West Papua Report July 2015: New Indonesian group, breakthrough at MSG, U.S. State Dept. report, record arrests, prisoner release blocked, more
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West Papua Report

This is the 134th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, write to etan@etan.org. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2015/1507.htm.

The Report leads with PERSPECTIVE, an analysis piece; followed by UPDATE, a summary of some recent news and developments; and then CHRONICLE which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a PERSPECTIVE or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. We also welcome suggestions of resources and analysis to for listing in the CHRONICLE section. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For ongoing news on West Papua subscribe to the reg.westpapua listserv or visit its archive; the list is also available on Twitter.


This edition's PERSPECTIVE is an exclusive interview with Zely Airane of the #PapuaItuKita on creative ways they are raising issues involving West Papua in Indonesia.

In UPDATE: This Issue highlights the recent Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in the Solomon Islands where the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP) was given observer status. ULMWP's Secretary General Octo Mote talks about the implications of the decision for West Papua. WPAT's interview with Mote is followed by Indonesian and other reactions to the summit, which also upgraded Indonesia's status to associate member of the regional group. The report then analyzes oversights in the State Department's recent human rights report. Also in this issue,
Papuans Behind Bars report on a new high in arbitrary detentions; the Indonesian parliament blocked plans to release more Papuan political prisoners; and confusion continues on foreign journalist travel to West Papua

In CHRONICLE: A retired Indonesian General says TNI actions in West Papua violate human rights. An NGO criticized plans for a new military command (Kodam) in West Papua. A highly-regarded Australian journalist has described "ignorance, corruption and racism" in West Papua in a series of articles, and a long-term observer analyzes President Widodo's recent visit to the region.


#PapuaItuKita: Indonesian Grassroots for West Papua
A West Papua Report Interview with Zely Ariane

What is #PapuaItuKita?

We established #PapuaItuKita (We Are Papua, PIK) in December 2015, not as what it has now become but just as a bunch of us who wanted to do something to respond to the Paniai killings and put pressure on Jokowi. We started it just as a tagline, using the hash tag strategy that was successfully being used by activists in other countries, like "I'll ride with you" in Australia and against police brutality in the U.S. We wanted the President to speak out about the four teenagers being killed, which was so outrageous with everyone knowing who killed them but nothing being done about it. I talked with Vero, a member of LBH, and Bernard, a Papuan based in Jakarta, and the three of us decided to begin with a social media posting to call for a demo.

Surprisingly around 40 people turned up. We just used online posters and Facebook, and we only knew about two-thirds of the people who showed up. This encouraged us and we followed up by organizing a candlelight vigil. It's the first such initiative since activities [by NAPAS (National Papua Solidarity)], stalled around a year and a half ago, and this time it has been lead by Indonesians from the start instead of Papuans and that's important. It's a mix of NGO activists, young people who are grassroots activists, people involved in land rights struggles. There are still many people who were involved in NAPAS, but also others. There is less of the left movement and organizations, but it's not that they don't support the issue. Because this is an all-volunteer effort, people need to be able to spare their own time to be involved.

The face is Indonesian rather than Papuan and that's important.

Why do you think it is important for Indonesians to be active on Papua?


The Indonesian public is very blind towards Papua. The issues of Aceh and Timor were very much on the table, people talked about it. But not with Papua. It's only been the government version, and the alternative version has only been the human rights issue.

The people of Indonesia don't know much about Papua - there are still stereotypes. We want to make a bridge between Papua and Indonesia, because Indonesians have a role in everything that happens there.

We also want to make our approach very popular, because we saw in the last election many young people voted for Jokowi, but at the same time they were very critical about the process of voting. They are very critical and it's important that we reach out to them. We need to build this layer of discourse and we need a playful atmosphere to draw this out. We just want to create the atmosphere in Indonesia and what Papuans do is up to themselves. They are already doing their work anyway and don't need our help for that. So we want to help the Papuans by speaking to our nation instead.

What are the difficulties in raising public awareness in Indonesia around human rights in Papua?

The Indonesian public is very blind towards Papua. The issues of Aceh and Timor were very much on the table, people talked about it. But not with Papua. It's only been the government version, and the alternative version has only been the human rights issue. This is good, but it's not enough. There is also the nationalism issue.

One colleague from Solidamor [Solidarity for Timor-Leste Peace Settlement] in Yogyakarta told me that for him, they saw Timor-Leste under Indonesian occupation as more obvious because it was a "real" invasion in 1975. They saw it different for Papua, even if the events in the 1960s are very contested by Papuans.

#papuaitukita launch in Jakarta


#PapuaItuKita launch event in Jakarta, June 2015. Photo via Facebook.

It's not the same strength as Aceh and Timor so the public hasn't been the same. Because of this I hope the ULMWP [application for membership in the MSG, see below] will help shock the Indonesian public, because they need to be shocked. Like what the CNRT and SIRA did for Timor and Aceh.

What do you see as an acceptable solution to the conflict in Papua?

We don't have any prejudice on the independence issue. A common response with students or with activists is that they hope Papua will not separate from Indonesia, but we don't really care about that. We haven't had a discussion on what we see as an acceptable solution, but what comes out of our discussions is that there is no individual inside PIK who says that they hope Papua will not separate from Indonesia.

At this time we are just raising public awareness, we don't have a view on the future for Papua at the moment. We are united in our view that there needs to be change in policy, in terms of military, natural resources, to open political space. But we're not allergic to the political issue so we can continue looking at this.

Are there any prospects for changing Indonesia's policy on self-determination in the region?

Not from above. It's very unfortunate for Papua. This issue so far has only been brought up at the national level through Muridan S. Widojo and his team [of LIPI, who passed away in March 2014] through the Road Map for Papua. That is the only "respectable", the highest policy process that has addressed it; no other national figures do that. With Aceh and Timor there were many academics and others who would present it, but with Papua it's only Papuans.

Call to send coins to Komnas HAM to support human rights investigations.


#papuaitukita calls for coins to be sent Komnas HAM after the human rights commission said didn't have enough funds to  investigate human rights violations in Papua. Photo via Facebook.

Two months before Muridan died, he told me they were stuck in the dialog process, not because the dialogue itself, but because there was no willingness from the SBY government. The government is stuck in the mindset of Harga Mati NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia or Death]. It's not that they can't understand the problems, but they've already formed their view. Seeing it from NKRI doesn't work, but that's the view that everyone in government has. If they don't have this view, they become marginalized.

Change needs to come from below. This can happen from Indonesia or from Papua -- either way. We want to create the atmosphere to talk about these things. Our first step is to mock NKRI Harga Mati, to say we love our country, but we don't need to do it in such a hard way. We want it so people can speak freely about their national identity, because there is a problem with their national identity. We want to make nationalism into a simple discourse.

For me personally, I look at what Joshua Oppenheimer did, to open the discourse on 1965. There were over 400 screenings nationwide of The Look of Silence. I want to do the same thing with Papua. Whatever term we want to use, the discourse needs to be opened. It's very dangerous the way it is now.

If there's nothing we can do in the next five years, Papuans will become like the Aborigines in Australia. The [indigenous] population has decreased so much already.


Change needs to come from below. This can happen from Indonesia or from Papua -- either way. We want to create the atmosphere to talk about these things. Our first step is to mock NKRI Harga Mati, to say we love our country, but we don't need to do it in such a hard way. We want to make nationalism into a simple discourse.

How do you see the relationship between President Jokowi and the security forces developing, both generally and in the context of West Papua particularly? Does the President have the respect and full cooperation of the military, police and intelligence services

I don't have any authority to talk about this precisely because I don't observe it that closely. But you can see what [West Papuan journalist] Victor Mambo says in any forum that the key to any Papua policy is to have control in Papua. The government can say anything, but they have their own way of operating in Papua itself. All the government bodies act differently there, separated from Jakarta.

But from what I see now, it is very obvious that Jokowi doesn't have any control. With the Paniai killings, he gave a speech saying there shouldn't be any violence, and right after that there was more violence. We can't say whether it was done on purpose, but at the least it shows he has no control.

Also, look at the discourse on establishing a Kodam in Manokwari and Brimob in Wamena. He didn't have a say on this. I don't think he has an understanding of how to deal with the problems differently than the previous government. He still approaches it as if there is a change in people's economic welfare the problems will be overcome but this won't work. On the [access for foreign] journalists it's the same issue. It's like there's no control, and it's a pity.

Find #PapuaItuKita on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Papua-Itu-Kita and Twitter https://twitter.com/PapuaItuKita


West Papua Report MSG Special

ULMWP Scores Diplomatic Victory at MSG Summit
The leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on June 26 summit responded to a West Papua application for membership by granting the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP) observer status.

The decision constituted a significant diplomatic victory for West Papua, although the observer status fell short of the full member status that Papuans have been seeking since 2014. The victory was also shadowed by the MSG summit's decision to accord "associate" status to Indonesia. The MSG also described the ULMWP as representing only Papuans living outside of West Papua under the "regional and international organizations category." The MSG also stipulated that Indonesia is to be represented by the governors of five provinces said to have Melanesian populations: Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara (which includes West Timor). (See MSG communique here.

Membrs of the ULMWP delegation at MSG meeting in Solomon Islands.


Members of the ULMWP delegation at MSG meeting in Solomon Islands. Photo from freewestpapua.org.

While the victory was only partial it was nonetheless celebrated in West Papua where popular support for the ULMWP campaign was widespread and enthusiastic. The ULMWP reportedly garnered more than 55,000 Papuan signatures  in support of the effort to win MSG membership status. The diplomatic achievement solidifies efforts by the ULMWP - which is a coalition of the
West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL); Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFPB) and National Parliament for West Papua (NPWP) - to provide united leadership to the movement for independence, a movement that has in the past suffered from a diffuse and contested leadership and the absence of a united strategy.

ULMWP Secretary General Octo Mote was invited to speak to the plenary MSG meeting June 26. (See below for an exclusive interview with Mote.)  He told the plenary that the ULMWP welcomed the decision to accord observer status to the West Papua group. He said that while the decision fell short of full membership status, "a door has opened to us. We will sit across a table from Indonesia as equal." Mote also noted subsequently that the new diplomatic status would enable the ULMWP to focus international attention on the continuing human rights abuse in West Papua.

Indonesia Reacts

The chief of the Indonesian delegation at the MSG summit reacted furiously to ULMWP Secretary General's speech before the June 26 MSG plenary.

In his speech, Mote told the assembled delegates that the people of West Papua were united under the ULMWP leadership and that many of the ULMWP supporters had been tortured, imprisoned and even killed for their peaceful advocacy. Mote stated that the Papuan nation has been struggling for 53 years against Indonesian "colonial rulers" and added that in the struggle "at least 500,000 have been killed." He noted that Indonesian crimes against the indigenous peoples of West Papua had been widely recognized in various international and regional fora including at the European Union, the UN Human Rights Council. the Pacific Forum and the MSG itself.

"Ten years ago, Juan Mendes, UN special rapporteur for the Prevention of Genocide, mentioned that West Papua was one of ten countries around the world that could be extinct unless there were international attention....  In the next 5 years, Papuans will be less than 29 percent of the population in our own land. Our Melanesian identity, our Christian identity is under threat of a large wave of migrants from Indonesia and Muslim-dominated Asia," Mote added.

The Indonesian delegation released a statement denouncing the speech, saying:

"We reject all accusations that are unfounded and false submitted by an organization calling themselves ULMWP. We have absolutely no interest in taking advantage of this forum in things that are not productive and constructive."

In a media conference following the meeting, the ULMWP questioned the process by which Indonesia received associate membership status."We want to know whether Indonesia government has followed the same process to apply for MSG membership or not?" Mote asked.

Indonesian crimes against the indigenous peoples of West Papua had been widely recognized in various international and regional fora including at the European Union, the UN Human Rights Council. the Pacific Forum and the MSG itself.

Benny Wenda, spokesperson for the ULMWP, thanked the people of Melanesia for their solidarity and support:

“The people of Melanesia have made our cause for self-determination now your cause.  I would like to thank our Pacific family, especially our Melanesian people, the solidarity groups, civil society groups, young people, university student movements, churches, women’s groups, traditional chiefs, and parliamentarians, political leaders and the media who stood with us to get this recognition,” said Wenda.

He added that that  the people of West Papua, had signed petitions  of  support despite the risks: "your signatures clearly speak the volume of support." 

Veteran journalist David Robie wrote that the "MSG failed the test with a betrayal of the people of West Papua by the two largest members. Although ultimately it is a decision by consensus," singling out Fiji and Papua New Guinea. He added, "the truth is the West Papuans have been betrayed, especially by the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Fiji leader Voreqe Bainimarama. For the Fiji and PNG delegations, Indonesian-funded aid is more important than human rights for their Melanesian brothers."

Gregory B. Poling of the Washington, DC think tank CSIS, while positive about the MSG decisions, speculates that "Jakarta might balk at the conditions placed on its membership" where governors and not the president will represent Indonesia.

WPAT Comment: Mote's uncompromising speech before the MSG assembled delegates is, for Indonesia, is only a foretaste of Papuan criticism and public shaming in the MSG forum. On the other hand, the MSG forum could also be a venue for the serious, senior level, dialogue that Papuans have long sought with Indonesia. Papuans call for a international intermediary for this dialogue could be fulfilled by the MSG.

West Papua Report Interview with Octo Mote, Secretary-General, ULMWP

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), at its June 26 summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands, decided to grant the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP) observer status. Simultaneously, it raised Indonesia's status from observer to associate member. Below is an interview with ULMWP Secretary-General Octo Mote conducted by WPAT's Ed McWilliams, followed by a more detailed report of the decision and reactions from the region. The MSG consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS). Links to previous articles in the West Papua Report on the Papuans membership drive can be found here:

March in support of West Papua membership in the MSG.


March in support of West Papua membership in the MSG. Photo via http://freewestpapua.org.

McWilliams: Do you regard this winning of observer status for West Papua at the MSG as a victory?

Mote: This is great victory for West Papua. This complements 2013 MSG Communique, which recognized West Papuan's inalienable rights of self-determination and respect for human rights violations. With this recognition, West Papua henceforth will be a nation in waiting.

What do you see as the likely consequences of the MSG decision? How will it change Papuan's relations with the MSG countries and the international community more broadly?

West Papua is no longer an outsider. On the basis of this "observer" status, as Secretary General of ULMWP I can meet with leaders and the Director General of MSG to discuss West Papua. I will be able to propose agenda items and to explore peaceful strategies with the MSG chair and other members. I can build a human rights and political rights file in the MSG Secretariat for future meetings. I will be able to expose and present the profile of Indonesia's colonization policy in West Papua.

How strong was Jakarta's opposition to any MSG recognition for West Papua? What tactics did Jakarta employ and how did you counter them?

Indonesia was unable to block West Papua. While Jakarta may continue with its checkbook policy with some leaders , they can not buy the people. More than 80 percent of the media in MSG countries support West Papua. Once this kind of diplomacy was exposed, the media revealed it. Another way to counter Jakarta's efforts is to continue lobbying and update the MSG peoples and governments about the current situation in West Papua.

While some MSG officials were wary of granting West Papua any status at all, there was generally strong community and NGO support for West Papua in all the countries. How important was this for your victory?

Yes, Fiji and Papua New Guinea never publicly rejected our applications. We do not know for sure if these two countries actually rejected it. Three other member, FLNKS, Vanuatu and Solomon Island publicly supported our application. So, we knew certainly that ULMWP would be accepted. What we did not know was the category of membership we would be accorded: i.e., full, associate or observer status.

ULMWP's Octo Mote and Benny Wendy at MSG meeting.


ULMWP's Octo Mote (l) and Benny Wenda at MSG meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo via Twitter: StefArmbruste.

We received very strong public support in all MSG member countries. Until the very last minute, our support groups in all member countries were very active, conducting public awareness meetings and other lobby efforts. Many sent delegations to Honiara to continue last minute lobbying for us. All of this was very important not only for the membership issue but also for future independence movement efforts. Political leader change periodically, but people will be there with their support until Papua wins its independence. The plight of West Papua issue has become a political issue in all these countries.

As a consequence of this MSG action do you think the MSG or at least various member states might emerge as interlocutors between Jakarta and West Papua? Could the MSG become an intermediary in a senior level dialogue?

Yes, that will happen. MSG is a forum where Indonesia and West Papua can conduct talks equally. This is not a post office, where one files complaints and the MSG chair and Secretariat then send them to the other.

Inasmuch as Indonesia has also achieved status in the MSG, do you expect Jakarta to use the MSG as a venue to discuss key issues with the ULMWP?


What role do you see for the International solidarity community in the wake of this victory? Should supporters of West Papua outside of Melanesia learn lessons from the involvement of Melanesian support groups and activities?


Our support groups have changed minds so that from now on West Papua is perceived as a nation in waiting. We hope they will continue their lobby activities with their own governments, as well as other governments, to recognize West Papua.

Yes. Our support groups have changed minds so that from now on West Papua is perceived as a nation in waiting. We hope they will continue their lobby activities with their own governments, as well as other governments, to recognize West Papua. Also, we hope they can assist us to become members of many international organizations and to seek funding to support our diplomatic team.

Indonesian hard liners are likely to play the Papuan victory at the MSG as a defeat for the Widodo administration. Will this further impede Widodo's already struggling initiatives to reform policy toward West Papua (e.g., expanding journalists access, release of political prisoners, ending transmigration)?

That is Indonesians business. We will fight for our right of self-determination at any cost until we got our freedom. As leader, President Widodo knows what is best to sort out this 53 year old issue peacefully. Now, President Widodo understands that the ULMWP is the only representative of West Papua's political leadership. An internationally-mediated negotiation can be launched. We are ready for that at any time.

How does the MSG decision affect the role of the ULMWP within the West Papuan political world. Will this victory serve to unite Papuans behind the ULMWP?

Before we were accepted as observers at the MSG, we united under the organization of the ULMWP. There is no doubt about it. In last two months alone (May and June), thousands have rallied in support of the ULMWP in all of Tanah Papua and many parts of Indonesia to support the ULMWP and our application to the MSG. When Indonesian President Widodo released five political prisoners, the Indonesian military and police arrested hundreds of people (see below). Many were tortured, and some killed. A total of 55.000 people signed the petition supporting membership. ULMWP was formed by three leading political groups (Federal Republic of West Papua, National Parliament, WPNCL) in West Papua and is support by all smaller groups.

How will the ULMWP consolidate this win and what is on your agenda to build upon this development?

We are working on this now. More than 30 people from inside West Papua, mostly political leaders, joined us in Honiara. We met many times to discuss next steps. We will have meetings over the next two months; there is no time for waiting.

State Department Rights Report Tempers Criticism of Indonesia over West Papua

Still from video of Paniai killings.


Still from video aftermath of Paniai killings. Tapol.

The U.S. Department of State's 2014 report on global human rights observance chapter on Indonesia while thorough and candid in some respects, however, fails to identify fully the many instances of security force abuse and unaccountability in West Papua. The report correctly notes that the Indonesian Government "failed to conduct public investigations into some allegation of unjustified killings, torture and abuses by the security forces." This statement is appropriately highlighted by placement in the "executive summary."

The report, however, misses several instances of serous human rights violations in West Papua. For example, there is no reference to the December 7-8, 2014 killing by police and military personnel of four (first reported as five) Papuan civilians and the wounding of 22 civilians in Paniai. Notwithstanding a pledge by President Widodo and a call from Indonesia's human rights commission, Komnas HAM ', there has been no investigation by the state of this atrocity.

As in the past, the report attributes some well-verified security force assaults on civilians as "alleged" or simply as "reported." Similarly, it notes that "[a]dvocates for press freedom alleged that an inter-ministerial group reviewed requests by foreign journalists and that TNI and intelligence services prevented international journalists visitation to the region." These restrictions on press freedom are well known and should have been identified as facts and not as "allegations."


The report correctly notes that the Indonesian Government "failed to conduct public investigations into some allegation of unjustified killings, torture and abuses by the security forces." This statement is appropriately highlighted by placement in the "executive summary."

The report fails to note that restrictions also extend to international human rights observers, UN personnel and international humanitarian workers. While the report notes that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), since 2009, has had only restricted access to prisons throughout Indonesia, it fails to note that the ICRC was forced to close its office in West Papua in 2009 and has not been allowed to reopen it. The report also fails to note that although the Indonesian government committed to allowing the UN Special Rapporteur for promotion and protection of the right of freedom of opinion and expression to visit West Papua in 2013, the Indonesian government has never permitted that visit to go forward.

The report identifies "separatist guerillas in Papua" as having killed members of security forces and injuring others in several attacks" and details one such attack. But the report generally fails to accurately note the imbalance between killings by "guerillas" and the far more numerous routine and unaccountable killings, torture, arbitrary detentions and other abuses by security forces against Papuan civilians. The report, for example, notes that "[t]here were multiple reports of police temporarily detaining individuals in Papua for participation in peaceful demonstrations or for distributing materials calling for an election boycott." The report does not offer comprehensive coverage of these security force violations of human rights.

The report also notes that "[i]n Papua and West Papua, tensions continued between indigenous Papuans and migrants from other provinces. Melanesians in Papua cited endemic racism and discrimination as drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region." The report ignores, however, the fact that the inflow of migrants into West Papua is in large measure a direct consequence of the Indonesian government's "transmigration" program which organizes the flow of non-Papuans from Indonesia into West Papua. Through this policy, in effect for decades, the Indonesian government directly subsidizes non-Papuan migrants' movement and resettlement, affording them economic and other advantages that enable them to out-compete the indigenous Papuans. The resultant marginalization of Papuans in their own homeland constitutes ethnic cleansing. The failure of the State Department in this report, and in previous reports, to identify and condemn transmigration is unacceptable.

The report's gravest failure is to ignore the growing evidence that the Indonesian military, particularly the Indonesian Army (TNI) is assuming power within Indonesia that it has not had since the overthrow of the dictator Suharto in 1998. This has particularly important and ominous implications for human rights particularly in West Papua where military financial interests and long record of human rights abuse, and impunity have severely impacted Papuan human rights.

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Arrests in West Papua Reach New High

Papuans Behind Bars reports that arbitrary arrests in West Papua reached a record high with 487 people arrested in May alone. From May 20 to 28, security forces clamped down on peaceful demonstrations supporting the bid by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) to become a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), arresting 223 Papuans. Pre-emptive arrests deliberately targeted people who planned to take part in peaceful protest, particularly those organized by the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB). These arrests were on top of those associated with demonstrations associated with the May 1 commemorating the 52nd anniversary of Indonesia's annexation of West Papua.

Out of those arrested in May, at least 11 men remain detention in Manokwari, Biak, Nabire and Kaimana. At least seven "are facing vague and broad charges of incitement under Article 160 of the Indonesian Criminal Code," Papuans Behind Bars writes.

The organization also reported that at the end of May 2015, there were at least 47 political prisoners in Papua.

Papuans Behind BarsAmnesty International (AI), on June 23, called for the release of seven Papuan activists detained since May. AI's Urgent Action said that all of those held had been engaged in peaceful protest and that they had been mistreated while in detention. All have been charged with "incitement" and face up to six years imprisonment.

Six were arrested in two separate incidents on May 20. Nopinus Humawak, Alex Nekenem, Maikel Asso and Yoram Magai were arrested at a peaceful rally in Manokwari. In Biak, Apolos Sroyer and Dorteus Bonsapia were detained when they went to inform police of a planned protest. Wamoka Yudas Kossay also from Biak was charged on 22 May for taking part in a peaceful protest. He was not provided a lawyer during his interrogation.

Indonesian House Blocks Release of Papuan Political Prisoners

The Jakarta Post reports that the House of Representatives rejected a proposal by the Widodo administration to offer a pardon to political prisoners in West Papua. Under Indonesian law, the president must consult with the legislature on any pardons. In May, Jokowi released five long-time prisoners  through a grant of clemency. Clemencies, which require an admission of guilt, are purely a presidential power. Amnesties or pardons do not require an admission of guilt.

Most of the Papuan political prisoners have refused clemency (as they had in 2013) demanding that they be released unconditionally, saying they would not admit guilt as they had not done anything wrong.

In rejecting the pardons, the parliamentarians claimed that prisoner releases would inflame separatism.

According to The Jakarta Post, Commission 1 deputy chairman Tantowi Yahya said "There are, as yet, no comprehensive programs by the government in Papua [to develop the region]. It's clear that the government institutions dealing with the matter have so far carried out only individual, ad hoc initiatives." Commission 1 oversees defense and foreign affairs.

Journalists Applications

Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said her ministry had approved only eight applications for foreign journalist trips to West Papua in the past six months. Last year, 22 reporting requests were granted, with five turned down. She did not say what kinds of coverage received approval or why the five were rejected. Many journalist do not ask permission and those wishing to write travel articles or business-oriented coverage of Freeport or BP activities have received permission. In May, President said that he was lifting all restrictions on journalists going to West Papua, but Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, has said that foreign journalists must still obtain permits and be screened.

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Retired General Says TNI Violating Human Rights in West Papua

A retired TNI general contends that the Indonesian army should not be the Indonesian security
agency engaging the armed resistance in West Papua. In a book written by the former head of TNI's Strategic Intelligence Body (BAIS), General Laksada Soleman B. Ponto analyzes the overall military presence in terms of international humanitarian and human rights law. Ponto argues that under international standards for a military to be actively operating in a separatist conflict the separatist group must meet several criteria. These include having a clear command structure, being in command of a defined geographic region and a significantly-high level of attacks. He concludes that OPM does not meet these standards, therefore any military operations by the TNI in West Papua should be viewed as human rights violations by the international community. He further argues that the military should cease carrying out further operations in West Papua or else the continued human rights violations will give justification for the separation of the region from Indonesia. While the book goes into more detail about the actual military operations in Aceh than in West Papua, it is significant that a high-ranking retired military officer has admitted that the TNI operations in and of themselves are human rights violations that need to end.

Jangan Lepas Papua: Mencermati Pelaksanaan Operasi Militer di Papua Sebuah Kajian Hukum Humaniter dan Hukum HAM [Don't Let Papua Go: A Humanitarian and Human Rights Law Analysis for Observing Military Operations in Papua], Laksda (Purn) Soleman B. Ponto, ST, MH, published by Rayyana Komunikasindo (ISBN: 978-602-70792-1-2).



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NGO Attacks Plans for A New Military Command in West Papua
A special issue of the magazine ASASI, published by the Jakarta-based human rights NGO ELSAM, criticizes President Widodo's plans for a new military command post (Kodam) in Papua, arguing that a reduction in military forces and a de-securitization approach are needed to reduce the human rights violations. A guest editorial by Amiruddin al Rahab calls for the resources in Papua to be used for the indigenous people and for an end to all development projects that displace the indigenous population from their land. Another article in Bahasa language publication goes further into the "Face of Violent 'Development' in Papua," finding that the 2001 autonomy law and subsequent government efforts have failed to alleviate the high levels of poverty for indigenous people, and says that the separation of Papua into two provinces has been an obstacle to addressing poverty. (SASI January - February 2015 Edition: Meretas Jalan Baru Papua (Paving New Roads in Papua))

Series on West Papua

West Papuans face ignorance, corruption and racism writes Michael Bachelard. In the final article in a six-part series, The former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent reveals the confusion and worse in the Widodo administration in its efforts to develop policy on West Papua. introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6. Other articles in the series describe local journalists' efforts to expose rights violations and cronyism and the poor state of public education.

Presidential Visit and an Agenda for Dialogue

In a reflection on Jokowi's second presidential visit to West Papua in May, Theo van den Broek highlighted the "incredibly disproportional security arrangements," which portrayed Papuans as a threat. Van den Broek  is an is an independent aid worker who has lived for four decades in West Papua The truth was that "Papuans only showed minor interest in the visit." This "might reflect the already decreasing trust in the steps taken by the President to solve the problems in Papua," van den Broek wrote. While announcements of prisoner releases and opening to journalists were initially well received, the main announcement was confirmation "that the central government would go full speed ahead and accelerate the implementation of a huge mega-project, i.e. the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), that relates to industrial investment and developing of (in the original version) 4.6 million ha of land (including virgin forestry)." Given the great suffering that large-scale development projects have caused in West Papua, it was evident that "the President didn't show that he has ever listened well to these very sad human stories or acknowledged the increasing marginalisation of the indigenous community in Papua." In conclusion van den Broek recommends an "Agenda for Dialogue" to address pressing problems in the region.

This issue can be found at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2015/1507.htm

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