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. (*)
West Papua National Liberation Army: It’s an attack, not execution
Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) finally spoke up regarding the murder accusation over them. They admitted being responsible for the shooting of people identified as the employees of PT. Istaka Karya that are building the Trans-Papua road.
Agus Mahuze: I wrote ‘SOS Our Earth’ using wood charcoal
Merauke, Jubi – Agustinus Mahuze, Marind native who is a member of the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) of Merauke Regency, had become public attention when the Indonesian President Jojo Widodo arrived in Merauke on Friday, 16 November 2018.
Mahuze who is also known as an environmentalist raised a paper with SoS Our Earth written on it when the president and his contingents passed the junction Lepro heading to Sota sub-district.
“I have planned it since President Jokowi visited Merauke for a couple of times but never done. So this is the first time that I can complete my plan. Moreover, it coincides with the president’s itinerary to attend the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea,” he said on Monday (11/19/2018).
Furthermore, Mahuze explained that he wrote the phrase using wood charcoal, not marker or ballpoint because he did it spontaneously. According to him, the phrase ‘SOS our Earth’ has no other meaning but to save the earth and human soul.
“What I expressed in the writing does not only in the context of Merauke but the worldwide. So when the APEC Summit takes place, it should be a boost for the world leaders,” he said.
“I also hope that President Jokowi can read it and raise this global issues related to drought and forest fires that often occurred,” he said.
The point is, he continued, the message that I want to express is about the climate change. It’s only about the environment and has no connection with the political issue.
He also mentioned that it has no connection to his position as a member of the Election Supervisory Agency of Merauke Regency. “I brought the writing paper from home and stopped at the junction Lepro. When the presidential convoy passed, I immediately took it from my pocket and lifted it. People can see it, and the convoy ran slowly. But I don’t know whether the president read it or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Election Supervisory Agency of Merauke Agency Oktavina Amtop said the agency had heard the news that Agustinus Mahuze held a poster.
“Before becoming a member of the Election Supervisory Agency, he was an activist and environmentalist. Then what he’s done does not reflect him as a member of the Election Supervisory Agency, “said Amtop. (*)
Reporter: Ans K
Editor: Pipit Maizier
In response to palm oil moratorium, five tribes in Papua visit government agencies in Jakarta
Nabire, Jubi – Representatives of five tribes from five regencies in the western and southern region of Papua visited government agencies, civil society and religious organizations in Jakarta concerning to the campaign of eight demands for the restoration of the rights of Papuan indigenous people and the protection of indigenous Papuan forests.
At present, we, the indigenous peoples and our villages as well as the customary forests where we live and make a living, are experiencing oppression, injustice and social tensions due to the development activities carried out by large-scale commercial timber plantation and logging companies. A statement from the five tribal representatives who supported by dozens of activists from different social backgrounds in that received by Jubi editors on Tuesday (11/13/2018).
Indigenous people and the land and customary forest owners are from the Mandobo tribe in Kao River, Boven Digoel Regency; Suku Malind in Muting, Merauke Regency; Mpur tribe in Kebar, Tambrauw Regency; Moi tribe in Klasouw and Klayili, Sorong Regency; Maybrat Tribe in Ikana, South Sorong Regency.
They experienced land grabbing by the company that involving the government through permit issuance and security protection which violated the principles of Free, Prior, Informed, Consent (FPIC). After the company operates, its activities result in damage and loss of forests and hamlets of community food sources.
Indigenous people also lose timber forest products, rattan, animals, medicinal plants, polluted clean water and other natural resources, which are the source of life and livelihoods of the people.
So that all threaten with loss of sovereignty and independence over knowledge and management of nature, all of which are priceless, they wrote.
In addition to environmental degradation, indigenous people who have long been guardians of land and forests experience intimidation and even violence and imprisonment. Further, they wrote that the primary right of freedom to speak, to assemble and express opinions is not guaranteed.
Referring to this condition, indigenous peoples accompanied by activists from Papuan and Jakarta civil society organizations brought eight demands to government agencies in Jakarta.
First, the government immediately acknowledges and values the autonomy and rights of indigenous Papuans on lands and forests to determine regulatory policies and programs in their customary territories.
Second, the central and regional governments review and revoke various agreements, business use rights, control permits and use of land and forest products that take place in indigenous territories, which are unilaterally granted to companies and ignore customary rights, harm the community and damage the environment, and contrary to the laws and regulations;
Third, the government conducts an environmental audit of Papua’s natural resource balance, related to the performance and impact of the activities of all large-scale plantation companies on the environment and socio-economic life, and does not provide an extension of environmental permits and fair law enforcement of the company;
Fourth, the government and companies are responsible for rehabilitating forest areas and sago hamlets affected by damage and loss, as well as providing incentives program to replace community losses;
Fifth, the government and companies to no longer use the police and military to secure the plantation areas and corporate offices in the field, stop the violent approach, practice intimidation, discrimination and physical violence in handling disputes, protests and public complaints;
Sixth, the government and companies to resolve any disputes by the legal system, customary law and customary legal institutions that exist in society wisely, peacefully, and impartially;
Seventh, the government to protect human rights defenders and environmental activists in Papua, and ensure that all perpetrators of crimes prosecuted in the public courts;
Eighth, emphasizing that Papua is not an empty land, and asking the government and companies to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in carrying out various development activities and the use of land and natural resources in Papua, by developing business based on knowledge and resources possessed by indigenous Papuans, and involving the comprehensive extent of indigenous peoples.
Responding the palm oil moratorium
The arrival of representatives of indigenous Papuans was also in response to the issuance of the Indonesian President’s Instruction No. 8/2018 about delaying and evaluating the licensing of palm oil plantations.
So far, we have discovered many problems and the critical impacts of the policies of the palm oil companies as well as their activities on the life of indigenous peoples and the environment in Papua. Operation permits and access to the land and forest areas, or the companies operate without legal documents such as AMDAL and HGU that destroy the sources of food and the environment and so on are a few examples. So what can the Ministry of Forestry and the Head of Forestry Agency in Jakarta do to follow up the regulation issued by the president (INPRES – President’s Instruction)? said Y.L Franky from Pusaka Foundation who advocate the rights of indigenous peoples when contacted by Jubi on Tuesday (11/13/2018). (*)
Reporter: Zely Ariane
Editor: Pipit Maizier
- Kisah penjual jagung rebus mengantarkan anaknya jadi polisi 12 December 2018
- Sampai kapan pembunuhan menjadi cara menyelesaikan masalah di Papua? 12 December 2018
- Pemerintah didesak selesaikan kejahatan lingkungan dan HAM 12 December 2018
- Kampanye “Mulai dari Sa” upaya turunkan kekerasan anak dan perempuan 12 December 2018
- Dinkes Bogor pulihkan trauma warga terdampak puting beliung 11 December 2018
- Bupati Keerom targetkan capaian SKPD 95 persen 11 December 2018
- Kasus Nduga: Pemda, DPRD dan gereja akan turun lihat kondisi warga 11 December 2018
- AS tangkap tokoh agama dan pegunjuk rasa di perbatasan 11 December 2018
Headlines2 months ago
When a dense forest turns into an oil palm plantation
Economy2 months ago
Freeport Indonesia disregards Papua Manpower Office’s Decree
Headlines2 months ago
Civilians are allegedly among casualties in Tingginambut gunfire
Environment2 months ago
Green economy development would be on five indigenous territories
Headlines2 months ago
Reconstruction is necessary to track the implementation of Special Autonomy in Papua
Arts & Culture2 months ago
Native languages of Jayapura Municipality threatened with extinction
Economy2 months ago
Natural resources trigger territorial annexation
Economy2 months ago
Dogiyai and Deiyai coffee crowned as ‘the Best Coffee of the Year’