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New Catholic Report Tells Stories of Murder, Kidnapping and Torture in West Papua

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Meki Elosak, Wiki Meage, Obeth Kosay an Oscar Hilago tortured by Indonesia Police at Yalengga on 2010  - Jubi

Meki Elosak, Wiki Meage, Obeth Kosay an Oscar Hilago tortured by Indonesia Police at Yalengga on 2010 – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – Allegations of recent military and police intimidation, beatings and torture, kidnapping and murder in West Papua, have been documented in a new Church report.

The report documents Muslims being radicalised in the once predominantly Christian Papuan provinces, and “very active” Muslim militias that burn down Papuan houses.

The report was compiled by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s Shadow Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua, following a visit to West Papua last month.  It has not yet been publicly released, nor comment sought from Indonesian authorities.

The report documents religious, social and economic discrimination including how the carve up of land for major development has benefited multinationals and excluded Papuans from ownership and jobs. It refers to a slow motion genocide happening 250km north of Australia and states that “the Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam”.

The report author Josephite Sister Susan Connelly was accompanied to West Papua by Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt. During their fact-finding mission they interviewed more than 250 community leaders in Japapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong.

Sr Connelly, a respected human rights advocate, likened her visit to West Papua to “stepping back twenty years when I first went to East Timor”.

“The same oppressive security presence everywhere, the same suspicion, bewilderment, frustration and sadness,” she said.

“The same fear. The same seemingly groundless hope.

“A man took my hands in his and said, ‘We are in danger’. That simple statement sums up for me the experience of the whole visit.

“The Papuan people have lost so much, and are facing erasure as a people, merely preserved as oddities of the past or artifacts to be photographed for tourist brochures.

“They realise that their land is considered more valuable than they are.”

The fact-finding team heard many accounts of alleged military and police brutality and murder.

“There is clear evidence of ongoing violence, intimidation and harassment by the Indonesian security forces,” Mr Arndt said on his return to Brisbane.

“That is especially the case for Papuans expressing their support for particular political points of view.

“Authorities want to close down any Papuan efforts to promote discussion about self-determination, and they have applied a military response to deal with the irrepressible desire of a large number of Papuans to promote their cause for freedom.”

Based on his interviews across West Papua, Mr Arndt (pictured) identified the instigators of alleged human rights violations as members of the Indonesian army including Kopassus, police including a special counter insurgency unit, Detachment 88, and Indonesia’s intelligence agency, BIN.

“Even demonstrations about social issues such as access to education get broken up by authorities,” he said.

The fact-finding team heard many examples of how the Indonesian Government pushed economic development, but ignored human rights.

“The Government has carved up the land and given it for exploitation to some 50 multinational companies,” the report said.

“The procedure is that the local government invites companies to come and gives permits.

“People are usually shocked when the companies come to sign a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with them, showing them the permit and the map.

“If the villagers don’t agree to the proposal, the company goes back to the local government and returns with the police.”

In the 1970s, ethnic Papuans accounted for 96 per cent of the population.  Today they are a minority 48 per cent, because of the rapid migration of Indonesians from other more populated islands such as Java.

The report found that Papuans were now marginalised economically at the expense of immigrants, the majority of whom are Muslims. The report said there was “a movement for Muslims from Indonesia to replace Papuans in every sector”.

“The Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam. Many mosques are being built everywhere. They want Papua to be a Javanese Malay nation,” the report said.

“Radicalisation is happening in Papua, with some militias very active near the border with PNG.

“They burn down the Papuan houses. They are recruited as illegal loggers. Their camps and logging are well protected by the military.

“The military are certainly killing the people, and closed access to opportunity to Papuans in all areas of life constitutes a slow motion genocide.

“The general opinion encountered was that Indonesia is a total failure regarding Papua and is just another coloniser.

“The Indonesian Government does not give opportunities to Papuan people or protect them.

“It was said that most Church leaders try to deal with the problems one by one, but the whole picture should be looked at as a series of policies designed to overcome the Papuan people.

“In every sector of government the system is composed of Indonesian tactics to destroy the Papuans.

“Beatings and torture are used, but also the economic aspects of lack of opportunity, the sidelining of the indigenous peoples, the taking over of land by companies … are part of the plan.”

Accusations in the report

– A young, wealthy businessman poisoned in 2015. He had financially supported building an office for the National Committee for West Papua, an independence-oriented group. He also funded Papuans being sent to international conferences.
– A Papuan woman activist arrested in 2015 by police for holding a prayer service in support of an international conference in London. She and her group were interrogated for five hours.
– In January this year, 27 Papuan palm oil workers were allegedly tortured by the Indonesian army’s special force Kopassus. The men had previously complained to their company bosses after they had not been paid for two months.
– A man aged 35 who used to work for Papua’s Freeport gold mine was kidnapped in 2015, killed, and his body thrown on the street. There was no sign of torture and the police told his family that it was an accident.
– Police and military broke up community activities such as prayer meetings.
– In September 2015, 18-year-old Daniel Bowgow was killed. His father was a local prayer meeting leader.
– People reported they couldn’t move freely at night to search for food for fear of being kidnapped. The military and police use Papuan informers to let them know of people’s movements.

(Mark Bowling)

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Journalist turns tales of undercover Papuan reporting into love novel

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Aprila Wayar poses with her latest novel Sentuh Papua which chronicles a Dutch journalist’s undercover reporting of Papua and is based on actual events – Bambang Muryanto/Jakarta Post

By Bambang Muryanto

A Dutch freelance journalist, Rohan (a pen name), had been interested in the political turmoil in Papua for years. In 2015, his application for a journalistic visa was denied. The 32-year-old then decided to embark on an undercover reporting assignment in the country’s easternmost province.

For 153 days, he observed the way local people lived, met with leaders of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the jungle, enjoyed the beauty of Papua’s nature and met Aprila Russiana Amelia Wayar, or Emil, a local journalist who later became his girlfriend.

It was Emil who wrote about Rohan’s adventures in Papua and their love story in the novel Sentuh Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Hari, Satu Cinta (Touch Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Days, One Love).

In the novel, Rohan’s character said foreign media agencies in Jakarta refused to publish his report on Papua, worrying that the government would revoke the visas of their Jakarta correspondents.

Emil recently launched her 374-page novel in a discussion forum organised by the Alliance of Independent Journalists’ (AJI) Yogyakarta chapter and the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH).

Emil has been in Yogyakarta since early this year to publish the book. She chose Yogyakarta because she had spent time there as a student at Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW).

The 38-year-old author said she initially intended to write a journalistic piece that was rich in data and interviews. She used the character of Rohan to describe the lack of press freedom in Papua, human rights violations in the province and challenges to OPM’s quest for self-determination.

‘Easier to understand’

“I then chose [to write a] novel to make it easier for Papuans and Indonesians to understand the [province’s] issues,” she said.

Through the book, Emil, who used to work for independent media platform Tabloid Jubi, was determined to represent the other side of Papua’s story vis-a-vis mainstream reporting on the province, which she deemed mostly biased.

She said many journalists covering cases of human rights abuses in Papua only interviewed security personnel and neglected the victims.

“Journalists writing about Papua have to cover both sides,” she said.

However, she realised both the challenge and risks that come with reporting Papua as a journalist, as she herself often received threats and harassment while doing her job.

In her book, the characters Rohan and Amelia, who is based on herself, are chased by a group of people armed with machetes.

According to Reporters Sans Frontier’s (RSF) latest World Press Freedom Index, Indonesia ranks 124th out of 180 countries – the same position as last year.

Open access promise

The Paris-based group highlighted the restriction of media access to Papua and West Papua as a factor that has kept Southeast Asia’s largest democracy at the bottom of the list.

The condition prevails despite President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s campaign promises to open access to Papua for foreign journalists.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Press Council categorised Papua and West Papua as “medium/relatively free” in its 2017 press freedom index.

Yogyakarta-based lawyer Emmanuel Gobay said Emil’s book, despite being published as fiction, was a good reference for those who want to understand Papua from both the local and professional perspective.

“This novel reflects the state of press freedom in Papua,” he said.

The novel, which Emil wrote in eight months, is her third after Mawar Hitam Tanpa Akar (Black Rose Without Its Stem) and Dua Perempuan (Two Women), both of which told stories about social issues in Papua.

Emil was the first indigenous Papuan novelist invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) in Bali in 2012. She plans to write a fourth book in the Netherlands, where she is currently undergoing medical treatment for a heart condition. (*)

Bambang Muryanto is a Jakarta Post journalist and an Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) advocate.

 

Source: asiapacificreport.nz

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MRP urges the Police investigating Goo’s shooting

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An illustration of Dogiyai residents staged action to reject all acts of violence in Dogiyai DPRD Office- Jubi / Abeth You

Paniai, Jubi – The Papuan People’s Assembly urged the Papua Police Chief to investigate the shooting over a resident Geri Goo in Moanemani that was allegedly committed by the police member from the Kamuu Sector.

“The shooting incidents happened repeatedly. Legal action clearly should be held. Therefore we ask the Papua Police Chief to investigate this case thoroughly,” said an assembly member of Religious Division Niko Degey to Jubi on Friday (4/5/2018).

He claimed these unceasing shooting incidents indicate that as law enforcement, the Police never change their mindset and paradigm. Degey, who is also the coordinator of SKKI GKI Kingmi of Paniai District, asked the Police for not only investigating who the perpetrators are but the intellectual actors as well, including the police commanders at Moanemani Police Sector and Nabire Police Department.

“This investigation will become evident to the public that even the police are not immune from the law. It is also to respect the victim’s family in Dogiyai,” he said.

Meanwhile, Papuan legislator Laurenzus Kadep also urged the police to investigate this case immediately. Kadepa, who is a member of Law and Human Rights Division, said he expects the victim Geri Goo to not experiencing the same situation as other violation victims in Papua that is the case has never resolved.

“The police must investigate it immediately and reveal who the perpetrator is and conduct a legal process,” said Kadepa. (*)

 

Reporter: Abeth You

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Solomons delegation to Indonesia sought balance

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Solomon Islanders have displayed strong support for West Papuans, including in this 2015 march through the streets of Honiara in support of a West Papuan bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group – Photo: Supplied

Solomon, Jubi – A Solomon Islands civil society worker says a delegation from his country which visited Indonesia sought a balanced view on West Papua human rights issues.

 

Wilfred Luiramo was one of several civil society people selected by the government to visit Indonesia, including West Papua and Papua provinces, last week.

 

Mr Luiramo said he wasn’t travelling on behalf of the group Forum Solomon Islands International, which he is chairman of, but rather as an individual civil society worker.

He said the Solomons government of Rick Hou was seeking a balanced approach on human rights in Papua region.

“Our relationship with Indonesia must be built and the human rights issue in West Papua must not be forgotten. It has to be part of the document. And generally, looking through it, Solomon Islands as a Melanesian country, and the West Papuan issue is very sensitive to us, we still feel that more can be done,” said Wilfred Luiramo.

Wilfred Luiramo said the approach on Papua being taken by Mr Hou’s leadership was different to that of the previous leadership of Manasseh Sogavare.

Of the rights situation, he said Papuans had different views on the issue of human rights abuses.

“Some propose that these things happen. Some say that these things happened previously, in the past,” he explained.

“So we have been collecting different views from them. All of them are not having the same view, but the issue remains that we try to make a balanced document out of all the informations we get.

Mr Luiramo said delegation members were yet to finalise their reports on the information garnered from the visit.

“We met with even the military generals, the governors and the CSO (civil society organisation) people, and tried to ask them what is their view… we keep trying to get a balance on it.”

He noted that some people saw the rights situation in Papua as having improved.

“Because Indonesia as a country is just coming to democracy in 1998, full democracy. Previously it was military-controlled.

“So they said there are improvements over time, and even some of the leaders told us, one of the common sayings, that ‘we are not a perfect country’ which is true.

“They are changing over time, and even some of the indigenous say that there are improvements within the human rights issue,” Mr Luiramo said, adding that some Papuans conveyed that they wanted independence from Indonesia. (*)

 

Source: radionz.co

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