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West Papua Leader Optimistic about Forum Leaders Action

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General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote - RNZI

General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote – RNZI

By Giff Johnson

Majuro, Jubi — A West Papua leader is the most optimistic he has been in years about gaining support from this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

Support for West Papua human rights and self-determination has been building throughout the island region over the past year, said Octovianus Mote, the secretary general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who lives in exile in the United States.

“Last year, the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Tonga were the only ones supporting us,” said Mote, who was in Majuro to meet President Hilda Heine and government leaders in advance of the Forum summit that opens Wednesday in Pohnpei.

“This year, we have support from Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian countries.”

Key to his optimism is the strong advocacy of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who last year appointed the first government envoy for West Papua and provided government funding for his work.
In his meeting with President Heine, Mote said she “made it clear, the Marshall Islands will support us. For the Marshall Islands, human rights is the main issue.”

In the region, there are some Melanesian countries that do not have a clear policy on West Papua’s struggle for independence from Indonesia.

“But on human rights violations by Indonesia, there is no debate on it,” Mote said.

“Human rights violations and the struggle for independence are not different issues. Indonesia is violating West Papua’s basic right to self-determination.”

Mote believes their case for self-determination will finally get back to the United Nations Decolonization Committee for review. West Papua independence leaders have asked the Forum to support a call to the U.N. to review the case of West Papua.

The fact that Indonesia turned down the Sogavare government’s request for its West Papua diplomat to visit Jakarta speaks volumes about Indonesia’s attitude toward West Papua, Mote said.

“The aim is to open dialogue, but Jakarta says ‘no,’” he said, adding that island nations have been under intense pressure from Jakarta to ignore the West Papua issue.

“Indonesia’s arrogance is unbelievable,” he said.

The blunt truth, said Mote, is that West Papua is facing a policy of genocide by Indonesia, and if West Papua does not get help from the United Nations by 2020, it will be too late.

“Indonesia is using sovereignty as a means to slaughter people,” Mote said.

“Australia says this is an ‘internal issue.’ No, it is not. Sovereignty is not a reason to slaughter your own people.”

Human rights atrocities and genocide policies have been well documented by several human rights reports in recent years.

“Even the Indonesian Human Rights Commission admitted crimes against humanity (were committed by Indonesia in West Papua),” he said.

The military has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians by wiping out entire villages in remote areas with targeted military operations, he said. The Jakarta government encourages Indonesians to relocate to West Papua, and the military is paving highways and cutting down forests to make way for new settlements through West Papua.

“West Papua is so rich in natural resources,” Mote said.

“We see all these people coming in every day to fill up our country. When we try to defend our way of life and our land, we are accused of disrupting the government’s development programs.”

Despite more than a dozen nations raising concerns about human rights abuses by Indonesia during its Universal Periodic Review before the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2012, “Indonesia just ignores it,” he said.

He said access to social media and the Internet has been a turning point for West Papua.

“We praise the lord that today we have social media so we can get the word out internationally any time,” Mote said.

“It is really empowering the movement to free West Papua.”

But, he said, if there isn’t action in the next four years, it will be too late.

“2020 is the end,” he said.

“By then West Papuans will be less than 25 percent of the population, and we won’t be able to elect political leaders.”

Mote is hopeful that the Forum summit this week in Pohnpei will support taking the West Papua situation to the United Nations for review.

“Last year, the Forum agreed to send a fact finding mission to West Papua, but Indonesia wouldn’t allow it,” Mote said.

“They said it was ‘out of your mandate.’ There is no reason for the Forum to ask ‘allow us to come in’ again. It’s time to bring this to the United Nations. That’s what we want.” (*)

 

Economy

Papua Governor says will facilitate Morobe Governor to visit Freeport

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Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, visited PNG recently – RNZI

Jayapura, Jubi – Ginson Sauno, the Governor of Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) asked Papua Governor Lukas Enembe to facilitate the visit of Morobe Provincial Government to the mine site of PT. Freeport Indonesia in Timika.

He conveyed this during a dinner that held by Morobe Provincial Government in Lae City on Thursday (09/20/2018) to welcome the governor and the contingent of Papua provincial government.

“Morobe’s capital, Lae City, often hosts some national events on mining. Therefore, we ask the Governor of Papua to facilitate us visiting PT. Freeport Indonesia,” said Governor Sauno.

Morobe is crucial for PNG because it has main ports in the Pacific region, agricultural industry and plantations, as well as cattle and poultry farms, mining and other major industries. So,  it provides and distributes most of the daily needs of the national community.

Geographically, Morobe is a province located on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea with a population of around 750,000 people living in 33,705 km² area. As a result of the division of the Southern Highlands Province in 2012, the province becomes the most populous province in PNG which consists of Huon Peninsula, Markham River, Delta and the coastal areas along the Huon Bay.

In responding the request of Governor Saonu, Governor Enembe promised to facilitate a team of Morobe Province to visit the mining site of PT. Freeport Indonesia. “As far as known, we just gained 10 of 51 per cent of Freeport’s shares. So I will help to facilitate the visit of Governor Morobe and his team,” said the governor.

Besides visiting PT. Freeport Indonesia, Governor Saonu also offered Governor Enembe the teaching and learning exchange program. According to him, the main obstacle for two provinces in the collaboration is language. Therefore, Morobe Province will send their English teachers to Papua, and in turn, Papua Province will send the Indonesian language teachers.

Meanwhile, for the student exchange program, Governor Saonu offers a scholarship program for Morobe students who want to continue their higher education in Papua.

Governor Enembe has very welcomed this offer. “We have sent many Papuan students abroad for study. So we will follow up the offer from Governor Saonu soon,” he said.

He also regretted not being able to meet with Governor Saonu last year to sign the Letter of Intent (LoI) because at that time he had to report to the President of Indonesia in Jakarta.

“I also regret not being able to bring my office staff because I was just appointed as a governor for the second period a few days ago,” he added.

Regarding the demand of beef supply in PON (National Sports Event) 2020, Governor Saonu has a positive response.  “We are ready to supply meat for PON 2020. We have the largest cattle farm in PNG as well as the chicken farm. This cooperation will benefit the two provinces,” said Governor Saonu.(*)

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Latvian climber evacuated from Cartenz Peak

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Illustration of Cartenz Peak in Papua – feedyeti.com

Timika, Jubi – A Latvian, Northern European climber, Mike Cruss, suffered a broken foot and was hypothermic while climbing Cartesz Peak on Thursday (January 18th).

Public Relation Officer of Timika SAR Team, Muhammad, said after receiving the report they immediately coordinated with PT Freeport Indonesia’s Emergency Response Group to carry out the relief effort.

“We also coordinate with Timika Airforce based, the travel agent of the climbers and the Timika Community Partners Hospital,” said Muhammad, Friday (January 19), in Timika.

On Friday morning SAR rescue team went to Cartensz Peak using helicopter owned by Papua Trans Mandiri company.

The helicopter returned to Timika Airport hangar on Friday morning at around 8:30 pm with Mike Cruss.

The victim was immediately rushed to RSMM Timika by ambulance to undergo treatment.

The information collected said that Mike Cruss made the climb to Cartensz Peak with eight other climbers.

Cruss and his friends were reportedly walking from Ilaga to Cartesz Peak, one of the world’s seven highest peaks, with a height of 4,884 meters above sea level on Thursday morning.

The streets are rocky and slippery with rain and cold temperatures, leaving the victim falling and having a right leg fracture and hypothermia.

“Victims are still undergoing medical treatment at the Emergency Installation of RSMM Timika,” said RSMM Public Relations Elfinus Omaleng. (Antara)

 

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Human Rights violations in West Papua observed by Christian Conference of Asia

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Members of CCA delegation with Gereja Kristen Injili di Tanah Papua (GKI) leadership – Supplied

Jayapura, Jubi – A three-member pastoral solidarity team of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), visited West Papua, heard stories of grave human rights violations and repression against the indigenous West Papuans in their own home land.

The visit, organised by the CCA from 4 to 8 December 2017, was part of its pastoral accompaniment to churches and people who live in vulnerable situations in Asia.

During four days of intensive visits and meetings, indigenous West Papuans shared with the CCA delegation about the on-going repression and systematic human rights violations in West Papua, including the passing of laws that suppress freedom of speech and freedom of association.

“Impunity for the human rights abuses by the police and the military is a growing concern; the Special Autonomy Law is a dismal failure, as it did not meet the basic needs of the indigenous people of West Papua”, described the community leaders and civil society representatives.

“The Indonesian government systematically restricts the right to freedom of the press as well as the initiatives of West Papuans who come forward to monitor human rights violations. Many indigenous West Papuans are being arrested and detained for non-violent expressions of their political opinion. The indigenous West Papuans constantly face discrimination as well as violent attacks. Peaceful demonstrations are often dispersed by force. In many instances, non-violent participants have been arrested, detained and tortured, while others have been killed. Many prisoners and human rights activists have died while in detention. Reports of torture and ill treatment of political detainees have been increasing. Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are being violated”.

“CCA’s visit to West Papua was an opportunity to express solidarity with the struggling West Papuan indigenous people and listening to their grievances on behalf of CCA’s member constituencies and the Asian ecumenical movement”, said Bishop Dr. Daniel S. Thiagarajah from Sri Lanka, a member of CCA’s programme committee.

“A long-delayed pastoral solidarity visit to Papua was an expression of Asian churches and the CCA’s commitment to the CCA’s member church Gereja Kristen Injili di Tanah Papua (GKI), and the people of West Papua,” said Rev. Cindy Huang Shin-Yi, a young pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan and a member of CCA’s Executive Committee.

The visit of the CCA delegation included meetings with members of the Papuan Parliament, the Office of the Governor of Papua, interactions with the faculty members and students of the Izaak Samuel Kijne Theological College, GKI Jayapura Presbytery, the GKI Synod Board and staff members as well as meetings with leaders of different churches and communities in Sentani.

West Papua is a land rich in gold, copper, tropical rain forest, and coral reef. However, the majority indigenous Papuans continue to suffer as their ancestral lands have been confiscated; natural resources have been exploited by non-Papuans settled through government’s transmigration policies over the years. About 80% of the indigenous Papuans, the original sons and daughters of the land, now live in poverty without access to medical care, safe drinking water or education. They are constantly under attack by security forces.

The delegation was informed that, many indigenous West Papuans and others are infected with HIV/AIDS. The delegation visited the Walihole HIV/AIDS Clinic and the GKI Women’s Center. The church responds to the epidemic by setting up an HIV/AIDS clinic that serves the people in need of care. The church plays an active role in empowering the indigenous West Papuan women.

During the meetings, the CCA delegation was told by West Papuan community leaders that international community should come forward to implore the Indonesian government to stop human rights abuses in West Papua and to respect and protect the human dignity of West Papuans; to support the appeal of West Papuans to the government of Indonesia to open the door in order to seek a just and dignified political solution and respect the right and dignity of the indigenous people of West Papua to determine their own future through an all-inclusive Papua-Indonesia national dialogue.

“Having seen and heard the stories of the dire oppression of the indigenous people in West Papua, the CCA delegation learned first-hand about the pains of the suffering indigenous West Papuan people, and we share their pain and agony”, said Dr. Rey Ty, CCA programme coordinator for Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflict. (*)

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