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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. (*)

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West Papua National Liberation Army: It’s an attack, not execution

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West Papua Liberation Army led by Egianus Kogoya – IST

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.

“We are responsible for that. There was gunfire, and it’s an attack, not execution as stated by the Indonesian security forces,” the spokesperson of TPNPB Sebby Sambom told Jubi by phone on Wednesday (5/12/2018) denying the statement released by the Indonesian Army.
Earlier, the Chief of Cenderawasih Military Public Affairs Colonel Muhamad Aidi that the employees of PT. Istaka Karya executed in a location identified as Puncak Kabo.
Meanwhile, the West Papua National Liberation Army Commander for Region III Ndugama Egianus Kogoya continued Sambom, gave an order to his man Pemne Kogoya to attack several people in the Aworak River, Yigi River and Military Post at Mbua Sub-district.
Furthermore, he said the liberation army had been observing those who worked nearby both rivers. “They are soldiers, Indonesia Army Corps of Engineers, not civilians,” continued Sambon who’s in Papua New Guinea during the telephone.
In 2016, the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing contracted the Army Engineer as a working partner to build the Trans Papua Road. This agreement then followed by the decree issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through Presidential Decree No.40 of 2013 which became a reference for military involvement in the construction of the Trans-Papua Road which earlier named Accelerating Development Road of Papua and West Papua (P4B).
The Army engineers deployed a total of 394 personnel that consist of Detachment-10 and Detachment-12 to work on the roads along Wamena-Habema and Habema-Mbua. Meanwhile, Battalion-18 build the roads along Mbua-Mugi and Mugi-Paro, and Battalion-14 build the roads along Paro-Kenyam and Kenyam-Mamugu. Each group has 107 personnel.
Under observation of Liberation Army
For approximately three months, the West Papua National Liberation Army has observed the workers of bridges construction at both Aworak and Yigi rivers and Mbua Military Post to examine their movement.
“Those who work along the Aworak River, Yigi River are purely soldiers of Engineers Detachment. The liberation army also knew that those who work on the trans-road and bridges construction project along the roads of Habema, Juguru, Kenyam until Batas Batu are military,” said Sambom.
Furthermore, according to him, even though these men dressed in civilian clothes or not wearing the uniform, they are still military. He also said that the liberation army is not a group of criminal as often called by the Indonesian Security Force. The West Papua National Liberation Army is fighting for the independence of West Papuan nation that aimed to liberate West Papua from Indonesia.
 “We have delivered a statement of war at the beginning of 2018,” he said.
As quoted by tirto.id, the National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said 20 people confirmed victims of murder in Nduga Regency Papua that consist of 19 employees of PT. Istaka Karya and a soldier.
“The temporary news reported 20 [victims], said Karnavian during a press conference held at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta on Wednesday (05/12/2018).
Indonesian Propaganda
In the meantime, Benny Wenda, the Chairman of ULMWP, separately told Jubi (5/12) that the news of the workers’ massacres in Nduga as part of Indonesian propaganda.
“That’s my assumption. It happened due to the broader support from the Indonesian people to Papuans and their nation that showed on the last 1 December. So, Indonesia attempted to show the Indonesian people that Papuans are brutal and able to do massacre. This incident cannot be confirmed yet, but the narrative of ‘massacre’ has widely spread through social media,” said Wenda.
According to him, throughout 2018, before the ‘massacre’ of the bridge construction workers in Yigi Sub-district and the attack on the military post of Battalion Infantry-755/Yalet, there were at least several accusations launched by the Indonesian Army, including the shooting incident at Kenyam Airport, Nduga on 25 June; confinement and sexual violation against dozens of teachers and paramedics from 3 – 17 October in Mapenduma Sub-district, Nduga Regency.  (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Environment

Agus Mahuze: I wrote ‘SOS Our Earth’ using wood charcoal

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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

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In response to palm oil moratorium, five tribes in Papua visit government agencies in Jakarta

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Representatives of indigenous peoples from five districts in Papua when visiting the KLHK office, Tuesday (11/13/2018) and submitting eight demands for Jubi / Tigor H

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.

Eight demands

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

 

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