumkorem led by (now deceased) Theys Elluay, to Vanuatu where they signed a memorandum of understanding to work together. In 2000 he (then Prime Minister Barak Sope) included the two groups in his delegation to the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York. The Vanuatu Mission at the UN also facilitated an audience with the Decolonization Committee of 24.

The signing ceremony of the Port Vila Declaration was also witnessed by Andy Ayamiseba and Rex Rumakiek, who also signed the ‘Statement in support of Mr. Jacob Prai on his recognition and support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’.

Barak Sope also graced the signing ceremony at the Grand Hotel.

Asked to update the readers on what it was that prompted him and the late Father Walter Lini and other leaders of the Independence Struggle to take the stand that they took, he said the colonial history of all Pacific Islands were similar – cruel. “This is why Father Lini and all of us declared that Vanuatu would not be completely free until West Papua was free because today it is still colonised by Indonesia,” Sope says.

He criticizes Australia and Indonesia for alleged human rights abuse on West Papuans. “East Timor was the same and Vanuatu stood firmly for the freedom of the Timorese. Last year my wife and I were invited to Dili by the President of East Timor who awarded me the Order of East Timor for Vanuatu’s stand with its people for their freedom,” he says,

In addition he says Portugual had colonised East Timor and later Indonesia annexed it until under international outcry, it gave in to its freedom. Now Indonesia is doing exactly the same thing to West Papua.

When Sope was secretary general of the Vanua’aku Pati and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, he was mandated by Father Lini to unify FLNKS of New Caledonia and West Papua. “Now FLNKS is a member of MSG and yet, all the processes were done even before MSG was born. To get Prai and Rumkorem to come together, I had to travel to Europe to invite them to come to Vanuatu along with Brother Andy and Brother Rex,” he recalls.

He says Prai and Rumkorem were afraid of each other but at the end of it all, they agreed to unite and the Port Vila Declaration was signed at his family home on Ifira in 1985. “So today I am proud to know that Jacob Prai and the miltary arm of West Papua have agreed to become one with ULMWP,” Sope concludes.

ULMWP leaders say its endorsement signals their final declaration ending approximately 50 years of independence struggle as they prepare to attend the Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting in Port Moresby next week, to hear the outcome of their application for full membership to join MSG. In fact they have already left and VCC representative Job Dalesa confirms the Chairman of ULMWP, Benny Wenda and Octavianus Mote have been allowed to attend the MSG meeting next week.

Meanwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ralph Regenvanu says as far as he was aware on Tuesday this week, West Papua was not on the MSG proposed agenda.

He has since written to the relevant authorities to make sure that West Papua is included, and promised to follow up on the issue with a phone call to his Papua New Guinea counterpart yesterday afternoon.

The Minister says after three o’clock yesterday afternoon that he was not able to get through to his PNG counterpart on the phone but that he has written to the MSG hosts to remind them to make sure that West Papua is on the agenda. “I am leaving for PNG tomorrow (today) and I will make sure that West Papua is included on the agenda”, he concludes.

Indonesia is losing Melanesia

Indonesia is losing MelanesiaVanuatu Dailypost –  – On Sunday last week, New Zealand-based analyst Jose Sousa-Santos commented on Twitter that “Indonesia’s attempt at buying support from the Pacific region seem to have little to no impact on Melanesia’s stance on [West] Papua.

”That’s one of those pesky observations that’s neither entirely right nor entirely wrong. The truth is: Indonesia is winning almost every battle… and still losing the fight.

Conventional wisdom used to be that Indonesia had built an impregnable firewall against Melanesian action in support of West Papuan independence. Its commercial and strategic relationship with Papua New Guinea is such that PNG’s foreign affairs establishment will frankly admit that their support for Indonesia’s territorial claims is axiomatic. Call it realpolitik or call it timidity, but they feel that the West Papuan independence doesn’t even bear contemplating.

Widespread grassroots support and its popularity among progressive up-and-comers such as Gary Juffa don’t seem to matter. As long as Jakarta holds the key to economic and military tranquillity, Port Moresby’s elites are content to toe the Indonesian line.

The situation in Suva is similar. Fiji First is naturally inclined is toward a more authoritarian approach to governance. And it seems that the military’s dominance of Fiji’s political landscape dovetails nicely with Indonesia’s power dynamic.

Many argue that Fiji’s relationship is largely mercenary. It wouldn’t flourish, they say, if the path to entente weren’t strewn with cash and development assistance. That’s probably true, but we can’t ignore the sincere cordiality between Fiji’s leadership and their Indonesian counterparts. The same seeds have been planted in Port Vila, but they haven’t take root.

Until recently, Indonesia’s ability to derail consensus in the Melanesian Spearhead Group has ensured that West Papuan independence leaders lacked even a toehold on the international stage. In the absence of international recognition and legitimacy, the Indonesian government was able to impose draconian restrictions on activists both domestically and internationally.

Perhaps the most notorious example was their alleged campaign to silence independence leader Benny Wenda, who fled Indonesia after facing what he claims were politically motivated charges designed to silence him. He was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom, but a subsequent red notice—usually reserved for terrorists and international criminals—made travel impossible.

In mid-2012, following an appeal by human rights organisation Fair Trials, Interpol admitted that Indonesia’s red notice against Mr Wenda was ‘predominantly political in nature’, and removed it.

Since then, however, activists have accused Indonesia of abusing anti-terrorism mechanisms to curtail Mr Wenda’s travels. A trip to the United States was cancelled at the last moment because American authorities refused to let him board his flight. It was alleged that an Indonesian complaint was the source of this refusal.

Independence supporters claim that Indonesian truculence has also led to Mr Wenda being barred from addressing the New Zealand parliament. His appearance at the Sydney opera house with human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson received a standing ovation from the 2500 audience members… and an irate protest from Indonesian officials.

Not all of Indonesia’s efforts are overt. Numerous commentators made note of the fact that Vanuatu’s then-foreign minister Sato Kilman visited Jakarta immediately before his 2015 ouster of Prime Minister Joe Natuman. Mr Natuman, a lifelong supporter of West Papuan independence, was a stalwart backer of membership in the MSG for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, or ULMWP. He was unseated bare weeks before the Honiara meeting that was to consider the question.

Mr Kilman, along with Indonesian officials, vehemently deny any behind-the-scenes collusion on West Papua.

But even with Vanuatu wavering, something happened at the June2015 Honiara meeting that surprised everyone. Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare stage-managed a diplomatic coup, a master class in Melanesian mediation.

In June of 2015, I wrote that the “Solomonic decision by the Melanesian Spearhead Group to cut the baby in half and boost the membership status of both the ULMWP and Indonesia is an example of the Melanesian political mind at work. Valuing collective peace over individual justice, group prosperity over individual advancement, and allowing unabashed self-interest to leaven the sincerity of the entire process, our leaders have placed their stamp on what just might be an indelible historical moment.

”Since then, the sub-regional dynamic has undergone a transformation. Mr Kilman’s administration suffered a collapse of unprecedented proportions following corruption charges against more than half of his government. The resulting public furore seems—for the moment at least— to have catalysed a backlash against venality and personal interest.

If the rumours are true, and Indonesia did have a hand in Mr Kilman’s palace coup, the tactic hasn’t worked since. A pair of no confidence motions—not very coincidentally on the eve of yet another MSG leaders’ summit—failed even to reach the debate stage.

Kanaky’s support for West Papuan Independence has never wavered, but given their semi-governmental status, and their staunch socialist platform, Jakarta would be hard pressed to find a lever it could usefully pull.

For his part, Sogavare has survived more than one attempt to topple him. Hi sown party leaders explicitly referenced his leadership on the West Papuan question when they tried to oust him by withdrawing their support.

In a masterful—and probably unlawful—manoeuvre, Mr Sogavare retained his hold on power by getting the othercoalition members to endorse him as their leader. His deft handling of the onslaught has raised him in the estimation of many observers of Melanesian politics. Some claim that his dodging and weaving has placed him in the first rank of Melanesia’s political pantheon.

In Vanuatu as well, once bitten is twice shy. Prime Minister Charlot Salwai raised eyebrows when he not only met with the ULMWP leadership, but accepted the salute of a contingent of freedom fighters in full military regalia. The meeting took place at the same moment as MSG foreign ministers met to consider rule changes that, if enacted, will almost inevitably result in full membership for the ULMWP.

The MSG has traditionally operated on consensus. If these rule changes pass muster, this will no longer be the case. It is a near certainty that Indonesia will do its utmost to avert this.

Mr Sogavare has demonstrated an inspired approach to the situation: If the MSG won’t stand for decolonisation in the Pacific, he asks, what is it good for? This rhetoric has become a chorus, with senior politicians in Vanuatu and Kanaky joining in.

Mr Sogavare is, in short, embarked on his own march to Selma. And he is willing to allow the MSG to suffer the slings and arrows of Indonesian opprobrium. He is, in short, willing to allow the MSG to die for their sins.

Whether we agree or not with the independence campaign, there is no denying the genius of Mr Sogavare’s ploy. His willingness to sacrifice the MSG for the cause takes away the one lever that Indonesia had in Melanesia.

His key role in orchestrating an end run around the Pacific Islands Forum’s wilful silence is another trademark move. When human rights concerns were simply glossed over in the communiqué, he and other orchestrated a chorus of calls for attention to the issue in the UN general assembly.

Manasseh Sogavare and his Pacific allies have found a strategy that is making the advancement of the West Papuan independence movement inexorable. As Ghandi demonstrated in India, as with Dr King’s campaign for civil rights showed again and again, anything less than defeat is a victory.

Without losing a single major battle, Indonesia is—slowly, so slowly—being forced from the board.

Many West Papuans Are Marrying Indonesians While Blaming NKRI for Genocide

Many West Papuans are beings sent out from West Papua, while many Indonesians are being brought in to West Papua to study at the universities. West Papua has two major universities, the first one is Cenderawasih University in Papua Province and the second one is University of Papua in Papua Barat Province. There are also many private universities, run by church organisations and Papuan foundations. These universities are already enough, and even more than enough for Papuan students.

All high school graduates, of course the native Papuans only, can be easily enter universities in West Papua.

This policy can avoid many young Papuan generations meeting Indonesian youths in their Islands, and finally become friends, close friends and marrying them.

To date, we can note easily, many government officials in Papua and Papua Barat provinces have married Indonesian ladies. Vice Governor of Papua, Klemen Tinal dan the Governor of Papua Barat Abraham Atururi are both married to Indonesian ladies.Our famous and first highlander Doctoral degree holder, the Rev. Dr. Benny Giay is married to Indonesian woman, the first one passed away, and then married again to another Indonesian woman. The ULMWP Secretary-Genaral Octo Motte is not married to a Melanesian lady, but an Indonesian.

The are two types of Genocide is happening here in West Papua. The first one is the clever way Indonesian in carrying out genocide. I want to call this systematically and strategically planned genocide. The second one is what I call “self-genocidal act”. We cannot blamce anybody for this type of genocide, because we make our own rational choice to wipe out our own race. And the impact of both types of genocides are forever. We cannot undo this type of genocide, i.e., genocide by wiping out a race by marrying cross-race or generally called mixed marriages.

Right now we have “Special Autonomy Law”, which clearly defines “Orang Asli Papua” (Papuan Natives) non-natives. The term “orang Asli” clearly means those Papuans who are born from a mother and a father from Papuan ancestry, a Melanesian race. However, recently, we have read articles from various so-called intellectuals from West Papua defining “Orang Asli Papua” including Carmel Budiardjo from England and George J. Aditjondro from Indonesia. It becomes confusing when academics try to define something, because they have their bains working in their head defining what is “Orang Asli Papua” and what is non-native Papuans based on their own interests. The worse thing is those Papuans who are married to and bear children with non-Papuans are now trying to re-define the definition of “Orang Asli Papua or shortly called OAP”.

In a long term, we will come up with OAP, half-Papuan and non-Papuan.

There is still debate on whether or not a Papuan father and an Indonesian mother is also called “native Papuan”. What about a Papuan mother and an Indonesian mother? Are they native Papuan or OAP? What about an Australian father and a Papuan mother? What about a Dutch mother and a Papuan father? What about a Papuan father and an American mother?

We Melanesians in West Papua should now from now on think about marrying our own man and woman. If we West Papuans find there is no man or woman suitable for us, then let us not go to Indonesia to find one, but let us go to Melanesia instead. We have our own race here, start from Sorong all the way to Suva, Fiji. Let us find out man and woman from our own race. Our Melanesian race is decreasing, the first one because Indonesians are wiping out Melanesan race systematically and structurally, openly and undercover operations. But we Melanesians ourselves are also carrying out self-genocide. Both genocides rapidly reduces the number of “OAP” in West Papua. Let us now wake up! Let us do!, not only talk about Papua and Melanesia. Let us be truthful about who we love and who we fight for. What about those who love the Indonesians and marry them, but speak for Papuans?

“Slave Mentality” Will be Easily Manipulated by “Fear Factor”

Human beings who are mentally slave will not be free from fear. No matter who we are: politicians, clergymen, teachers, tribal elders, students, brave boys and girls, old and young, anybody , those who have “fear” in their life should automatically acknowledge themselves that they are mentally slave, they have slave mentality.

Slave mentality has no choice in life, mentality of surrender, mentality of uncertainty, mentality of dependence, mentality that has no position at all because slaves are totally dependent on the will, wishes and wants of their masters.

An interesting point to acknowledge is that most of slaves in human history are physically strong peoples. They work hard from morning to night, from young to old age, even until they die. They are hard-working peoples. But on the contrary, they are mentally the weakest human beings.

Most of the slaves are also spiritually and physically strong, but mentally weak, and this weakness is the gate into fear. Fear of being punished, fear of being sold, fear of being killed, fear of being anything bad that can happen to the slave.

The fear grows well because the slave status limits every rights, every possibility of making any choice in life.

Melanesian peoples today, when facing Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, we can easily point out that we are mentally being slaved for so long. We declare that we live in free countries. We are proud that we live in Paradise South Pacific. We always declare that our country is rich of natural resources and culture. However, when it comes to talking about our identity, our freedom and our future, we suddenly put out our identity as the “true slave in this 21-st century”.

Of course Melanesia peoples have never experienced any slavery in our history like those of our fellow blacks across the Black Continent. However, when it comes to standing up and voicing our opinions and positions on various issues affecting our lives and our future generations against aggressors, colonizers and imperialists, then we suddenly become “true slaves” of the modern world.

We become powerless when being faced by Indonesian politicians. We become speechless when we are offered with some tens of kina, Vatu and dollars by the Australians and Indonesians. Our true “slave mentality” comes out when we are threatened to be attacked by the Indonesian armed forces. Slave mentality is the mentality that we Melanesians are sharing today. We must get rid of this mentality, free our mentality, then we can talk about “Free West Papua to Free Melanesia!”

“Fear-Factor” Politics by Indonesia Across Melanesian Peoples

Indonesia in reality is not that strong as it may appear to many Melanesians, particularly Papuans in Papua New Guinea. Militarily it is big in number. However, they are very unskilled. They do not know how to stay just one night without water. Their do not have any fighting spirit. They would rather go home and enjoy life with their families.

In addition, all Indonesian soldiers are very poorly paid. They have many burdens on their shoulders. Indonesia is very poor, many military and police forces are underpaid.

Indonesian soldiers are assigned to West Papua but they always pray everyday to go back to their homeland, because they do know, that West Papua is an occupied land, not their homeland.

Politicians however, always appear on tables and discussions, display as if they very strong military power in South East Asia. If this is true, then I can prove by saying, “they have been unable to completely wipe out all West Papuan fighters in the jungles of New Guinea”. How come this unskilled and unprofessional military forces pose fear to our Papuan peoples on the other side of our New Guinea Island?

Politics means telling lies, that is what Indonesians have taught us. And that is exactly what they are doing. They are telling us all stories contrary to the reality in the field. They told us Indonesia is a rich country, right? No, the reality is that 100% of beggars, prostitutes and beggars in Indonesia are from Java and Sumatera, the owners of the so-called Indonesia nation-state.How come they claim they are rich to us in Melanesia but they are the ones selling their bodies for money, day and night here in West Papua, in Sumatera, Sulawesi, Jawa, Bali? Just come and proof by yourself.

Politics means manipulating the reality. Indonesia politicians also manipulate the reality of ill-equipped, unskilled, unwilling Indonesian soldiers as if they are professional, well-equipped, dangerous soldiers on earth.

Just read various statements made by Papua New Guinea citizens and politicians, read them word by word. You will find out clearly that there is “fear” in the words, sentences that Papuans in PNG say. Even politicians like Michael Somare also said it is time to talk about West Papua today than before when he was the PNG PM for so long time. He was fearful that Indonesia will attack PNG at that time, they will kill him at that time, they will ambush Vanimo, and so on.

Indonesia is the expert in manipulating the truth and telling lies. They will appear as well-educated, civilized, very polite human beings on earth. Javanese culture does colour the Indonesian culture, they look polite and tidy, but they are actually stubborn and uncivilized in their mindset. They will appear very polite to you, and after they go home, they will demonstrate what they have done to you and how you reacted, and then they will laugh at your ignorance and stupidity.

They are using their manipulation tactic to terrorize all of us Melanesians. They want us Melanesians to realise that we cannot fight against Indonesia. They want us to see them like a lion hungry of Melanesian meats. They want us to think they are superpowers in the South Pacific Region. They want us to see them as the dangerous and determinant power in the region. They hide the reality that they are actually ill-equipped, unskilled, under-paid, and many of their people are unwilling to fight for West Papua, a far away Island from them.

Fear Factor is always used by colonial powers across the globe, along the history of colonialism in the world.

If we Papuans, and we Melanesians are scared of them, feel powerless before them, then we must be assured that we are suffering a colonial disease called “slave mentality.”

Human beings with “slave mentality” have no choice, have no power in mind even though physically powerful. Slave mentality always paranoid in making any right decisions. Slave mentality always use “security” and “safety” as the title to get away from facing the reality that undermines his/ her humanity.

Sir Michael Somare: We Melanesians must make right choice on Papua

By PMC Editor – July 14, 2016, By Sir Michael Somare

Sir Michael Somare
Sir Michael Somare … “Our decisions made at the MSG Leaders’ Summit over these next two days will embed values in future generations of Melanesian people who will regard our solidarity with admiration if we make the right decisions regarding decolonisation and self-determination.” Image: Malumnalu.blogspot

The four Melanesian prime ministers of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji will come together in Honiara, Solomon Islands today as chairman Manasseh Sogavare hosts the 23rd Melanesian Spearhead Group Special Leader’s Summit.

Decolonisation and independence of Melanesian countries are processes of liberation close to my heart. The Noumea Accord, for instance, symbolises the pursuit of self-reliance and autonomy synonymous with the rights and freedoms available to all peoples of this century.

In practice the accord provides for technical assistance, training programmes for the Kanaky people still residing under French sovereign rule.

Such arrangements already provide a legal and practical framework for the indigenous people of New Caledonia to fully exercise their right to self–determination, even as they long for independence.

Our decisions made at the MSG Leaders’ Summit over these next two days will embed values in future generations of Melanesian people who will regard our solidarity with admiration if we make the right decisions regarding decolonisation and self-determination.

From today we will tell our own story, the story of our constitutional and universal right to exercise the freedoms given to us at independence in each of our countries.

Today we can, by consensus, trigger the process for greater self-determination to be enjoyed by West Papuans.

‘Founding Father’
As a “Founding Father” I am encouraged by the progress made already on the key issue of West Papua’s full membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

I am inspired that the MSG senior officials, ministers and leaders will have maintained consensus despite some complex and sensitive diplomatic, economic, social, and political issues.

Genuine and inclusive consultation among all MSG member states and one territory in considering the future path to decolonisation and self-determination for West Papua is critical now more than ever before.

We can strengthen the Melanesian Spearhead Group and our region, which includes West Papua, by ensuring that Melanesian leaders in Honiara approve the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s application for full membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

We are one people spread over many continents and oceans, separated by the sea and mountain ranges in diverse sovereign jurisdictions.

Our ancestors roamed freely over our shared land and sea for centuries prior to colonial and Christian interventions.

We must hold onto that spirit of a vast community that underpins our modern efforts within diplomacy and international cooperation and dialogue.

Political upheaval
All MSG member states and one territory have experienced some level of political upheaval and civil conflict requiring decisive political and economic reform and declarations for peaceful transitions to occur.

The export of mineral resources and agricultural commodities remains a key source of revenue for all states and one territory at the MSG.

So it is essential that we endeavor to sustain political stability in order to buttress economic and environmental sustainability for the good of all Melanesian people.

But our sub-region can only prosper when all political, economic, socio-cultural and environmental issues are considered in the same light according to the needs of all of our people.

Our growth potential relies on our diplomatic and official relationships, our ties and our linkages to the rest of the world. But as a group of ethnically linked people we have always relied on talking, exchange and cultural participation.

We are Melanesians after all. That is what makes us distinct.

We bring those distinct features to every forum but this week at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Special Leaders’ Summit we have a unique opportunity yet again to decide on our own future with integrity as self-governing and independent members of a powerful sub-regional bloc.

More than ever that sub-region needs to include West Papua as an integral part and, as an equally participating member.

Rt Hon Grand Chief Sir Michael T Somare
Port Moresby

They need our help Will we let West Papuans lose everything?

Padre James Bhagwan, Fiji Times Online, Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LAST week I ended my column drawing a correlation between the writing of JW Burton, Totaram Sandhya and CF Andrews on the indenture system and the recent report of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane on the injustice and human rights abuse in West Papua.

Titled, “We Will Lose Everything: A Report On A Human Rights Fact Finding Mission To West Papua”, this document seeks to present the voice of the people of West Papua as accurately as possible. The delegation’s program, while in West Papua, was determined by Papuans who worked closely with them throughout the two-week visit.

Beginning with the dealings by international powers which enabled the Indonesian Government to occupy West Papua in the 1960s without the free consent of the people, the report highlights the violence and marginalisation endured by the Papuan people. Below are extracts from the report which can be read in full at: https://cjpcbrisbane.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/we-will-lose-everything-may-2016.pdf

The commission’s delegation to West Papua in February 2016 found no improvement in the human rights situation. Reports of human rights violations by members of Indonesian security forces had not declined and the economic and social status of Papuans has not improved. The Indonesian legal and political system is unwilling and unable to address human rights violations in West Papua.

A meeting with Papuan families living in a compound in Kuala Censana exemplifies why the fear among Papuans of security forces intimidation, harassment and violence has not declined at all in recent times.

The families met by the delegation are Dani people who support the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). They related an incident which occurred on February 5, 2016, a public holiday to mark the coming of Christian missionaries to West Papua. The local KNPB branch had organised a meeting on an oval to celebrate the holiday, but also to present awards for a recent sporting competition and to inform people about the organisation’s campaign for a referendum on independence in West Papua.

In a report on arrests of political prisoners in West Papua between 2012 and 2014, Papuans behind Bars reported that 1341 Papuans were arrested in the two-year period and 98 per cent of those arrested were not armed. (See http://www.papuansbehindbars.org/ and for a comprehensive coverage of human rights violations in West Papua in 2015, see the International Coalition for Papua’s 2015 Human Rights Report at http://www.humanrightspapua.org/hrreport/2015/ ).

The delegation heard people do not go out at night for fear they will be taken by members of the security forces and will be beaten or killed. Their fears are not imaginary. They reported two men had been found dead in the town in the past year — one was found dead in the street with his scooter helmet still strapped to his head and another was a young man who is the son of a prominent pastor who is a strong advocate of the rights of the Papuan people.

They also reported that out-of-uniform soldiers would sometimes ride motorcycles into the stalls of Papuan women in the local markets to destroy their capacity to make a living.

In April 2016, the co-ordinator of the prominent Indonesian human rights organisation, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS), Haris Azhar, asserted that human rights violations in West Papua had continued to worsen since the election of President Widodo in September 2014. He referred to data on his organisation’s records indicating there had been over 1200 incidents of harassment, beatings, torture and killings of Papuans by Indonesian security forces in the past year.

Everywhere the delegation went in West Papua, soldiers, police and intelligence operatives were clearly visible. At one of the towns our delegation visited, the priest who hosted their visit was asked to attend the police station to answer questions on the reasons for the delegation’s presence in the community.

In several places, Papuans reported that significant numbers of military personnel being brought into the area ostensibly for non-military purposes such as undertaking audits of places of cultural significance, but locals believe their presence is intended to reinforce the capacity to monitor and control the activities of those promoting independence.

Information from various parts of West Papua assert the security forces are often involved in businesses such as brothels and logging. If not involved as owners, they obtain income by providing security for these businesses. They also supplement their income by compelling local government authorities to employ soldiers as security or drivers.

According to KNPB leaders with whom the delegation spoke in 2016 and with whom members of the 2015 pilgrimage also spoke, 28 KNPB members have been summarily executed by Indonesian security forces between 2012 and 2016.

A report provided to the commission by a Catholic seminarian indicates that, on April 5, the Timika Branch of KNPB held a prayer meeting to pray for the granting to the ULMWP of full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The prayer meeting took place in the Golgota GKI Church. A group of soldiers, police and members of Detachment 88 arrived at the meeting and removed some KNPB material and destroyed a stage constructed for the gathering.

“When they arrived, the KNPB leader in Timika, Steven Itlay, said the prayer meeting would continue. However, the contingent of soldiers and police decided to break up the meeting. They beat members of the community and arrested Steven Itlay and eight other KNPB members. They were kicked and beaten with rifle butts during the arrests.”

The report highlighted that West Papuans are just as much concerned about their growing economic and social marginalisation as they are about the violence of the security forces. Without a doubt, the single most important factor for them in this regard is the rapid demographic changes which have resulted from the extremely high rate of migration into West Papua from Java, Sumatra, Flores, West Timor and other Indonesian islands.

As visitors, the dramatic demographic shift is readily observable.

Indonesian faces are as common as Melanesian faces, if not the majority, in many places the delegation visited in West Papua. In the main towns we visited — Port Numbay (Jayapura), Timika, Sorong and Merauke — they are already the majority.

Along with the influx of Indonesian migrants have come changes in language, food, dress, religion, music, art and much more. Papuans have seen themselves pushed to one side by often more aggressive Indonesian migrants who have taken over land, the economy and cultural spaces.

Dr James Elmslie’s demographic projections for Melanesian people in West Papua present a stark picture. Since 1971, he estimates the Melanesian proportion of the population in West Papua has declined from around 96 per cent to a present day minority of 48.73 per cent; and he projects the proportion will decline to 28.99 per cent in four short years in 2020.

It is no wonder that Papuans, seeing the rapid changes around them, believe their situation is desperate. It is also the reason why the ULMWP leadership claims that “We will lose everything!” unless there is a dramatic shift in the political situation in West Papua in the next few years.

In the light of the delegation’s findings, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane made a number of recommendations, including that:

& Governments in the Pacific, including the Australian Government, should seek intervention at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations General Assembly to initiate a credible, independent investigation into human rights violations in West Papua;

& Governments in the Pacific should also pressure the Indonesian Government directly and seek the intervention of the United Nations to establish a dialogue between the Indonesian Government and the acknowledged leaders of the people of West Papua, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua in order to identify a credible pathway towards genuine self-determination for the people of West Papua;

& Churches and civil society organisations in the Pacific should continue to build a network of solidarity with their counterparts in West Papua in order to support advocacy and action on human rights violations and the pursuit of self-determination by the people of West Papua and their leaders, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua; and

& The Australian Government should urgently consider the mounting evidence of involvement in human rights violations in West Papua by members of the Indonesian military, police force, including Detachment 88, and intelligence service. Based on this investigation, it should review any support, training and funding of any units involved in human rights violations in West Papua with a view to suspending such support until policy changes to end violations are implemented by the Indonesian Government.

There is much more in the report than which I have shared. One reader of the report shared his hope and prayer that we in Fiji realise that while we may be suffering there are others in our midst who are suffering more. My thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in West Papua and I pray that sooner rather than later, I will see the day when an international or regional peacekeeping, peace building force is deployed to West Papua.

Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity.

* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained Methodist minister and a citizen journalist. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Methodist Church in Fiji or this newspaper.

5 Things You Need to Know About Indonesia’s Occupation of West Papua

The Indonesian president, Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, recently finished his tour of the EU, signing five cooperation agreements with the UK during his stop in London. The protest that confronted Jokowi’s visit fractured his attempt to keep hidden one of Indonesia’s dark secrets: the 50 year war in its easternmost provinces. Here are five things you should know about Indonesian rule in West Papua:

1. It is one of the world’s longest-running military occupations.

Indonesia seized West Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea, in 1963, shortly after the Dutch colonists pulled out. Political parties were immediately banned, nascent Papuan nationalism crushed, and tens of thousands of troops, police and special forces flooded in. In 1969 a UN-supervised sham referendum was held, and just over a thousand hand-picked representatives were bribed, cajoled and threatened into voting in favour of Indonesian rule.

A police state has shackled the vast region ever since, battling a low-level tribal insurgency and suppressing independence aspirations with such vigour that raising the Papuan national flag can land you 15 years in prison.

2. It’s possible that Indonesian rule constitutes a genocide.

Although international media and NGOs have been nearly uniformly banned from the territory for decades, most observers estimate that over 100,000 native Papuans have been killed since the 1960s – at least 10% of the population. With echoes of Indonesia’s rule in East Timor, which eliminated around one third of the population, a 2004 report from Yale Law School concluded: “[There is] a strong indication that the Indonesian government has committed genocide against the West Papuans.” Several other scholars have reached a similar conclusion.

Reports of barbarous killings regularly emerge, and one study recently described torture as a ‘mode of governance’ in the provinces. The abuse tends to be intertwined with projects of resource extraction and ‘transmigration’ – the effort (formerly supported by the World Bank) to shuttle hundreds of thousands of landless Indonesian peasants from the rest of Indonesia into West Papua.

During a military campaign in the early 1980s, the Indonesian army ran under the slogan, ‘Let the rats run into the jungle so that the chickens can breed in the coop’. In practice, this meant wiping out Papuan villages and bringing in ethnic Indonesians to work on economic projects like Freeport’s giant Grasberg gold and copper mine. The influx of Indonesians has left the original inhabitants a near-minority in the land, struggling to maintain their culture and often nomadic way of life. An Indonesian minister once in charge of the transmigration programme has stated: “The different ethnic groups will in the long run disappear because of integration, and there will be one kind of man.”

3. West Papuans overwhelmingly want independence.

Even the pro-Indonesian US ambassador admitted in the late 1960s that “possibly 85 to 90%” of West Papuans “are in sympathy with the Free Papua cause.” Paul Kingsnorth, an investigative reporter who travelled the region in the early 2000s, described the independence campaign as a “broad-based social movement, which almost everyone in West Papua, if you get them alone, will admit to belonging.”

Nothing speaks to this more than the long campaign of armed resistance and civil disobedience against the Indonesian state. In 2011, documents leaked from the Indonesian army detailed a “longstanding guerrilla network that is relatively well organised and which operates across the whole country.” A recent book describes the non-violent wing of the movement as ‘savvy and sophisticated’, and notes that “Papuans in 2015 desire freedom as much, if not more, than Papuans who desired freedom in 1963.”

Most West Papuans consider themselves Melanesian, with more in common with darker-skinned Pacific populations than the Indonesians who often treat them as racially inferior. Culturally, linguistically, ethnically – Papuans have little in common with Indonesians. For the overwhelming majority, nothing short of independence will suffice.

4. The Indonesian state is terrified of international exposure.

Alongside barring international media from West Papua, Indonesia runs counter-intelligence operations overseas to neutralise the international independence movement, surveilling and harassing campaigners based in Australia and elsewhere. Leaked military documents bemoan the success activists have had in “propagating the issue of severe human rights violations in Papua,” and Indonesia has been working hard to ensure exiled Papuan representatives are barred from regional Pacific organisations. Foreign visitors in the provinces are placed under routine surveillance, and Indonesian concern at the opening of the Free West Papua campaign office in Oxford even prompted the British ambassador in Jakarta to publicly distance himself from independence aspirations.

5. The West – including Britain – has supported Indonesia’s occupation for decades.

Britain’s historic alliance with the Indonesian state dates primarily to General Suharto’s bloody coup in 1965-6. In the midst of the slaughter of at least 500,000 suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party – which British officials gleefully described as a ‘ruthless terror’ – the Foreign Office argued that “the Generals are going to need all the help they can get”, releasing £1m in aid and granting the export of military equipment. The Indonesian left was duly decimated – never to recover – and the pro-Western Suharto was firmly in control.

Since then, Britain’s support for Indonesian rule in West Papua has been unwavering. Privately recognising the ‘savage’ nature of Indonesian rule, publicly officials have voted to legitimate Indonesian rule at the UN and pledged support for Indonesia’s ‘territorial integrity’. Until the late 90s, the UK was one of Indonesia’s primary arms suppliers. Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces, have been trained and armed by the UK, US and Australia, despite a well-documented record of horrific human rights abuse in Papua. Britain funds and trains Detachment 88, the Indonesian counter-terrorism unit accused of massacres in Papua’s central highlands.

While in opposition, David Cameron described the situation in Papua as ‘terrible’; once in power, he headed to Jakarta with representatives from BAE Systems in tow. By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn is a long-time supporter of the Papuan struggle – another example of his “direct and open challenge to the British system of government of international alliances”, as Peter Oborne described it. It remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to dislodge the British establishment’s ossified support for the Indonesian state if he comes to power.

Photo: Dominic Hartnett/Flickr

Can the US Marines Help Build Indonesia’s Amphibious Capabilities?

The Diplomat.cm – By Grant Newsham and Swee Lean Collin Koh, September 10, 2015

s a vast archipelagic nation-state prone to natural disasters, having a strong amphibious capability would appear to be a natural requirement for Indonesia. And as a part of the Indonesian Navy, the Marine Corps (Korps Marinir or KORMAR) has a key role to play in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR). Under the Minimum Essential Force (MEF) blueprint, Indonesia envisages by 2024 a greenwater navy capable of undertaking missions within its immediate regional waters as well as limited outreach beyond.

Under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, KORMAR, much like its sister branches, did experience some qualitative improvements. There was expected to continue under current President Joko Widodo, who in November 2014 outlined a vision of Indonesia as a Global Maritime Fulcrum. Of the five pillars of this vision, enhancing maritime defense lends further impetus for the ongoing MEF plan. Moreover, this pillar implicitly goes beyond continuing the primary focus of equipment upgrades. In particular, there is more to amphibious capacity-building than simply acquiring the hardware.

For instance, even an advanced, relatively well-funded navy such as the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) faces similar challenges. In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the JMSDF arrived on scene within a matter of hours. However, since it had no real amphibious capability – despite having some amphibious hardware – there was practically nothing to be done except to sit offshore while an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 survivors – who otherwise could have been saved – froze to death in the first 24-48 hours. Hence, there are some very practical reasons for developing and improving amphibious capabilities.

Opportunity for Engagement

Building amphibious capabilities certainly includes intensifying training, including engagement with foreign counterparts. Being traditionally more accustomed to bilateral, intra-Southeast Asian joint training and exercises, it is apparent that KORMAR seeks to develop a new area of expertise in broader region-wide initiatives. Notably, it played a key role in Indonesia-hosted Exercise Komodo, a multinational HA/DR exercise held in early 2014. And during the most recent Rim of the Pacific exercise hosted by the U.S., KORMAR deployed a contingent that performed admirably.

However, the Indonesians have room for improvement. An ambitious slew of initiatives is in the works: upgrading of aging hardware, improving personnel welfare, and developing human capital. The last aspect ties in with former Indonesian Navy chief Admiral Marsetio’s idea of a “World Class Navy” – increasing the quality of Indonesian naval servicemen (KORMAR personnel included), which can be accomplished through enhanced professional military education and training. This includes expanded interactions with foreign counterparts to learn and share best practices. It is thus clear that capacity-building for KORMAR is going to be more than acquiring new amphibious fighting vehicles or landing vessels. Although Jakarta might fulfill these requirements on its own, it can benefit from external assistance in its capacity-building efforts.

Washington has an opportunity to step up to this. In the revised version of “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” published in March this year, an increase in U.S. strategic attention to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is envisaged. The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) is designated to maintain a Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Expeditionary Unit in the region, and deploy a Marine Rotational Force to Australia as well as introducing new assets, such as the MV-22 Osprey. One of the objectives spelt out in this revised U.S. document is to enhance regional partnerships through expanded maritime security operations, shared maritime domain awareness and longer multilateral engagements. The aim is to build and sustain regional capacities to deal with local maritime security challenges.

Seen in this light, the USMC has a major role to play in helping to build the amphibious capacities of regional militaries, not least the Indonesians. The only question is how. To date, Washington has maintained a set of military engagements with Jakarta since the lifting of the arms embargo. This includes the extension of technical aid, such as helping Indonesia build an integrated maritime surveillance system network for maritime security purposes, as well as continuing the customary joint training and exercises, such as the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series.

Expanding the Scope

Just recently, the U.S. and Indonesia completed this year’s iteration of the CARAT exercise. This is useful, but what matters more is what happens the 360 days of the year when the Americans are not around to help sustain Indonesia’s amphibious capacity-building efforts. The U.S. Department of Defense’s current approach of conducting short-duration joint training and exercises with the Indonesians a few times annually is so short-term that it tends to shortchange amphibious development. This is hardly in line with the stated goals of the revised maritime strategy for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, not least if one considers Indonesia a key U.S. partner seen in the light of its geostrategic position.

Perhaps the key to drawing out the Indonesians is having Marines permanently assigned to KORMAR, as a means of building a more durable relationship via daily interactions. This approach has proven effective in Australia, Japan and South Korea. Stationing the right USMC personnel in Indonesia could help Jakarta play a larger role in Indo-Asia-Pacific and also assist in its Global Maritime Fulcrum vision. However, any such move would have to be calibrated, taking into consideration several potential hurdles in the way.

For example, Jakarta may be concerned about creating the wrong perceptions by allowing this permanent USMC presence. Domestically, it may also constitute a time-bomb with some constituents likely perceiving it as a move by Washington to further intensify its military footprint in the region. Even moderates will be worried whether it might trigger a potential regional backlash, not least having Indonesia seen by Beijing as being complicit in a U.S.-led containment effort.

One way to circumvent these obstacles is to proceed gradually. For a start, one USMC officer serving as advisor can based in Indonesia with KORMAR, or if necessary in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. The idea is to furnish a platform from which the officer can constantly interact with KORMAR, and promote and assist Indonesia’s amphibious capability building. The candidate would have to be carefully selected. He or she would need to have appreciable knowledge of Indonesia and its culture. This officer also needs to be able to operate in think-tank, media, and defense policy circles in order to sell “amphibiosity.” Fortuitously, the USMC has a number of potential candidates.

If this pilot scheme is successful, the logical next step would be to station a small USMC advisory team. This phase can possibly be accomplished without local political opposition so long as the USMC officer works the ground correctly and assiduously. In sum, enhancing USMC engagement with KORMAR would have to start small and aim for gradual progress appropriate for Indonesia’s amphibious capacity-building.

Some Final Thoughts

Unless the idea of amphibious operations is continuously pushed, it tends to fade into the background and be seen as a distraction from more “important” military operations. There seems to be a sort of equilibrium in most militaries, by which the individual armed services naturally focus on the core functions and capacities they consider most important, foremost being warfighting capabilities such as fighter jets, tanks, and combat ships and submarines. Moreover, the individual services do not naturally cooperate with each other. Yet amphibious capabilities require “some of each,” as the services must cooperate for joint operations combining sea/ground/air capabilities. This can be deemed contrary to the natural order of things in any military.

Not surprisingly, then, amphibious capabilities tend to be overlooked and when the need arises the services scramble to respond – and usually not very well. Once the need “recedes,” things go back to the equilibrium. This certainly applies to the case of Indonesia. Following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in December 2004, Jakarta endeavored to bolster HA/DR capabilities. The purchase of new landing platform, dock vessels was one major initiative. But over the past decade, it is also evident that the equilibrium has taken hold as Indonesia began to pay less attention to amphibious capabilities.

Inserting a USMC officer into Indonesia would be intended to keep this equilibrium from asserting itself, at least initially. The USMC has substantial expertise and knowledge to share with its Indonesian counterpart. And such new initiatives would be in line with the stated objectives of the revised maritime strategy. In consequence, a “building block” approach by doing it the correct way, with minimum political fuss, will facilitate not just KORMAR’s amphibious capacity-building but also enhance the U.S. military partnership with Indonesia. This will help more fully manifest Washington’s commitment to its Asia “rebalancing” efforts.

Grant Newsham is senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, based in Tokyo, and a retired U.S. Marine Colonel. He served as the first U.S. Marine Liaison Officer to the Japan Ground Self Defense Force from 2011-2013 and was instrumental in the development of the Japan Self Defense Force’s nascent amphibious capability. He remains active in amphibious development in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Swee Lean Collin Koh is associate research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, based in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He primarily researches on naval modernization in Southeast Asia.

The Human Tragedy of West Papua

The Diplomat.com – By Gemima Harvey, January 15, 2014

The people of West Papua have been calling for self-determination for half a century – a struggle for liberation from an Indonesian military occupation that has seen as many as 500,000 Papuans killed. A recent development in this long campaign is the suspicious death of a commander of the rebel Free Papua Movement (OPM), Danny Kogoya, on December 15. The cause of death, as described in the medical report, was liver failure, bought on by the presence of “unusual chemicals in his body,” raising concern that he was poisoned.

At the time of his death, Kogoya was at Vanimo hospital, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), receiving treatment for his leg. His leg was amputated in 2012 – without his consent – at a police hospital in Jayapura, West Papua, after Indonesian security forces shot him during an arrest. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a doctor at Vanimo hospital alleged that the chemicals were administered while Kogoya was at the police hospital in Jayapura and that he had been slowly poisoned to death by the Indonesian state authorities.

When Kogoya’s family submitted a request, with the medical report attached, to Vanimo Court House, asking for his body to be buried in West Papua, the Court decided to treat the death as a murder and called for an autopsy. AHRC reports that when the autopsy was scheduled, four individuals – two of them identified as Indonesian consulate staff – met with hospital management and prevented the autopsy from taking place.
Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

A series of subsequent negotiations between family members, Indonesian consulate officials and PNG local authorities resulted in the autopsy being agreed to. But latest reports indicate the autopsy is yet to happen.

Whether foul play is proven in the death of Kogoya or not, the incident is another in a long line in the liberation movement in West Papua, which has seen civilians with suspected links to separatists tortured, political activists murdered and perpetrators act with impunity.

Geographically, West Papua sits beside PNG, forming the western half of the resource-rich island of New Guinea, about 300 km from the northern tip of Australia. The West Papua region is split into two provinces: West Papua and Papua. Its indigenous people have Melanesian roots, making them culturally and ethnically similar to their counterparts in PNG, but the formers’ turbulent colonial history and ongoing struggle for self-determination sets them starkly apart from their neighbors.

After WWII, the Dutch, who colonized West Papua, began making preparations for its liberation, while Indonesia continued to lay claim to the territory. In 1961, Papuans raised their flag – The Morning Star – sang their national anthem and declared their independence. Soon after, Indonesia invaded, supported and armed by the Soviet Union. Fearing the spread of communism and with mining interests in West Papua, the U.S. intervened, and along with the UN, brokered the New York Agreement, giving interim control of West Papua (under UN supervision) to Indonesia in 1963, until a referendum could take place granting West Papuans a vote for either integration into Indonesia or self-determination.

Over the next several years, before the vote, it’s estimated that 30,000 West Papuans were killed by Indonesian military, in a brutal silencing of dissent and suppression of liberationist ideals. In 1969, the vote – ironically called “The Act Of Free Choice” was fraudulent, the outcome controlled. Just one percent of the population was selected to vote, and those chosen were intimidated by security forces, resulting in a unanimous vote for West Papua to be ruled by Indonesia. A man claiming to be part of the one percent who voted describes the scenario in a documentary, his face obscured, saying that a gun was held to his head, as he was given the ultimatum – vote for Indonesia or be killed.

Since then, mass atrocities have been carried out by Indonesian security forces and human rights abuses continue to this day. West Papua is the most heavily militarized region of Indonesia, with an estimated 45,000 troops presently deployed, and an extra 650 soldiers to patrol near the PNG border from February.

Paul Barber, coordinator of TAPOL, which works to promote human rights, peace and democracy in Indonesia, told The Diplomat that members of the military have committed horrific human rights violations in West Papua over the last fifty years, and have enjoyed complete impunity. A recent example occurred in June 2012, when security forces stationed in Wamena (in the Central Highlands), ran amok, bayoneting civilians and burning houses and vehicles.

‘’Violations often occur in remote areas, including the border area, and many go unreported. Troops tend to be unwelcome and underpaid, and their arrival usually precedes military business rackets, illegal logging, and human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and girls.’’

Barber said that political activists and human rights defenders are frequently branded as separatists and traitors and that the Indonesian Government continues to “isolate, silence and stigmatize its critics” as a means of denying the political nature of the problem.

The Security Approach: Silencing Voices of Dissent

The liberation movement comprises both violent and non-violent groups.

Militant group OPM, (which Kogoya was involved in), leads a low-level insurgency, and have attacked military, police and occasionally civilian targets over the years. A 2002 Amnesty International report found that counterinsurgency operations by Indonesian security forces have resulted in: “gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.”

Given the omnipresent suspicion that all West Papuans are separatists, or support separatist movements, the response of Indonesian troops has often been the same whether groups use peaceful tools, like demonstrations, or guerilla tactics. In other words, West Papuans need not be armed fighters to be persecuted, arrested, tortured or executed.

The shocking prevalence of torture by Indonesian security forces was revealed by a recent study, which found on average, one incident of torture has taken place every six weeks for the past half century. Of the 431 documented cases reviewed, just 0.05 percent of those tortured were proven to be members of militias – the vast majority of victims were civilians, most commonly farmers and students.

The PhD thesis of Dr. Budi Hernawan concludes “that torture has been deployed strategically by the Indonesian state in Papua as a mode of governance…with almost complete impunity.”

Some are tortured after being arbitrarily detained – TAPOL documented 28 political arrests involving torture in 2012 – while other cases have taken place near villages.

Take the example of Yawan Wayeni, a tribal leader and former political prisoner, whose killing in 2009 was filmed and leaked online the following year. AHRC reports that Indonesian Police (Brimob) shot Wayeni in the leg, before plunging a bayonet into his belly, spilling out his bowels. He utters the word “independence,” while slowly dying in the jungle, to which a police officer responds, ‘‘You Papuans are so stupid, you are savages.’’ In an interview with Aljazeera the police chief dealing with the case, Imam Setiawan, said that his men did not violate Wayeni’s human rights and had to stop him from talking about independence and tell him, ‘’You will never get your independence. We are the unified state of Indonesia. Don’t ever dream of your freedom.’’

This is not the only torture video to be leaked.

In October 2010, a video of Indonesian military personnel torturing two West Papuan men, who human rights group describe as simple farmers, surfaced online. They are accused of having information about weapons caches. One man, Tunaliwor Kiwo, is kicked in the face and chest, his genitals seared with a burning stick. The other, Telangga Gire, is threatened with a knife, the blade pushed against his throat and dragged across his face. Kiwo later recounts in a recorded testimony, that he escaped on the third day of the ordeal, and describes how he was also suffocated with plastic bags, had his toes crushed with pliers, and chillies smeared in his burns and cuts.

In January 2011, three soldiers involved in the abuse were sentenced to terms of eight to 10 months for “not following orders.” Despite Indonesia ratifying the UN Convention Against Torture in 1999, the military criminal code does not recognize torture as a punishable crime. In a speech to military and police forces just days before the sentences were handed out, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dismissed the case as a “minor incident” and claimed that “no gross violations” of human rights have happened since he took office in 2004.

It’s true, he was not in power when the Biak Massacre took place in 1998, in which scores of peaceful demonstrators allegedly shot at, tortured, raped and mutilated, survivors loaded onto navy ships and dumped at sea to drown, their bodies later washing up on shore. Crimes against humanity, for which, according to the findings of a citizens’ tribunal held in Sydney last month, none of the perpetrators have been held accountable.

And it’s correct that Yudhoyono was not leader in 2003 when, Amnesty International reports, nine civilians were killed, 38 tortured and 15 arbitrarily arrested during a series of police raids in Wamena, which displaced thousands of villagers, dozens later dying from hunger and exhaustion.

But he was certainly in power in October 2011, when security forces were filmed opening fire at an independence rally, reportedly killing six protestors.

And in June 2012, when political leader, Mako Tabuni “was gunned down by police in broad daylight” in a killing that allegedly involved Densus 88 (aka Detachment 88) – a counter-terrorism unit funded and trained by Australia and the U.S. following the Bali bombings. Tabuni was deputy chairperson of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), a non-violent organization, campaigning for a referendum.

A TAPOL report notes that of 20 people charged under the treason law (Article 106) in 2012, their alleged activities ranged from carrying documents associated with KNPB, or guerrilla group OPM, to organizing a celebration of the UN Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, to raising the Morning Star flag, to suspected involvement in the National Liberation Army (TPN).

Paul Barber, Coordinator of TAPOL, commented that, ‘’The security approach is still in full swing.’’

“Protests should be welcomed as a sign of a flourishing if noisy democracy, but security forces feel threatened and crack down. This approach is trapping Papua in a futile cycle of repression and fear.”

According to figures by Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests in November last year rose by 165 percent from the same period in 2012. A November report puts the total number of arrests in 2013 (up to that time) at 537 and the number of political prisoners at 71. Filep Karma is one of these prisoners of conscience, serving a 15-year sentence for raising the Morning Star flag.

Former head of Densus 88, Tito Karnavian, was appointed as Papua Chief of Police in late 2012 – a move that corresponded with a sharp increase in the number of political arrests and a spike in reports of abuse and torture among detainees.

Barber explains that activists and peaceful protestors are routinely subjected to surveillance, threats, harassment and beatings, and are sometimes killed or disappeared. “Speaking out against injustice in Papua is extremely risky. At best you may lose your dignity, at worst you will lose your liberty, your mind or even your life.”

Foreign journalists and international non-government organizations are barred from accessing West Papua. In recent years, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been expelled and Peace Brigades International forced to close its offices, when restrictions made carrying out work impossible. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also routinely denied visas. Fortunately, the spread of mobile phones is making it harder for human rights abuses to go unnoticed.

Economic “Development”: Entrenching Poverty

WikiLeaks released cables in 2010, revealing that U.S. diplomats blame the Indonesian Government for “chronic underdevelopment” in West Papua, and believe that human rights abuses and rampant corruption are fuelling unrest. Still, military ties between the two countries were renewed.

The cables also confirmed that U.S.-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which owns the word’s largest gold-copper mining venture – called Grasberg – in Papua province, has paid millions of dollars to members of the Indonesian security forces to help “protect” its operations.

Concessions for this company were granted by Indonesia in 1967, two years before the dubious independence vote. Declassified U.S. policy documents divulge its support for Indonesian rule – this arrangement meant the U.S. could carry out its plans to carve up Papua’s rich natural resources. The then-national security adviser, Henry Kissinger wrote to President Richard Nixon just prior to the vote, that a referendum on independence “would be meaningless among the Stone Age cultures of New Guinea.” Kissinger later became a board member of Freeport. He is described in a 1997 CorpWatch article as being the “company’s main lobbyist for dealings with Indonesia.”

Freeport is Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer, reportedly channeling $9.3 billion to Jakarta between 1992 and 2009. And yet, Papua, where Freeport’s Grasberg mine is located, is the poorest province in Indonesia, with one of the “most alarming food insecurity and malnutrition rates.” About 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, compared to 13 percent in East Java and the infant mortality rate in West Papua is at least twice the national average.

Survival International’s Asia Campaigner Sophie Grig told The Diplomat: ‘’The mine has caused environmental devastation by discharging waste directly into the local river, on which the local Kamoro tribe depends for drinking water, fishing and washing, and Indonesia employs soldiers to protect the area resulting in reports of grave human rights violations such as torture, rape and killings of Papuans.’’

She notes that the HIV/AIDS rate in Papua province is up to 20 times higher than the rest of the country.

Years of Indonesia’s transmigration policies have resulted in non-ethnic Papuans forming 50 percent of West Papua’s population. With development and urban influences comes a change to the traditional way of life, the influx of workers and security personnel, for example, resulting in the emergence of karaoke bars and prostitution. In 2011, the Papua AIDS Prevention Commission revealed that the area with the highest increase of cases and overall infection rate was Mimika district, which is home to the Grasberg mine.

The latest “development” project, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), is already showing signs of entrenching poverty in the region.

August 2010 marked the launch of the mega MIFEE project, which Yudhoyono announced would “Feed Indonesia, then feed the World.” The venture earmarks 1.28 million hectares in southern Papua for crops such as: timber, palm oil, rice, corn, soya bean and sugar cane. Indonesia produces roughly half of global supply of palm oil and plantation expansions in other parts of the archipelago have been linked to rapid rates of deforestation and land conflicts. A report by the Asian Human Right’s Commission exposes MIFEE as being part of a “global land-grabbing phenomenon,” which strings together powerful state and private actors in a dubious chain of collusion. The report notes that specific to MIFEE is “the military-business-political framework and the climate of political intimidation and oppression present in West Papua.” The report highlights that key players in MIFEE are all politically connected, raising serious questions about the blurring of political, security and corporate interests. The Comexindo Group, for example, is owned by Hashim Djojohadikusumo, the brother of Prabowo Subianto, the ex-special forces general and son-in-law of former President Suharto.

Customary land tenures are being wiped out without the free, prior and informed consent of local villagers. Compensation given to communities that are duped into handing over their land is beyond inadequate; lured by empty promises of greater prosperity or intimidated by a company’s security personnel – indigenous people are left hungry and with deep regret. According to Awas MIFEE, a network of activists monitoring the mega project, the average rate of compensation to an affected community is about $30 per hectare, a “pitiful” amount considering the many generations a forest can sustain.

MIFEE is touted as a source of jobs for impoverished Papuans but numerous accounts contest this. Indigenous Papuans lack the knowledge and experience to gain meaningful employment in these plantations and are given menial jobs that pay below a living wage, while lucrative positions go to migrants. A massive influx of workers is expected. Government predictions, reported by The Jakarta Globe, suggest the population of Merauke could rise from about 175,000 to 800,000 as a result of the project, making Papuans the ethnic minority in their ancestral lands.

Papuans are traditionally hunter-gatherers, living on staples of sago starch and wild meat, foraging for tropical fruit, and cultivating plots of sweet potato and other plants in small gardens. Since chunks of forest in Zanegi were cleared to make way for acacia and eucalyptus plantations, the resulting timber destined for power stations in Korea, the villagers are having a harder time finding food. A local nurse, interviewed in the documentary Our Land is Gone, points to the rise in cases of infants suffering chronic malnutrition — from one a year in the past up to a dozen since the forest was destroyed. In the first half of 2013, five infants reportedly died of malnutrition. Pollution from fertilizers and wood-chipping has also caused a surge in cases of bronchitis and asthma. A man interviewed in the documentary laments that the company, a subsidiary of Medco Group, broke its promise to leave a buffer of 1500 meters around sacred sites and cleared sago groves and destroyed birds of paradise habitat. Another villager said, ‘’We thought they had come here to develop our village but in reality they are crushing us, to put it bluntly, they are stomping on us.’’

Two UN experts have warned that moves to convert 1-2 million hectares of rainforest and small-scale farming plots to export-led crop and agro-fuel plantations in Merauke could affect the food security of 50,000 people.

Survival International’s Grig said, ‘‘It is ironic that a project designed to ensure food security is robbing self-sufficient tribal people of their land and livelihoods – which have sustained them for many generations. The same human rights problems that have plagued the communities around the Grasberg mine are now beginning to emerge in the MIFEE area too. It is an emerging humanitarian and environmental crisis.’’

The struggle continues

The West Papuan struggle for self-determination is unwavering despite half a century of Indonesian security forces brutally muzzling independence sentiments.

ETAN, a group which advocated for the independence of East Timor from Indonesian rule, astutely wrote that by branding all Papuans as enemies of the state every time they try to exercise their right to freedom of expression, and by continuing to commit gross human rights abuses, the resolve of the Papuan people to be liberated will grow stronger – Indonesia’s fears will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This month, the Free West Papua Campaign (FWPC) opened an office in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where the Mayor raised the Morning Star Flag alongside the PNG national flag in a show of solidarity. FWPC wrote on social media: ‘‘Indonesia can draw as many lines on the map as it likes, but it can never separate the spirit of the people of New Guinea. We are one people, one soul, one Kumul [bird of paradise] Island.’’

Gemima Harvey (@Gemima_Harvey) is a freelance journalist and photographer.

Up ↑

Wantok Coffee News

Melanesia Foods and Beverages News

Perempuan Papua

Melahirkan, Merawat dan Menyambut


for a Free and Independent West Papua


Memagari untuk Membebaskan Tanah dan Bangsa Papua!

Melanesia Spirit & Nature News

Promoting the Melanesian Way Conservation


The Roof of the Melanesian Elders

Eight Plus One Ministry

To Spread the Gospel, from Melanesia to Indonesia!


This is My Origin and My Destiny

Melanesia Web Hosting

Melanesia Specific Domains and Web Hosting

Sem Karoba Tawy

Patient Spectator of the TRTUH in Action

Melanesia Business News

Just another MELANESIA.news site

Sahabat Alam Papua (SAPA)

Sahabat Alam Melanesia (SALAM)

Melanesian Spirit's Club

Where All Spirit Beings Talk for Real!

Breath of Bliss Melanesia

with Wewo Kotokay, BoB Facilitator

Fast, Pray, and Praise

to Free Melanesia and Melanesian Peoples from Satanic Bondages