Column – Australia West Papua Association
A lot of media coverage in relation to West Papua in the past month particularly around the three West Papuans who occupied the Australian consulate in Bali and Tony Abbots visit to Indonesia.
Summary of events in West Papua for October 2013
A lot of media coverage in relation to West Papua in the past month particularly around the three West Papuans who occupied the Australian consulate in Bali and Tony Abbot’s visit to Indonesia. Markus Jerewon, Yuvensius Goo and Rofinus Yanggam scaled the two-metre high fence of the Australian compound in Bali’s Renon district on Sunday morning the 6 October. They called on the Abbott government to pressure Indonesia to release all Papuan political prisoners, open West Papua to foreign journalists and for the Indonesian government to treat them like human beings. The Guardian Australia originally broke the story http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/06/west-papuans-australian-consulate-bali An open letter to the people of Australia from three West Papuans handed to consulate staff in Bali at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/06/west-papuan-open-letter-australia
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) denied that the Australian consul general in Bali threatened to call in the Indonesian military and police to expel the three West Papuan students. However, in an ABC report Associate Professor Clinton Fernandes had a different interpretation of events. In the ABC report “He says he heard a phone conversation in which an Australian official threatened the trio, leading them to fear for their lives if they were handed over to Indonesian authorities”. “They had the phone on while they were being berated by whoever it was, with an Australian accent,” he told ABC News Breakfast. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-07/consul-general-denies-threatening-west-papuan-activists/5002592
AWPA joined in the chorus of voices raising concerns about the treatment of the three West Papuans. AWPA letter to the Consul-General Mr Brett Farmer in Bali a at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/media-release-concern-west-papuans-were.html
Prime Minister Abbott who was in Bali for the APEC conference made the usual statement we have come to expect from Australian governments i.e. he reiterated his support for Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua. He also insisted the activists left the consulate of their own accord after a “lengthy discussion” and warned Australia would not be party to protests aimed at undermining Indonesia’s authority over West Papua. “We have a very strong relationship with Indonesia and we are not going to give people a platform to grandstand against Indonesia,” On his first visit to Indonesia the Prime Minister said the ”government of Australia takes a very dim view, a very dim view indeed, of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grandstanding against Indonesia. We will do everything that we possibly can to discourage this and to prevent this.”
An AGE editorial raised concerns about these statements from the prime minister “The Age is concerned about the treatment the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has indicated his government will afford to anyone protesting about conditions in the provinces of West Papua. Mr Abbott has said his government takes ”a very dim view indeed of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grandstanding against Indonesia [and] we will do everything that we possibly can to discourage this and to prevent this”. He says that ”on the subject of sovereignty, we’re fair dinkum about doing what we can to help Indonesia in every way”.
Mr Abbott seems to think, wrongly, that his government is obliged to stifle dissent against a friendly neighbour. He is overreaching on this, and unnecessarily so. It is up to Indonesia to deal with political dissent within its borders, but when its response involves human rights abuses – as has occurred too often in Papua and West Papua – Australia should be strong enough to voice its objection and not pass it over as none of our business. Human rights are an international responsibility. If the Abbott government believes it should remain officially silent on such matters, then it surrenders any right to impose silence on others who do protest”.
Pedalling for Papua
CPACS and the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) are hosting Jeremy Bally and his show “Pedalling for Papua” in the CPACS poster gallery on November 12 at 6pm. Full details at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/jeremy-pedalling-for-papua-is-coming-to.html
The former Liberal MP Judi Moylan hit out at the Abbott government over its treatment of the seven West Papuan asylum seekers deported to PNG after arriving in the Torres Straits. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/22/former-liberal-attacks-treatment-papuans#start-of-comments
Melanesian Spearhead Group
98 international and Pacific NGOS, academics, politicians and individuals have written to the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) voicing support for the West Papuan application to join the MSG. Those behind the letter – including organisations from Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, India and the USA – have welcomed the leadership of the MSG on the West Papua issue.
A report on the ABC in relation to the MSG http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/asia-pacific/praise-for-msg-leadership-on-west-papua/1205428
Crackdown on peaceful rallies
The Police banned another rally called by the KNPB and NFRPB for the19 October. The rally was to commemorate the 3rd Papuan People’s Congress which was held in Oct 2011. The 3rd Papuan People’s Congress was held between the 17 and 19 October. Shortly after the Congress and as part of a celebration, the Morning Star flag was raised and a declaration of Independence read out. Indonesian security forces accompanied by armored vehicles immediately moved in to break up the gathering firing live rounds resulting in six people been killed. The security forces also used batons, bamboo poles and the butts of rifles during the arrest of up to 300 delegates resulting in serious injuries. Five of the delegates were charged with treason. Forkorus Yaboisembet, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agust M. Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii, and Dominikus Surabat,
However, despite the ban the rallies went ahead. A heavy security presence disrupted the peaceful rallies across West Papua .In Fak-Fak 22 people were arrested while going to commemorate the anniversary of the 3rd Papuan peoples congress. A heavy security presence in Sentani at the grave of chief Theys Eluay blocked the commemoration. Local media (Tabloid Jubi) reported that the security forces consisted of Police patrol cars and motorcycles, water canon, trucks from Brimob including two Brimob logistics trucks. http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/media-release-indonesian-security.html
Rallies also took place throughout West Papua on the 16 October. The rallies were called to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the IPWP, to urge the United Nations sent a team of representatives to West Papua and to thank the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Moana Kalosil Carcasses for Vanuatu’s support. Photos of the rally in Wamena at http://knpbnews.com/blog/archives/3018 and in Yahukimo http://knpbnews.com/blog/archives/3006
After the rally in Kaimana 3 people were arrested, shots fired, various items confiscated and property damaged. According to the police they were investigating a previous murder case although the KNPB say its general intimidation to keep the West Papuan people in fear. http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/arrests-after-rally-in-kaimana-on-16th.html
The Indonesian House of Representatives agreed to the formation of 65 new administrative areas, including the creation of eight new provinces. There are three new provinces proposed for West Papua. South Papua, Central Papua and Southwest Papua. An article in the Jakarta Post (26 Oct) pointed out that various academic and government studies have shown that the expansion of new cities, regencies and provinces very often has an adverse impact on local economies and politics.
In relation to West Papua it is often seen as a case of divide and rule by Jakarta. The governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, has strongly rejected the plan to split the province, as the planned creation of a south Papua province and a central Papua province did not follow the proper procedures. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/10/30/papua-gov-rejects-new-provinces.html
Indonesian Army to Build Roads in Papua
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Army Chief of Staff General Budiman said his troops are about to commence a 14-road project in Papua. According to the, a special team of three battalions from the army is deployed in Papua. “They will be joining another battalion from Papua,” said the General. Budiman will also send all vehicles and equipments needed to construct the roads in Papua. There will be in total of 420 heavy-equipments delivered to Papua next week. When both the army and equipments are in place, the project will begin by cutting down the thick forest. However, the Chief of Staff stated his concern on weather, fearing the Papua’s sky will ‘interfere’ the already-difficult assignment. The project itself is not a part of the Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B). The Deputy at Commission I at the House of Representatives (DPR) Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said in defense that the road construction option can help shorten bureaucracy, as it was offered in UP4B. INDRA WIJAYA (Tempo.co 25 Oct)
Green Party says New Zealand should be facilitating peace talks in Papua
The New Zealand Green Party says New Zealand should be facilitating peace talks in Indonesia’s Papua region rather than sending police advisors. The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, announced last week that New Zealand would resume a community policing programme in eastern Indonesia, including Papua and West Papua. It would involve New Zealand police providing training, mentoring and encouraging community engagement. http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=79809
TNI Joins Governor’s Papua Invitation
Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and the top Indonesian military officer extending an invitation to foreign journalists and nongovernmental organizations to visit West Papua. But as the Jakarta Globe article points out “there won’t be many bags packed just yet because an invitation has yet to be issued by the central government in Jakarta, which keeps a tight leash on information coming out of the island provinces of Papua and West Papua. Foreign journalists wishing to visit the area report that they are required to apply to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which convenes a weekly inter-departmental meeting to assess requests. The meeting, which is said to consider input from TNI and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), rarely issues its approval”. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/tni-joins-governors-papua-invite/
Opinion pieces/Press releases/reports etc.
A large number of opinion pieces/articles etc. on West Papua in the past month indicate a growing interest in West Papua.
A new report from the AHRC on West Papua
INDONESIA: ‘The Neglected Genocide’ – a report detailing series of abuses in 1977–1978 in Papua is launched
Australia ‘neglecting UN obligations’ by deporting West Papuan asylum seekers
West Papuan human rights tragedy mocked by new Australian PM
Papua: Indonesia’s Forbidden Island
Tony Abbott clashes with senators over West Papua comments
Papua ‘stunt’ angers senator
‘Strong ties’ with Indonesia should mean ending human rights abuses
All Party Parliamentary Group for West Papua re-launches
Abbott walking tricky tightrope on diplomacy
Abbott Puts A Gag On Australia
Ending our pragmatic complicity in West Papua
A large number of new postings concerning the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)