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Indigenous Peoples of Papua

Māori TV Investigates Indigenous Issues in West Papua

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Karen Abplanalp with children at Kimbin village, Wamena, West Papua - Jubi

Karen Abplanalp with children at Kimbin village, Wamena, West Papua – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi/ Asia New Zealand Foundation – Assisted by an Asia New Zealand Foundation media travel grant, Māori Television’s Native Affairs producer and cameraman Adrian Stevanon and freelance photojournalist Karen Abplanalp travelled to West Papua, Indonesia in August. They were the first New Zealand television crew to visit the province in 50 years.

In the days leading up to our assignment to Papua, a lot of their work colleagues were asking where they was going and why.  Their reply was generally met with a confused look followed by “Papua? Is that in Papua New Guinea?”

The lack of knowledge and public awareness about a territory so close to Aotearoa is actually quite remarkable.

If you don’t know where Papua is, it’s located just north of Australia – the province occupying the western side of the island of New Guinea. The region is largely referred to as ‘West Papua’ by western countries, although the area is actually divided into two separate provinces of Papua and West Papua.

It’s a resource-rich land that has been governed by Indonesia since 1969. The province boasts the world’s largest goldmine, and one of the world’s largest rainforests. There has also been a bloody struggle for independence since Indonesia took over governance of the territory from the Dutch.

Since the Indonesian takeover, West Papua has also tainted by allegations of wide-spread human rights abuse, and environmental destruction.

For more than 50 years, West Papua has largely been a no-go zone for foreign journalists, and after three years of trying our Native Affairs team was finally granted a visa to enter. This was a unique opportunity that had to be accepted.

Flying into the capital of Jayapura, the thing that hit us first is the size, and the beauty of the place from above. On the ground, one of the first things I noticed was the fusion between Asia and the Pacific. The number of indigenous faces at the airport was dwarfed by those from other parts of Indonesia who now call West Papua home.

Jayapura itself is bustling metropolis, with a population of over 300,000. The level of development was not unexpected, but the size of the city sprawl was, as was the quality of the infrastructure – which was certainly better than we had anticipated. The military presence was noticeable, as too the interest from locals to our presence on the street with a TV camera.

For a place that has a somewhat violent and dangerous reputation, our experience was safe and enjoyable.

Jayapura is a great place with great people, but it’s also a place that’s grappling with some challenging social dynamics.

West Papua has an indigenous population of around two million people who speak more than 270 different languages.

They travelled to the highlands, where the vast majority of indigenous Papuans live. Their aim was visit some villages involved in a New Zealand aid project that’s focused on the growth and commercialisation of crops, in particular kumara or ‘ubi jalar’ as they call it in the Highlands.

There are many traditional and cultural similarities between Māori and the Dani people we connected with. From the way they greet guests, and cook their food, to the traditional gods they worship, the cultural parallels are clear to see.

The concerns around colonisation felt by the locals we met echo the sentiments felt here by Māori. The loss of traditional knowledge and culture was by far the greatest concern for the village elders we spoke to.

Adrian Stevanon and Karen Abplanalp describe their trip to Papua.

“As youth from the villages get educated and migrate to the cities in search of work, few are willing to return to the hard graft of village life. So much of the village way of life operates around working the land and their crops. The Indonesian influence of rice is strong, with free rice delivered to villages by the government; many villagers don’t see the value in continuing to grow their traditional crops,” said Adrian.

“We were told this can lead to a break down in the functioning of the village, and lead to issues of alcohol abuse and domestic violence.   Traveling to the highlands and connecting with some of the indigenous people of West Papua was such an incredible experience. Their hopes and dreams and dreams for their kids are the same as ours, so too are the dreams of the kids. One teenage boy we spoke to said he wanted to be a pilot, another girl wanted to be doctor so she could help the sick in her village. Both spoke about the struggles of life living in a poor community. The irony is, theirs is a resource-rich land, with a third of Indonesia GDP coming from Papua alone. Its promising to see the Indonesian government loosen their grip on the province and allowing foreign journalists to enter, we hope this continues,” Karen added. (*)

Analysis

Activists fear Indian proposal for coal reserves in Indonesian-ruled Papua

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Forest clearance and plantation development in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya (PT MJR) palm oil concession in Papua. The region is home to the world’s third-largest rainforest, but is facing intense pressure due to the logging, palm oil and mining industries. Image: Ulet Infansasti/Greenpeace

By Febriana Firdaus in Jakarta

As it seeks to diversify its sources of fuel, India is looking to get in on the ground floor of coal mining in previously unexploited deposits in Indonesian-ruled Papua.

In exchange for technical support and financing for geological surveys, officials say India is pushing for special privileges, including no-bid contracts on any resulting concessions a prospect that could run foul of Indonesia’s anti-corruption laws.

The details of an Indian mining project in Papua are still being negotiated, but Indonesia’s energy ministry welcomes the prospect as part of a greater drive to explore energy resources in the country’s easternmost provinces.

In future, the ministry hopes mining for coking coal will support the domestic steel industry, while also bringing economic benefits to locals.

Rights activists, however, fear the launch of a new mining industry could deepen tensions in a region where existing extractive projects have damaged the environment and inflamed a long-running armed conflict.

Indonesia’s new coal frontier

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Jakarta last month, joint efforts to extract and process Indonesia’s fossil fuels, including coal, were on the agenda.

India’s interest in investing in a new coking coal mining concession in Papua can be traced to 2017, when officials from the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) and Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), both Indian government institutes, met with Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in Jakarta.

The bilateral plan was announced by then-ministry spokesman Sujatmiko after the first India Indonesia Energy Forum held in Jakarta in April 2017. “The focus is on new territories in Papua,” he said.

To follow up, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources sent a team to India in early May. The current energy ministry spokesman, Agung Pribadi, who was part of the delegation, told Mongabay that officials from state-owned energy giant Pertamina, major coal miner PT Adaro Energy, and state-owned electricity firm PLN also joined the meeting.

The Indonesian team presented research outlining the potential for mining high-caloric content coal in West Papua province, and lower-caloric coal in Papua province.

According to the team’s report, only 9.3 million tons of reserves have so far been identified. By contrast, Indonesia as a whole expects to export 371 million tons of coal this year. However, the true extent of coal deposits could be larger, said Rita Susilawati, who prepared the report presented during the meeting and is head of coal at the ministry’s Mineral, Coal and Geothermal Resources Centre. “Some areas in Papua are hard to reach due to the lack of infrastructure. We were unable to continue the research,” she explained.

During the visit, Indian and Indonesian officials discussed conducting a geological survey in Papua, Agung said. India would finance the survey using its national budget. With Indonesian President Joko Widodo prioritising infrastructure investment, the energy ministry has few resources to conduct such surveys.

Expected privileges

Indonesia also anticipates benefiting and learning from India’s experience in processing coking coal.

In exchange, India expected privileges from the Indonesian government, including the right to secure the project without a bidding process, Agung said.

Indonesia denied the request, and the talks were put on hold. Approving it would have been too risky, Agung said, since the bidding process is regulated in Indonesia. “We recommend they follow the bidding process or cooperate with a state-owned enterprise,” Agung said.

India’s ministry of coal did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Energy and mining law expert Bisman Bakhtiar said there was still a chance India could get the rights to develop any resulting coal concessions without having to go through an open bidding process. “It can proceed under the G-to-G (government-to-government) scheme by signing a bilateral agreement,” he said.

This form of agreement would supersede the ministerial regulations requiring competitive bidding, Bisman explained, although he said any such agreements should emphasise that any projects must be carried out according to local laws.

There is precedent in Indonesia for G-to-G schemes bypassing the open bidding process, Bisman said. For example, multiple projects have been carried out on the basis of cooperation agreements with the World Bank and Australia. In another instance, Indonesian media mogul Surya Paloh imported crude oil from Angola via a bilateral cooperation agreement with Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol.

Draft law

A draft law currently being discussed in the House of Representatives could also smooth the path for India. It says that if there is agreement between Indonesia and a foreign government to conduct geological studies, the country involved will get priority for the contract.

However, this would still require the country to meet market prices. “We called it ‘right to match.’ If there are other parties who offer lower prices, then they should follow that price,” Bisman said.

Another option would be for India to appoint one of its local companies to work with Indonesian private sector giant Adaro or state-owned coal miner PT Bukit Asam. Such a deal could be conducted as a business-to-business (B-to-B) agreement, and would be legal according to Indonesia’s Energy Law.

Or, Indonesia could assign a state-owned firm like Bukit Asam to work with India based on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both countries.

“But all these options have a potential risk,” Agung said. “They can be categorised as collusion by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).” He said a conventional bidding process should be prioritised.

Bisman said India needed to consider other risks, such as the social and political situation in Papua. The region is home to an armed pro-independence movement and has faced decades of conflict around the world’s largest and most profitable gold and copper mine, Grasberg, owned by US-based Freeport McMoRan.

‘Land grab’

Despite the presence of the mine, Papua remains Indonesia’s poorest province, with some of the worst literacy and infant mortality rates in Asia. Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), a state-funded body, has characterised Freeport’s concession as a “land grab,” for which the original stewards of the land, the Amungme and Kamoro indigenous people, were never properly consulted or compensated.

The Indonesian energy ministry’s own research says that any project must take into account the impact on Papua’s indigenous peoples, and must factor in specific local concepts of land ownership, leadership and livelihood.

Franky Samperante, executive director of rights advocacy group Yayasan Pusaka, said he was worried about the plan. “It is way too risky,” he said, pointing to the social and environmental fallout of the Grasberg mine.

“There should be communication between the mining company and indigenous Papuans,” he said, warning Jakarta to carefully calculate the social, environmental and national security impacts.

Local indigenous people need to be meaningfully involved in the decision-making process, he said, especially since the mining would occur in and near forests where indigenous people live and gather and hunt their food. (*)

 

Source: asiapacificreport.nz

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Eliezer Awom passed away, West Papuans drawn in sorrow

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Eliezer Awom. – Jubi/Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – The passing of Eliezer Awom when on the way from Bintuni to Kaimana on Friday (15/6/2018) has left deep sorrow to the land and people of West Papua, in particular, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

ULMPWP Spokesperson Jacob Rumbiak said the ULMWP express their condolences to the family and the people of West Papua. “His body arrived at his house in Manokwari on 16 June 2018. Most of his children and grandchildren departed from Papua New Guinea and already arrived in Jayapura, except his two children who are still on the way from PNG,” Rumbiak told Jubi on Sunday (17/6/2018).

Eliezer Awom was born on 4 July 1948 in Inasi Village of Numfor Island. His late education was the junior high school before he went to Mobile Brigade training at Deplat Lido Cigombong Bogor, West Java on 29 November 1965.

“His career in Indonesian Military began from 1965 – 1971 to serve at Mobile Brigade Headquarter in Kelapa 2 Jakarta. In 1971, he assigned to Regiment 12 West Irian (Papua), Vocational School of Battalion M Jayapura,” added Rumbiak.

Based on Decree No.17 IRJA Sprint/36/II/1982 issued by Papua Police Chief, continued Rumbiak, he was appointed as the sniper course instructor for Brimobdak Irja from 1981 to 1983. In 1984, he resigned from the Indonesian Army to join the West Papua National Liberation Army/Free Papua Movement (TPN-PN/OPM).

“He served as the Commander of the West Papua National Liberation Army from 1984 to 1988. In 1989, he was shot and arrested by the Indonesian Army and underwent his life sentence in Indonesian Military Detention in Wamena before transferred to Kalisosok Detention Class I in Surabaya, East Java,” said Rumbiak.

Rumbiak further explained that in 2000, the Indonesian Government released him along with other West Papuan political prisoners. From 2002-2018, he served as the Chairman of West Papuan Ex-political Prisoners. “In 2002, he and the late John Simon Mambor represented the West Papuan Ex-political Prisoners as a member of the Papua Presidium Council in the Congress of Papuan People II. Further, in 2011, KRP III declared the Federal State of West Papua Republic (NFRPB) which he was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces cum the Minister of Defense until the end of his life.

“On 27 November – 6 December 2014, the name Eliezer Awom was noticed in the list of other greatest West Papuans to declare Saralana Declaration that born the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). For his tireless dedication, Mr Awom deserves the Best Guerrilla Star Award along with other heroes who have fought for the independence of West Papua,” he said.

Meanwhile, ULMWP Domestic Affair Working Team Markus Haluk said on Sunday, 17 June 2018, Awom’s brother and oldest son departed to Manokwari to decide whether the funeral would conduct in Manokwari or Jayapura.

“As we all know that the late Mr Awom has devoted his entire life for the independence and political sovereignty of the West Papuans. He became a role model and central figure to all of us. He was a true nationalist and great warrior of the Papuan people. Therefore let us pay him a tribute to conduct three days of national grief upon his funeral,” said Haluk. (*)

 

Reporter: Abeth You

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Activists hold a long march in Manokwari to commemorate 17 years of Wasior human rights violation 

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Caption: Demonstration of 17 years of Wasior Case – Jubi / Doc

Manokwari Jubi – Dozens of human rights activists, the families of victims, and human rights partisans held a protest to commemorate human right violation in Wasior 2011 by holding a long march in Manokwari on Thursday (13/05/2018).

Masses started to walk from the Information Office in Sanggeng to LP3BH Office in Fanindi to submit a legal complaint file to the LP3BH Director, Yan Christian Warinussy.

The Chairman of the Council of Indonesian Trade Union (GSBI) West Papua, Yohanes Akwan, in a press release declared that up to 17 years of Wasior Case occurred, the state remains to neglect the incident that occurred in 2001. 

We submit our aspirations officially as well as a request to LP3BH to continue to voice the cases of human rights violations in Papua to the international community,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the LP3BH Director Yan Christian Warinussy said this complaint was part of the respect towards the human rights. “This is a part of human rights enforcement, as well as a responsibility of human rights defender to accept this complaint.

The Indonesian Human Rights Commission once investigated the Case of Wasior in 2003, but the case closed at the level of investigation. At that time, Warinussy was a member of Wasior Human Rights Investigation. (*)

 

Reporter: David Sobolim

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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