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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.” (*)

 

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Planning honeymoon to Papua, Belinda Lopez was detained in Denpasar

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Belinda Lopez while being held in a room at Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar Bali – Belinda Lopez Facebook

Jayapura, Jubi – Belinda Lopez, an Australian doctoral student who conducted a study on Indonesia and Papua, was denied entry by local immigration officers in Denpasar, Bali.

She was then detained in a room at Ngurah Rai Airport from Friday midnight (08/03/2018) to Saturday afternoon (08/04/2018) when Jubi confirmed her via telephone. “I was not allowed to board before 10 pm today, so I was in detention for almost 24 hours before being deported,” said the doctoral candidate of the Cultural Study Program at Macquarie University, Sydney

She also posted about her detention on her Facebook account asking for the reason behind her arrest and deportation plan to immigration officers. However, instead of answering her question, those officers asked her if she was a journalist and has she ever done something wrong in Indonesia?

“The officer asked me at the airport ‘was I a journalist?’ They also asked if I ever had something wrong for Indonesia. I explained that I was on vacation and planned to visit some friends in Bali, Java and come to the Baliem Festival in Papua,” said Lopez who just got married last week in Sydney, Australia.

Separately, Victor Mambor, a senior journalist in Papua who profoundly involved in advocating open access for foreign journalists to Papua, confirmed to Jubi on Saturday (08/04/2018) that such cases are increasingly raising a question of the international community about the freedom of forest journalist to cover news in Indonesia.

“I don’t have information why she was detained. She was an editor in two media in Indonesia. So I think it most likely because of her status as a journalist in the past and her planning to visit Papua to watch the Baliem Valley Festival. Moreover, she was asked to leave Papua two years ago,” said Mambor. (*)

Reporter: Zely Ariane

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papuan Liberation Movement wants dialogue

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Members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua at a Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in 2013: Paula Makabori, Dr John Ondawame, Rex Rumakiek. – RNZ / Johnny Blades

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua supports the idea of dialogue with Indonesia as long as it is mediated internationally, the movement’s secretary says.

Indonesia’s government of Joko Widodo has recently made overtures to West Papuan customary and civil society leaders for dialogue over a range of issues in Papua region.

Secretary Rex Rumakiek said the push for dialogue was not a bad thing.

“But dialogue internationally, not Indonesian type of dialogue that resulted in 1969’s Act of Free Choice. That’s the type of dialogue Indonesia wants. We are not going to go back to that approach,” Mr Rumakiek said.

“We want an international dialogue and the best place to dialogue is the United Nations general assembly. Let us vote on the issue.”

The movement hoped to have questions over the legitimacy of the self-determination act under which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia debated by the UN General Assembly in the next year or two, Mr Rumakiek said.

Since being admitted to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2015 with observer status in the regional grouping, the movement has had more opportunities to engage with Indonesia, which enjoys associate member status in the MSG.

The dynamic between the two parties, however, is clearly strained, as Indonesia’s government has characterised the movement as a separatist group that does not represent Papuans.

The full MSG members – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks – have been working to facilitate dialogue between the movement and Indonesia

“We can talk direct to them with the MSG members as witnesses. That is what we call a third party” Mr Rumakiek explained.

“We cannot talk direct to Indonesia by ourselves, but with the MSG facilitating. We try to avoid other people speaking on our behalf. The MSG is trying to arrange for meetings (between the West Papuans and Indonesia’s government).”

Meanwhile, the Australia-based Mr Rumakiek said the movement was disturbed by the reports from Papua’s remote Nduga regency that Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army had exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.

Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army – which is not directly linked to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua – claimed responsibility.

Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to Nduga as part of a joint operation.

They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.

The Indonesian aerial operations over Alguru echoed previous military operations in the area, which devastated the livelihoods of Papuan villagers, Mr Rumakiek said.

“They are applying the same strategy that they bomb villages and chasing the people who live in the bush, so the after effects are much more serious than the actual destruction itself,” he said.

“Those people, when they come back to their village there will be nothing left for them to return to because the schools and clinics are destroyed and the churches are destroyed.”

But in a statement, Indonesia’s military said reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs in Nduga were a hoax.

Military forces were working with police in “law enforcement activities” in Alguru, it said. (*)

 

Source: radionz.co

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West Papua activists stopped by Solomons police

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Ben Didiomea displays the West Papuan flag as Indonesian staff try to usher him away. – Photo: Facebook/ Ben Didiomea

Solomon, Jubi – Solomon Islands police says they confiscated a West Papuan flag at the Melanesian Arts Festival to stop any provocation aimed at the Indonesian delegation.

Ben Didiomea had his flag taken by police over the weekend after he held it up in front of Indonesia’s festival stall to protest its inclusion at the event.

A video on Facebook shows Mr Didiomea – who was part of a group of demonstrators – holding up West Papua’s Morning Star flag as Indonesian officials tried to move him away from the stall.

He was then approached by Solomon Islands Police who confiscated the flag.

Mr Didiomea said he had been standing in solidarity with fellow Melanesian people of Indonesia’s Papua region, where the Morning Star is banned.

He said the Melanesian Arts Festival, which Honiara hosted over the last ten days, was not intended as an Asian festival.

Police issued a statement saying the flag was removed to prevent provocation of the Indonesians, reminding the demonstrators that it was not a political event.

Mr Didiomea, who along with two other demonstrators was questioned by police, said the inclusion of Indonesia at the Arts Festival was a political move by the Solomons government.

“Because it was a festival of Melanesia, Indonesia is not part of Melanesia. So why does it need an Indonesia stall at the arts festival? It’s a Melanesian festival, so what are Indonesia coming to arts festival?”

Changing relationship

According to Mr Didiomea, the police action was a sign that the country was forming a closer relationship with Indonesia.

The Solomon Islands government under prime minister Rick Hou has recently shown signs that it was pursuing a different policy regarding West Papua to that of the previous prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Mr Sogavare, who is now the deputy prime minister, campaigned internationally about West Papuan human rights issues. He was also supportive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and instrumental in its admission to the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015.

However after he was replaced by Mr Hou late last year, the Solomons government has been notably less vocal about West Papua human rights issues in international fora.

A visit in April by a Solomons delegation to Indonesia’s provinces of Papua and West Papua at the invitation of Jakarta was billed as having added “balance” to the government’s view on West Papuan issues.

The Solomons government told RNZ Pacific in May that it was consulting with the provinces as it formulated an official position on West Papuan human rights and self-determination issues. (*)

 

Source: radionz.co

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