West Papuan independence group says it is ‘ready to take over country’

Benny Wenda, the Chairman of the ULMWP

Three rebel armies fighting for liberation from Indonesia join forces under movement headed by exiled leader Benny Wenda

Helen Davidson

Three rebel West Papuan armies have joined forces under the control of the independence movement, led by exiled leader Benny Wenda, who says they are now “ready to take over our country”.

It comes as Indonesian authorities increase efforts in their search for five soldiers and nine crew from a military resupply helicopter which went missing on Friday.

West Papua, which shares an island with Papua New Guinea, has been under Indonesian control since 1969 and is in the grip of a long-running independence conflict.

The armed groups unified last month under the command of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) – the umbrella organisation for three independence groups.

“Politically and militarily we are united now. The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country,” said Wenda, the chair of the ULMWP.

“Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals any more, we are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting.”

The groups include the TPNPB, which attacked a construction site in December, reportedly killing 17 Indonesians.

The incident sparked a military crackdown in the region,claiming dozens of lives on both sides.

Shortly after the attack Wenda told the Guardian he could not stop the TPNPB, but called for calm.

Bobby Anderson, Papua researcher and fellow at Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy, cautioned that the rebel groups had previously announced unifications which had amounted to nothing.

“This declaration of a unified command might just be the ULMWP trying to grab some of the momentum from the Nduga actions,” said Anderson.

“We won’t know if it’s real until we see coordinated armed actions both in Nduga and beyond, that will demonstrate that the ULMWP declaration is a reality.

“I personally have my doubts. These [armed separatist] factions abound with ‘generals’ who don’t tend to take orders. They operate within limited commands in discrete areas.”

However Anderson said having the leadership of Wenda might make the difference, and an “unprecedented” unified command would see increased bloodshed.

“He managed to cobble together the ULMWP from civilian representatives of the disparate Papua independence groups and that it’s held this long is impressive.”

The unification marks another new development in the long-running conflict, just days after it was revealed West Papuan children have been drawn into the fighting.

TPNPB has acknowledged the presence of teenage and adolescent boys among its ranks, the Associated Pressreported last month.

The use of children as soldiers is a war crime under international law.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said it was a sign the conflict was far more serious than the rest of the world acknowledged.

“West Papua needs urgent international intervention, because child soldiers are themselves victims,” she said.

“The Indonesian government’s security approach has created an intractable conflict by brutalising generation after generation of West Papuans.”

Reports of military and rebel violence in the region have continued through this year, including claims of the Indonesian armed forcesallegedly using white phosphorus, and rebel attacks on soldiers, something Jakarta denies.

Source: https://amp.theguardian.com/

West Papua rebels unite to form new army

West Papuan military personnel

Armed rebel groups in Indonesia’s West Papua have reportedly united to form a new army under a single command.

A release from the office of the chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, says it’s the first time the three major factions have come under a single arm.

Under the This ‘Vanimo Border Declaration’, the Liberation Movement is taking political leadership of the new grouping, formed today and dubbed the West Papua Army.

Mr Wenda says they are ready to take over Papua and are calling for international and domestic support.

“We welcome any assistance in helping us achieve our liberation. Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals any more, we are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting,”

he said in a statement.

The new force includes the West Papua Liberation Army, which is fighting a bloody war with state forces in Nduga regency.

Also joining the united front are the West Papuan National Army and the West Papua Revolutionary Army.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz

Chief Gen. WPRA Mathias Wenda: Indonesia Must Go Home! Leave Us Alone!

Commander in Chief of West Papua Revolutionary Army

In celebrating the Independence Anniversary of the Republic of West Papua that was proclaimed by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) leaders in Great Waris, Port Numbay, West Papua on July 1st, 1971. Chief Gen. WPRA Mathias Wenda has issued a Declaration with three basic demands.

The First “maklumat” (in Malay-Indos means public legal-political announcement) says all West Papuans in the world to celebrate the independence anniversary of the Republic of West Papua by conducting official flag raising ceremony or by holding prayers in villages and places where West Papuans live.

Second “maklumat” urges all West Papuans who live in towns and suburban areas to go back to home villages as soon as possible.

The third public notice is that all Indonesians should now go back to their own islands, namely Java, Madura, Sumatera, Borneo, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara and celebrate their independence anniversary on August 17th, 2019.

Be prepared for mobilization of peoples of West Papua in welcoming the international recognition of the political sovereignty of the Republic of West Papua and witness the “going-home” of the colonial Republic of Indonesia from its colonized regions of Papua and Papua Barat provinces based on truth as well as human rights and democratic principles.

In the background to the “maklumat” General Wenda says this “July 1st, 2019 Declaration” is in response to the work being carried out by Indonesian intelligence agencies across the border areas between West Papua and Papua New Guinea, terrorizing and threatening local landowners in Papua New Guinea with dis-information and misinformation about what WPRA is doing and why we are here in Papua New Guinea.

General Wenda basically demands Indonesia to leave us Melanesians alone in our own home island, and let themselves return to their own home-islands.

For further info contact : tofreemelanesia@gmail.com, hqs@wparmy.info

Source: http://papuapost.com

Why I was Absent from Parliament – Part 1 of 2

Following the election of James Marape as the 8th Prime Minister, there has been numerous articles posted on social media asking the question why I was absent and abstained from voting. 

Last Wednesday, the former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced his resignation. Soon after resigning Members of Parliament walked over to acknowledge him. 

What was unknown to 27 Members of Opposition or William Duma’s URP, was that 4am that morning James Marape had struck a deal with Peter O’Neill to resign, which would trigger a vacancy after which Marape would lead 34 Members from the Laguna Camp across to join Crown and be their nominee for the PM position.

Why and how did it all happen? 

On Tuesday, the Members of Laguna Camp conducted a secret ballot to determine who will be named as the alternative Prime Minister. There were three main contenders for the position, James Marape, Patrick Pruaitch and William Duma. 

The numbers were stacked as follows: 

Marape 27 Members 
Pruaitch 27 Members 
Duma 13 Members 

Marape’s 27 Members included: 
Pangu – Ginsou/ Marape (21) 
People’s Party – Ipatas/ Davis/ Tongamp (3) 
Our Development Party – Puka Temu (1)
THE Party – Jeffrey Kama (1) 

Pruaitch 27 Members included: 
Original Opposition 24
Wera Mori (1) – Ex PNC / joined NA 
Tony Wouowu (1) Ex PNC / joined NA 
Social Development Party – John Kaupa (1) 

Duma’s URP Members included: 
Original URP 9 of 11 that crossed to Laguna camp 
Two absent Members, Fabian Pok & Wesley Ramani who decided to remain with Crown camp. 
Pila Ninigi (defected from PNC joined URP)
Richard Masere (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP)
John Pundari (defected from PNC joined URP)
Douglas Tomurisea (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP). 

Before Duma agreed to join, Laguna camp had 49 Members, short of 7 MPs to meet the required majority of 56 Members. 

Duma insisted that he would only join camp provided Marape and Pruaitch sign an MOU stating that he would become the alternative Prime Minister. This agreement was signed at 4am in the morning without the knowledge of the rest of Members in the Laguna Camp. 

Duma having this agreement in his pocket (literally) convinced four PNC Members (Ninigi, Masere, Pundari and Tomurisea) to join URP with the promise of a Ministry appointment. 

However, what Duma and the PNC Members were not aware of was that while Pruaitch and Marape may have agreed to nominate Duma, it didn’t mean the remaining Members of the Laguna camp would. 

This issue was raised on Monday morning at the Laguna camp where it was proposed that a secret ballot would determine the nominee. After some debate it was agreed the three nominees needed to discuss between themselves as to who will be the nominee and if they couldn’t decide then a secret ballot would proceed. 

Earlier on the same day, the Opposition caucus meeting was held to debrief on the latest issues concerning the nomination. Pruaitch explained that he was in discussion with Peter O’Neill about the option of joining Crown camp, where O’Neill would resign and nominate Pruaitch as the next Prime Minister. 

We were each asked for our views, on account this was not the first time the issue of joining O’Neill came up, I stood up and announced to our team that I’ve had enough of this crap and could no longer be part of a team who were considering joining O’Neill or even in discussion with him. I explained to Pruaitch that while in camp I was told that Pruaitch was in talks with O’Neill which I vehemently denied stating that he would never go back to O’Neill. I left the Opposition team since I refused to be party to any plans of joining O’Neill and I offered to help Marape’s team.

On Monday evening, the night before the secret ballot, I started lobbying with Members of Marape’s team and National Alliance Members (Allan Bird) together with URP Team (Jelta Wong) that we should just nominate James Marape to be the alternative. I was concerned that if we went to a secret ballot there would be issues. 

At 7am Tuesday morning, Duma held a caucus meeting with 13 of his Members at pool side. I checked back with Bird and Wong what their party position was, their response being they would not support Marape. 

After breakfast all 67 members of Laguna camp met to discuss who will be the nominee. There was heated debate, Wong insisting the terms of MOU that Duma should be honoured while others said that agreement is not binding because the Members were not party to it. 

Marape, Duma, and Pruaitch left the room, in their discussion Duma argued it was only fair they should honour the MOU, however Pruaitch objected making the point Duma put his hand on the Bible week’s earlier saying he would join the Laguna camp on 7th May 2019 but instead stayed with O’Neill. 

Duma realising that if it went to secret ballot he would certainly lose with only 13 MPs, he instead pulled out of the race and said whichever candidate wins he would be the Deputy Prime Minister. Unknown to Marape, Duma had already struck a deal to support Pruaitch. 

While they were in a meeting I took out my laptop and ran then numbers, anticipating Duma would back Pruaitch and having pulled out of Opposition I would cast my vote for Marape. 

Marape’s 27 MPs plus my vote would mean he would poll 28, Duma 13 backing Pruaitch 26 (less me) would poll 39. 

Marape, Duma and Pruaitch returned and they announced it was agreed Duma had pulled out and there would be secret ballot between Marape and Pruaitch. Even though I knew without a doubt Marape would lose I still voted for him, reasons for which I will provide in a later article.

Following the secret ballot the results were as predicted; Pruaitch 39, Marape 28. Soon after the ballot a press conference was staged to announce that Pruaitch would be nominee for alternative Prime Minister. 

It was evident that many of Marape’s 27 MPs who voted for him were deeply disappointed. That evening we all met in Marape’s room. I witnessed Marape explain to his team he had accepted the results.

I explained to them it was not over yet, as I expected Peter O’Neill to resign on the 11th hour to dislodge the Opposition’s notice of motion of no confidence. It would mean a vacancy in the Office of Prime Minister and parties would go back into camp to elect a new Prime Minister. 

4am that morning, the Southern Highlands Members of Crown Camp contacted James Marape to join their camp after he had lost the nomination. Marape explained the only way to return would be if O’Neill resigned. Members of the Crown camp in fear of ending up in the opposition following a vote of no confidence and National Alliance Party return to power put massive pressure on O’Neill to agree to resign. 

The fact Opposition side had taken over the Parliament Committee there was no question of doubt O’Neill would be voted out of office. 

The next morning the Laguna Camp met to sign the notice of motion to lodge it with Speaker and the committee to agree to have it listed on the notice paper. 

However, when Parliament reconvened that morning O’Neill announced his resignation, Marape took his cue to acknowledge him for it. When Parliament adjourned Marape crossed the floor and exited through the Government Members back entrance. A 25 seater bus was waiting for him with his 27 Members and on his tail was William Duma and Jelta Wong. When Duma tried to enter the bus Marape stopped him and said sorry this bus is only for 28 Members who voted for me. Of course 28th Member was me, who had no idea what had transpired. Straight after Parliament adjourned I had no intention of shaking O’Neill’s hands and left through the Opposition lounge. 

In part 2 I will explain what transpired in the 24 hours that lead to Marape’s election, why I was absent and the Oppositions scheme to block Marape from being elected by nominating O’Neill and Mekere, and how it miraculously back fired and how they unashamedly tried to cover it all up.

Residents, Business Houses and Diplomatic Corps Assured PNG Capital Covered CCTV

CCTV POM - Powes Parkop

MEDIA RELEASE
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2019

PORT MORESBY: City dwellers, diplomatic corps and business houses have been assured the city is already covered by closed-circuit television (CCTV) which can improve safety and security to higher standards and reduce crimes by 80 percent.

National Capital District Governor, Powes Parkop confidently gave the assurance after being briefed about the capacity of the Royal PNG Constabulary-owned CCTV Control Centre at the Oakley Haus in Hohola, one of the legacies of APEC Leaders’ Summit.

“Our city is already covered by CCTV. It is almost 100 percent. It can go very local and specific. It can get images of individuals. This setup cost us K42 million,” he told reporters after the briefing with the police on Friday, May 24, 2019.

He said the long range cameras can track down activities at roundabouts and even markets, citing petty crime hotspots like Badili, 2-Mile, Koki, Gordons and others.

Governor Parkop said the Commission’s areas of concern are betelnut vending and spittle, and graffiti amongst others, whilst the Central and Metropolitan Command’s are bigger crimes.

He is warning parents to take responsibility over their children who are engaged in vandalising private and public properties with spray paints as they will be caught using the CCTV capabilities.

Parkop also extended the warning to street and betelnut vendors and chewers, saying once the magisterial stream and police prosecution unit are dedicated to the Commission, they will be prosecuted.

He urged them to change their behaviour to be on the safe side.

He thanked the APEC Secretariat for handing over the facility to the police so that NCDC reservists can work in collaboration with them to clamp down criminals and illegal vendors.

Parkop continued that it worked well for many cities around the world and that he is reaffirmed that everything done in the city will be under the watch of CCTV.

Despite the challenges, he further stated that the facility is being worked on to full capacity.

He also thanked the Metropolitan Superintendent, Perou N’Dranou and the Police Commissioner Gary Baki for working with the Commission now after four years of futile attempts.

Mr N’Dranou said now that they have the system in place, they need to work together.

“Our communication operation from Boroko was here one week. The general public can call us now on 3249900 to report crimes or any other offences committed in the city. I am grateful our governor and the Commission are working with us to address security and safety in the city.”

APPROVED FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

……………………………………………………..
HON. POWES PARKOP, LLB, LLM, MP
Governor for NCD

Picture caption: (Left to Right) Executives of Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peter Goodwin and Rio Fiocco, Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’Dranou, Governor Parkop and City Manager Bernard Kipit inside the CCTV control centre at Hohola.

Sekjen PBB kunjungi Vanuatu

KIRI-2-1024x683

Port Vila, Jubi  Vanuatu dan negara-negara Pasifik lainnya dapat mengajar dunia, kata Sekretaris Jenderal PBB, António Guterres pada hari Sabtu. “Pelajarannya itu sangat sederhana. Kita harus menyelamatkan Pasifik, dan menyelamatkan dunia,” kata Sekjen PBB António Guterres, “dan untuk dapat melakukan hal ini kita memerlukan kemauan politik yang kuat.”

KIRI-2-1024x683
Sekretaris Jenderal PBB António Guterres dengan Perdana Menteri Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai. – DVU/Dan McGarry

Sekjen PBB itu tiba di Vanuatu, Sabtu lalu (18/5/2019), di tengah cuaca yang buruk. Sebuah badai, di luar musim siklon, sedang berada di sebelah utara Fiji, menyebabkan cuaca berawan dan angin kencang di Vanuatu, dengan gerimis mengguyur di landasan pesawat saat, Guterres turun dari pesawat hercules Angkatan Udara Australia, Royal Australian Air Force.

Dia disambut oleh perwakilan dewan kepala-kepala suku Vaturisu, dan diberi kehormatan tinggi dengan melangkah di bawah daun Namele, ketika dia memasuki ruang tunggu VIP bandara.

Setelah kunjungan kehormatan singkat kepada kepala negara, dimana mereka disajikan air kelapa segar, Guterres menuju ke kantor perdana menteri. Di sana ia menghadiri pertemuan bilateral untuk membahas isu-isu prioritas seperti perubahan iklim, dan dukungan Vanuatu untuk dekolonialisasi di seluruh belahan dunia yang tidak pernah berhenti.

Guterres menyinggung isu Papua Barat serta beberapa masalah lainnya, dan berbicara dengan berapi-api tentang semakin pentingnya darurat perubahan iklim.

“Pasifik,” jelasnya, “memiliki otoritas moral untuk meminta semua negara agar mematuhi apa yang sekarang dianggap penting oleh komunitas internasional — dan komunitas ilmiah: bahwa suhu planet ini tidak akan naik lebih dari 1,5 derajat celcius pada akhir abad ini, dan demi tujuan itu, kita harus mencapai netralitas karbon (carbon neutrality) pada 2050.

Dia bersikeras “bahwa capaian-capaian ini dapat diraih. Mereka hanya bergantung pada kemauan politik.”

Tidak lama setelah itu, dalam sebuah wawancara dengan kantor berita AFP, dia berkata, “Saya berada di Tuvalu kemarin, dan untuk melihat ancaman eksistensial yang dihadapi Tuvalu, hal itu benar-benar menghancurkan hati saya.” (Daily Post Vanuatu/Dan McGarry)

Editor: Kristianto Galuwo

House of Commons Hansard: West Papua: Human Rights

4.30 pm

Robert Courts (Witney) (Con)

I beg to move,

That this House has considered human rights in West Papua.

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am delighted to have been granted this extremely important debate about human rights in West Papua. As I understand it, this is the first ever debate in the House of Commons on this topic. I am pleased to welcome colleagues from across the House who have come to support the debate, and I am grateful to them.

There have been a couple of brief debates in the other place over the years, but this is the first time that we, as elected representatives, have debated West Papua, despite having held some 3,455 debates in the last 50 years on issues great and small, of national and local significance. That is illustrative of the lack of attention this issue has received, when it ought to have had attention both at home and from the international community. I hope that today, in our small way, we can start to shine a light on the West Papuan cause and to give a voice to the people of West Papua.

I referenced the last 50 years, and there is a significance to that, as 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the so-called Act of Free Choice. That Act is a defining moment in the West Papuan story and forms the context within which the current situation in West Papua must be viewed. I will set out some of that context and give a brief history of West Papua, before discussing the current situation. I will conclude with two key actions I suggest the UK Government consider taking to help improve the human rights situation in West Papua.

John Howell (Henley) (Con)

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way before he starts on his historical exposé. I want to set the current situation in context, as he is coming on to describe it. Is he aware of two human rights situations? The first was illustrated in a video that went viral, which showed a West Papuan freedom fighter being tortured with a snake by the Indonesian army. Is he also aware that, as a result of Indonesian activities in Nduga, 30,000 refugees have been created in just that area?

Robert Courts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I am aware of both the fact and the incident; they illustrate, in microcosm, the importance of this debate and are vivid examples of what is happening this very day in West Papua.

West Papua is the western half of New Guinea, which is the second largest island on earth and one of many thousands of south Pacific islands that are collectively known as Melanesia. Papuan people have inhabited the West Papua region for over 40,000 years. It was slowly drawn into the Dutch sphere of influence, and by the end of the 19th century the Dutch had established permanent administrative centres in the region as part of the Dutch East Indies.

When Indonesian nationalists declared independence from the Dutch empire in 1945, they included West Papua in the list of territories that would form the newly born country. That declaration sparked a four-year-long war between the Indonesians and the Dutch, which ended in 1949, when Indonesia was granted international recognition as an independent state at The ​Hague roundtable conference. However, this only heightened the divisions that existed on the status of the West Papua region. Indonesia argued that the region should be included in its new independent state, but the Dutch refused to cede the territory. At this point, I ought to mention that the West Papua region is home to the largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine in the world.

No compromise was found in the years that followed Indonesian independence, leading to a further fraying of tensions between Indonesia and the Netherlands. That led to Indonesia building up its military capacity, largely from weapons acquired from the Soviet Union. In the conflict that ensued, the United States, although originally supportive of the Dutch cause, eventually changed its position to ensure that Indonesia would not be driven towards the Soviet Union, in the context of the cold war.

Talks between Indonesia and the Netherlands followed in 1962, with the UN acting as the official mediating power. This resulted in the signing of the New York agreement, according to which the administration of West Papua would be assigned to the United Nations for a minimum of seven months, before being passed to Indonesia. Crucially, article 18 of that agreement stipulated:

“Indonesia will make arrangements, with the assistance and participation of the United Nations Representative and his staff, to give the people of the territory the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice.”

It went on:

“Such arrangements will include…formulations of the questions in such a way as to permit the inhabitants to decide (a) whether they wish to remain with Indonesia; or (b) whether they wish to sever their ties with Indonesia.”

Article 18 also noted that the consultation had to ensure the

“eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice.”

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC)

I thank the hon. Member for securing this important debate. I have long held an interest in West Papua, going back 15 or 16 years into my previous life. Is not the root issue self-determination, which is an international human right? Having an ethical foreign policy that protects that vital human right is important for any Government, including the British Government.

Robert Courts

Self-determination is a fundamental human right. That has been the case for many hundreds of years, as most famously enunciated at the beginning of the 20th century, after the first world war. It is a guiding principle in foreign policy for all countries, but particularly for the United Kingdom since that time. Self-determination is at the heart of the issue we are discussing, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point.

It is difficult to say that what happened in 1969—the so-called Act of Free Choice—was carried out in accordance with international practice or captured the true democratic will of the West Papuan people. Despite the New York agreement explicitly requiring Indonesia to

“guarantee fully the rights, including the rights of free speech, free movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area”,​

that guarantee was not fulfilled, because Papuan political parties were banned at the time of the Act of Free Choice.

A one person, one vote system, which is international practice, was not granted. Instead 1,025 representatives were selected by the Indonesian military to vote on behalf of the Papuan people. The representatives voted unanimously in favour of Papua becoming part of Indonesia. However, numerous reports from foreign observers and Papuans suggest that it was not a free consultation. It is claimed that those who were selected for the vote were blackmailed into voting against independence by means of threats of violence against their person and their families. Representatives were taken away from their families and communities for several weeks before the consultation.

Diplomatic cables from the US ambassador to Indonesia reported at the time that the Act of Free Choice in West Papua

“is unfolding like a Greek tragedy, the conclusion preordained.”

The ambassador went on to say that the Indonesians

“cannot and will not permit any resolution other than continued inclusion”

of West Papua

“in Indonesia. Dissident activity is likely to increase as the climax is reached but the Indonesian armed forces will be able to contain it and, if necessary, suppress it.”

The ambassador continued by saying that the Indonesian armed forces had “no intention of allowing” West Papuan choice

“other than incorporation into Indonesia. Separation is unthinkable.”

British diplomats in the region took similar views and drew similar conclusions at the time.

In a House of Lords debate in 2004, the then Foreign Office Minister, Baroness Symons, made this admission in responding to the then Bishop of Oxford:

“He is right to say that there were 1,000 handpicked representatives and that they were largely coerced into declaring for inclusion in Indonesia.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 13 December 2004; Vol. 667, c. 1084.]

I would be interested to hear in due course from the Minister whether that is still the position of the UK Government, although I see no reason for it to have changed at this stage.

After making that admission, Baroness Symons went on to say that these things had occurred many decades ago and that, rather than dwelling on the past, it was important to look to the future and improve matters in the here and now. While I have some sympathy with that sentiment, it does perhaps miss the key point—that in the eyes of many West Papuans, the fundamental questions about the legitimacy of the so-called Act of Free Choice undermine the very legitimacy of Indonesian rule in West Papua.

We are now in the 50th anniversary year of the Act of Free Choice, which is understandably seen as an act of great injustice by the people of West Papua, who refer to it ironically as the “Act of No Choice”. In the past 50 years, the West Papuan people have been subjected to serious human rights violations, which have only fuelled and heightened that sense of injustice. Those human rights violations include the repression of free ​speech and peaceful assembly, impediments to a free press, arbitrary arrest, and even cases of torture and killings, as we have heard.

The human rights abuses in West Papua are in large part down to the fact that the region is de facto controlled by the Indonesian military. The University of Sydney has estimated that around 15,000 troops are currently deployed in the region. When human rights violations occur, there are inadequate systems of redress for Papuans, so violations often go unpunished. An Amnesty International report on West Papua noted that there is a lack of effort to investigate accusations of human rights violations and to try before civilian courts police officials accused of violations. Furthermore, it noted that allegations of human rights abuses committed by the military in West Papua often go unchecked or are dealt with before military tribunals with no transparency, leaving many victims of human rights violations awaiting justice.

We will all be aware of the case from earlier this year, which we heard about from my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell). Footage emerged of Indonesian police interrogating a young Papuan boy, who was on the floor and in handcuffs while officers wrapped a large snake around him. The child was alleged to have stolen a mobile phone. In the video, he is heard screaming in fear as officers laugh and push the snake’s head towards his face. In responding to the incident, a UN panel of human rights experts stated that it

“reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua”.

They went on to explain that those tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and that the incident is “symptomatic” of the discrimination West Papuans face from the Indonesian authorities.

Papuans are regularly arrested for peacefully expressing their opinions on the political status of West Papua, including through peaceful demonstrations or attending meetings in which the matter is discussed. The simple act of raising the symbol of West Papuan independence, the Morning Star flag, carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Pro-independence political leaders have routinely faced persecution and even assassination at the hands of the Indonesian authorities.

At this point, I would like to introduce someone who, I am pleased to say, is in attendance today—Benny Wenda, leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who came to see me recently, along with my constituent Richard Samuelson, who was the first person to bring the situation in West Papua to my attention, and his fiancée Elaine, who are also in attendance. I thank them.

I pay tribute to Richard for bringing this issue to my attention; without going off on too much of a tangent, it shows one of the greatest things about our parliamentary system. Many of us, when we raise issues in the House, do so because they are brought to our attention by constituents in our surgeries, and this is one such case. Richard and Benny made a powerful, moving case to me, and I am only too pleased to raise this issue before Parliament today.

I make that point during this debate as a reminder of the democratic rights and freedoms we enjoy in this country. Richard and Benny could come to see me and make their point freely, knowing they would not be ​persecuted and that their representative could and would take up the matter on their behalf. Those are rights and freedoms that, sadly, are not enjoyed by too many people around the world.

Benny’s story would bring a tear to the stoniest eye. Benny’s father was, in fact, one of the representatives hand-picked in 1969 to vote in the Act of Free Choice. Benny says that he still remembers his father telling him how he had been threatened and told that he and his whole family would be killed if he voted for Papuan independence.

During our meeting, Benny told me the tragic story, which he says is permanently fixed in his memory, of when, at just three years old, he saw many of his fellow villagers, including most of his family, killed during an Indonesian military operation. Years later, Benny became the leader of the Papuan student independence movement. After being imprisoned, he was able to escape to Oxford, where he was duly granted political asylum by the United Kingdom.

When I met Benny, he expressed with great emotion the gratitude he felt to the United Kingdom, and he spoke with admiration of our values of freedom and the rule of law—principles he said he was determined to see his people in West Papua enjoy. Benny was the one who, earlier this year, presented a petition to the United Nations calling for an independence referendum in West Papua. The petition contained the signatures and thumbprints of some 1.8 million West Papuans, which represents approximately 70% of the entire population.

I turn now to the Minister. What can the UK Government do? I have explained the history and set out the present situation. The question is, what can we do to ensure that the human rights situation improves in West Papua and that the future is brighter for the Papuan people? I accept that the United Kingdom’s power is limited, but I think there are two key areas where we could—and should—apply diplomatic pressure.

We should not downplay our influence. The United Kingdom is a close and important friend of Indonesia. A recent BBC poll found that over 65% of Indonesians take a positive view of the UK’s influence, making Indonesia the country with the second most favourable perception of the United Kingdom in Asia. Therefore, we have a role to play in having these conversations with our Indonesian friends, difficult though they may be.

The first thing I ask the Minister to consider doing is to push for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. That should not be controversial; indeed, in a February 2018 meeting with the then UN High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Indonesian President Jokowi invited his office to visit West Papua. Sadly, some 15 months on, that visit has not taken place, and the former UN High Commissioner expressed concern about that in his update to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.

The Foreign Office, and our representatives in the United Nations, should encourage their Indonesian counterparts to honour that invitation and permit the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. The UN High Commissioner’s assessment of human rights in West Papua will be critical to informing the world of the situation on the ground and bringing about positive change in the region. I ask the Minister today if he would please commit to raising the issue of this invitation with his Indonesian counterpart and encouraging them to honour it.​

The second area where I would suggest the United Kingdom could have a positive influence is in pushing for increased press freedom in West Papua and particularly for greater access for foreign journalists to the region. At present, foreign journalists are essentially banned from West Papua. The few who are granted access are closely monitored by the Indonesian military and by no means allowed to report freely. The BBC’s Indonesia editor, Rebecca Henschke, was granted a special permit to report on a malnutrition crisis in the region last year but was expelled shortly after arriving after posting tweets that “hurt the feelings” of soldiers.

It is therefore unsurprising that Indonesia ranks 124th out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index of the press freedom charity Reporters Without Borders. The charity concludes that President Jokowi did not keep his campaign promise to address media freedom in West Papua, with his presidency instead seeing drastic restrictions on access for foreign journalists and growing violence against local journalists who seek to report abuses by the Indonesian military.

A free press nurtures free societies. Now, more than ever, we must defend it. That was the message of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last week as we marked World Press Freedom Day. Never has that been more true than in the case of West Papua. We simply must ensure that journalists are able to report freely in the region, shining a light on wrongdoings when they occur, and generally scrutinising the actions of the authorities in West Papua. Ensuring that that happens will go a long way towards helping to protect the human rights of the West Papuan people.

The UK is in an ideal position to take action on this issue. Last month, the UK Government announced that Amal Clooney had been made a special envoy on media freedom by the FCO and would head up a panel of legal experts looking to repeal anti-press freedom laws abroad and ensure that journalists across the world are free to report the truth. I therefore urge the Minister and the Foreign Secretary to ensure that this important panel, when it is established, investigates the situation in West Papua as a top priority. The panel, which is a wonderful initiative, can look at the restrictive laws that the Indonesian Government have put in place in West Papua, which have essentially created a media blackout in the region, and press the Indonesian Government to repeal them, enabling a free press, transparency and accountability in West Papua.

The simple fact is that the human rights situation in West Papua cannot improve until President Jokowi delivers on his promise to allow greater press freedom in the region, which has thus far failed to happen. The panel therefore represents a golden opportunity to hold the Indonesian Government to their promises, ensuring that their warm words turn into hard action. Ultimately, a free media can prevail in West Papua, and I therefore hope that the Minister will assure me that he will make strong representations to the Foreign Secretary and Amal Clooney that West Papua must be an area of focus for the Defend Media Freedom panel.

Jonathan Edwards

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again; he is extremely generous. Will he add to his wish list the suggestion that the British ​Government use all their efforts and influence in Indonesia to secure access to West Papua for non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross? They have had difficulty visiting the area to see what is going on.

Robert Courts

That is a very sensible suggestion. I wonder whether the Minister will add that. Ultimately, I think the hon. Gentleman and I are looking for transparency, access and freedom, all of which are tied together.

John Howell

I wonder whether my hon. Friend will add to his list of things that could be done something that the University of Sydney has called for: a comprehensive investigation into the killing of Papuans by Indonesian forces. At the moment, we are left with the Asian Human Rights Commission, which produced a report in 2013 showing the savagery of Indonesian forces in dealing with this situation.

Robert Courts

I am grateful for that suggestion. I am keen that the Minister takes away two or three things that we may be able to achieve in the near future, and I am of course happy to add that request to the list. Ultimately, I think we are all making the same point, which is that an investigation carried out by an NGO or the press will achieve largely the same ends: transparency, clarity and an understanding of what is taking place in West Papua. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for adding that suggestion to the list.

In conclusion, I leave the Minister with two modest requests from myself—and two from hon. Members—which, if followed through and achieved, could be immensely significant. They ought not to be controversial, as they essentially ask the Indonesian Government to honour promises they have already made. The first request is that the Minister encourages his counterparts in the Indonesian Government to honour that February 2018 invitation to the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua, and the second is that he ensures that the new FCO panel for press freedom investigates the situation in West Papua as a top priority.

If we can ensure the free access of international media and independent human rights observers to West Papua, we will have taken an enormous step forward in protecting the human rights of the Papuan people, putting the region on the road towards a more free and prosperous future. I hope the Minister will be able to assure me and all others who have attended the debate—I note that the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on West Papua, the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), is here, and I welcome him—that he will take up these issues on behalf of the people of West Papua, whose cries for help have for far too long gone unanswered. The debate has helped give a voice to the voiceless. I hope the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be able to help too.

Mr Philip Hollobone (in the Chair)

The debate can last until 5.30 pm. I am obliged to call the Front-Bench spokespeople no later than 5.8 pm. The guideline limits are five minutes for the Scottish National party spokesperson, five minutes for Her Majesty’s Opposition’s spokesperson and 10 minutes for the Minister. If the Minister will allow Robert Courts two minutes at the ​end to sum up the debate, that would be fantastic. Until 5.8 pm is Back-Bench time. Two Members are seeking to contribute, so there will be a time limit of six minutes each.

 4.56 pm

Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op)

We think we know all about the great injustices of the world: people who have been killed, had their human rights transgressed, been illegally imprisoned and seen their calls for a right to self-determination unanswered. However, West Papua is the forgotten struggle. I thank the hon. Member for Witney (Robert Courts) for giving us the opportunity to highlight the plight of West Papua, for his explanation of the history and an overview of the actions of successive Indonesian Governments against West Papua, and for the requests he made to the Minister, which I shall add to. I will not repeat any of those points, but I will say that, in the 50 years of Indonesian control, there is significant evidence of genocide.

Yale Law School, in a 2004 report for the Indonesia Human Rights Network, found

“in the available evidence a strong indication that the Indonesian government has committed genocide against the West Papuans”.

The Indonesian military have also carried out widespread acts of torture and sexual assault against the native Papuans—a point I made in a debate yesterday on women human rights defenders.

The people of West Papua have been campaigning since 1969, and many have had to flee and campaign from their new homes. A united campaign representing all those in the West Papuan diaspora and in West Papua, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, was formed in 2014, bringing together all the campaigns. The Free West Papua campaign is based in the UK and supports the all-party parliamentary group on West Papua, which I chair. As the hon. Member for Witney said, Benny Wenda, who lives in Oxford, is the chair of the Free West Papua campaign and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. I put on the record my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) and her predecessor, Andrew Smith, for their years of support for Benny and the campaign.

The bringing together of the organisations has led to major steps forward recently, one of which was the Westminster declaration calling for an internationally supervised vote for independence, signed in 2016 by representatives of Governments of four Pacific states and parliamentarians from around the world; since then, other parliamentarians, including me, have signed up to the declaration. As the hon. Gentleman said, West Papuans, in secret and often in fear of discovery, collected a petition calling for the right to vote for independence, which was signed by 1.8 million people. That petition has now been presented to the UN. I thank the Minister for the meeting prior to that petition being presented, and look forward to future meetings regarding the petition.

However, my main comments regard incidents in Nduga province. I recently met members of the World Council of Churches on their return from West Papua, who gave me a report that highlighted that Indonesian security forces allegedly fired large-calibre machine guns and dropped grenades from helicopters in areas inhabited by indigenous local communities. While the Indonesian military continue to deny access to the province for ​human rights organisations, journalists, human rights defenders and observers, a rescue team consisting of local government and civil society representatives was able to collect data in some of the affected areas.

According to recent reports, security forces killed at least nine indigenous Papuans, while at least five indigenous Papuans, including two minors, have been reported missing since the commencement of military operations. Witnesses have stated that many displaced villagers continue to hide in the jungle, where they live in small groups in improvised huts. The men leave the shelter during the night and walk long distances to collect sweet potatoes and taro. They do so under fear of murder. The harsh climate and food scarcity in the central Papuan highlands have particularly affected women and children. According to local human rights defenders, at least 13 have died because of starvation after fleeing villages.

I want to use this opportunity to highlight the fact that Indonesian armed forces have been accused of deploying chemical weapons—suspected to be white phosphorus, banned under international law—in West Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost territory. I am referring to international humanitarian law, because this is an issue of contention. Under the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, which Indonesia has signed and ratified—in fact, it sits on the committee—states are banned from using and stockpiling chemical weapons.

ABC, which is the Australian equivalent of the BBC, reported in December claims that wounds may have been inflicted by white phosphorous. The report had photos of the canisters and wounds. I have more photos, from the World Council of Churches, which I can provide to the Minister. I wrote to the Minister regarding this situation, and he responded to me, but I feel that the Minister’s letter could have been written by the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Before I wrote to the Minister, the Indonesian embassy wrote to me, saying:

“I deeply regret that such motion was based on groundless reporting, most notably by Australia’s The Saturday Paper throughout its January to February 2019 articles. No significant evidence has been subsequently produced despite the strong claims made by the authors.”

In the Minister’s letter to me, he said:

“We are aware of a media claim, first made in The Saturday Paper on 22 December 2018, about the possible use of white phosphorus”.

It was not just The Saturday Paper, which is a small paper in Australia; it was ABC and many other media outlets that reported the claims. I am sure that the Minister would not want people to think that the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was subservient to the Indonesian Government on these matters, so I once again urge the Minister to write to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to ask it to investigate this issue as an international priority. I request that the Minister immediately send an official request to the OPCW, asking the organisation to verify the incident and investigate the suspected breach of Indonesia’s obligations under the chemical weapons convention. If no investigations are conducted, if no light is shone into the dark underbelly of the military occupation of West Papua by Indonesia, how will we know what is going on?​

Before I have to finish, I want to make just one more point about the letter from the Minister. He says:

“The use of white phosphorus is not banned under international law”.

I ask him whether the UK Government are going to call for the banning of white phosphorous, because when it is used against civilians, it is a chemical weapon; it is exactly that type of weapon and should be banned under international law.

 5.02 pm

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone, and to follow the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel). I thank the hon. Member for Witney (Robert Courts) for securing the debate and for the very powerful contribution that he made in setting the scene for us and explaining his interest in the subject. It is also a pleasure to see the Minister in his place. We recognise his commitment to his role, which he carries out very well. We often say this, but it is the truth: I very much look forward to hearing the Minister’s remarks.

I am very interested in human rights issues and always have been. That has been one of the big issues for me in my time in the House. I chair the all-party parliamentary group for international freedom of religion or belief, but today I will speak about human rights issues; I want to put those on the record. Whether we are talking about discrimination or abuse and whether it is emotional, physical or financial, I am happy to take whatever opportunity comes my way to speak up for people—to be, as the hon. Member for Witney said, a voice for the voiceless, and to speak for those whom no one else is speaking for, at least in this place.

According to Amnesty International, the people of Papua are subject to severe human rights violations at the hands of Indonesian authorities. Amnesty’s 2002 report on Indonesia found that counter-insurgency operations by security forces in West Papua had resulted in gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the elections as well. In Northern Ireland some time ago, in the early years of the troubles—1969 or thereabouts—people used the term “gerrymandering”, as in gerrymandering the democratic process. I am reminded very much of that, except that in this case, the result was very final. As terrible as it is to fix elections by intimidation and threats of violence, the reality for West Papuans is even worse. A paper prepared by Yale Law School in 2004 found evidence that strongly indicates that the Indonesian Government have committed genocide against the West Papuans and that, at the very least, the Indonesian Government have committed crimes against humanity against them.

Despite those crimes, authorities in West Papua operate with impunity. In March 2018, the mysterious death in police custody of Rico Ayomi, a 17-year-old student, from alleged alcohol poisoning underscored the police’s lack of accountability for deaths of Papuans. From 2010 to 2018, security forces were responsible for an estimated 95 deaths in 69 incidents, 39 of which were related to peaceful political activities such as demonstrations or raising the Papuan independence flag. No security ​force personnel have been convicted in civilian courts for those deaths, and only a handful of cases have led to disciplinary measures or military trials. It is outrageous and unacceptable that none of those cases has been answered. Those who have committed crimes need to be brought to the courts for those crimes—for their brutality.

The brutality of the Indonesian Government in cracking down on separatists has created an environment in which anyone suspected of supporting Papuan independence can become subject to human rights violations by police and security forces, including unlawful killing, torture and beating. Thus the rights of West Papuans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are heavily curtailed. In today’s debate, we are speaking for those people and ensuring that their voices are heard. Many people are imprisoned simply for having taken part in non-violent demonstrations or expressed their opinions. Here we are expressing our opinion, and we can do that freely. Why should they not be able express their opinion?

Similarly, international human rights organisations and journalists face severe restrictions on their ability to work freely and visit the area. Human Rights Watch reports that just last year, two foreign journalists were harassed for alleged illegal reporting. They were BBC correspondent Rebecca Henschke, arrested in February, and Polish freelancer Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, arrested in August.

The oppression of the media and freedom of expression ensures that the terrible oppression of West Papuans continues away from the international community’s awareness. I do not believe that we, as part of the international community, can sit back and do nothing. That is why this debate and those in other parts of the world are so important. It is vital that we take every opportunity that we have to publicly stand in solidarity with those who are suffering in West Papua and to say to the Indonesian Government, “The world is watching you. We will not simply forget.” The opportunity to speak for the people of West Papua has been given to us today. We look to the Minister for a response and we hope that the influence that we can exert on Indonesia can bring about change.

 5.07 pm

Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP)

I thank the hon. Member for Witney (Robert Courts) and congratulate him on initiating this debate. As he pointed out, it is the first one that this place has had on this subject ever. I appreciated the very powerful remarks that he made and I am glad that they are now on the record. I look forward to hearing a response to some of the points that he raised with the Minister, who I know takes this matter seriously as well.

As the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) has just said to us, it is important to have a voice, because we have to tell the Indonesian authorities that the world is watching; the world is paying attention. It is important to raise and highlight human rights violations and lack of self-determination wherever that occurs in the world. That is what makes this debate on West Papua so timely.

The SNP unequivocally condemns any human rights violations, regardless of where in the world they occur. We find the reports that have come out about human rights violations incredibly concerning. We have seen some reports about the use of chemical weapons as well. The hon. Member for Witney quoted a comment from the UN panel of experts:​

“This case reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua”.

That should be hugely concerning to all of us. The hon. Gentleman was right, as were other hon. Members, including the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on West Papua, the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel). He and his colleagues are doing good work in pushing for a full investigation of the situation.

The hon. Member for Witney was right that self-determination goes to the heart of this issue. The right of people to choose how they are governed is a fundamental pillar of the international rules-based order. We should all be significantly concerned that the decision to unify with Indonesia—the act of free choice, as it was called, or the act of no choice, as others have referred to it—was made with one in 800 citizens having the vote. Even those one in 800 voters, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out and as Mr Wenda has testified, may not have had a free and fair vote. That is a very significant issue. What moves does the Minister have to raise that issue of self-determination, which is so important in this case? What discussions has he had with the Indonesian authorities and representatives of West Papua?

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)

I apologise for not being here for the whole debate. I had commitments in Committee and the main Chamber. I first met Benny Wenda several years ago when he visited the Scottish Parliament. He was hosted by our good friend Aileen Campbell, who is now a Minister in the Scottish Government. I had the pleasure of meeting him again this morning with his colleagues.

Self-determination is crucial. Regardless of an individual’s views on whether a given community should be an independent state or country, the people who live there and self-identify as part of that nation or community should have the right to a free and fair choice. Understandably, the Scottish National party has always been very proud to support that.

Stephen Gethins

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point. I want to add that Mr Wenda is always very welcome in the Scottish Parliament. I also add my voice to the key actions raised, including pushing for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit. That visit must take place. I know that the Minister will make that point in the strongest possible terms. The press must also have the freedom to visit. If there is nothing to hide, they should show that. The hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) made a good additional point about letting international NGOs, such as Amnesty International and others, be part of any delegation.

I want to leave time for the Minister to respond. I add my voice to the points that have already been made. I know that the Minister has heard those points loud and clear.

 5.12 pm

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate the hon. Member for Witney (Robert Courts) on raising an extremely important issue, which he did very well. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), who is an extremely energetic champion for the people of West Papua.​

Several hon. Members have talked about the history and I agree with their analysis. There has been some discussion of the human rights situation. It is extremely disappointing that the human rights situation in West Papua is still so bad, because the situation in other parts of Indonesia has improved significantly over the past 20 years. One would hope that the people of West Papua would have benefited from that as well.

I want to raise a couple of particular episodes. First, at the beginning of last December more than 500 Papuans were arrested after peaceful demonstrations to commemorate the birth of the West Papuan nation in 1961. Days later West Papua Liberation Army militants attacked and killed 20 construction workers in the Nduga region. Some 300 villagers had to flee to escape the subsequent military sweep following the attack.

The British Government have slightly more power than the hon. Member for Witney suggested, because the UK is currently the penholder in the UN Security Council for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Innocent West Papuans are clearly not getting the protection they so badly need. They are being treated as legitimate targets by the Indonesian military. I would be grateful if the Minister would explain what his Department is doing about that.

Alex Sobel

In a letter to me the Minister described that incident as “proportionate”. Would my hon. Friend describe the actions of the Indonesian army as proportionate or disproportionate?

Helen Goodman

They are most clearly disproportionate.

I want to talk about the use of white phosphorous. I believe that white phosphorous was used inappropriately, because I had meetings with Octovianus Mote, the deputy chairman and former general secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who had direct testimony from people in the area, and with Ian Martin, the former head of the UN mission, which conducted the self-determination referendum in East Timor.

We need to be really specific about this matter: white phosphorous is not banned under the chemical weapons convention, but its military use is circumscribed by protocol III of the UN convention on certain conventional weapons. However, it is prohibited in all circumstances to use it against civilians. It is also prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons, which is what happened on this occasion. I entirely support those calls to send in experts from the UN and the OPCW, to look at what happened. I heard stories of old people being burned out of their homes.

Furthermore, I would like the Minister to suggest to the Indonesian military—it seems to be out of control in West Papua—that peacekeeping duties be assigned instead to the local police. As well as the UN-led investigation into white phosphorus, we need to see the release of political prisoners and the recognition of local political parties, to facilitate the development of a political and civil society in West Papua. I hope that the Government will review any sales of military equipment to Indonesia.

 5.18 pm

The Minister for Asia and the Pacific (Mark Field)

It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) for securing this ​important debate. I am also grateful for the insights and contributions of the hon. Members for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and for the Front-Bench contributions. I will endeavour to answer all the questions, and I will respond in writing to those that I do not answer now.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Indonesia. I am very pleased to say that the relationship is flourishing. Indonesia is an important democratic partner in the G20 and, for the next two years, on the UN Security Council. In that context, we follow the situation in Papua very seriously. We welcome President Joko Widodo’s commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Papua, but we recognise that the historical challenges are significant. Many of those challenges stem from the disputes over resources and governance, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Witney, and from unresolved human rights grievances.

Although the UK Government wholeheartedly respect the territorial integrity of Indonesia, with the province of Papua and West Papua as integral parts, it is important, within that framework, that the authorities address the needs and aspirations of the Papuan people.

We are concerned by the sporadic outbreaks of violence in Papua, and by reports of alleged human rights violations by the security forces. We will continue to press the Indonesian authorities to strengthen their human rights protections and to address the legitimate concerns of the people, including by ensuring that they benefit from sustainable and equitable development, and of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) in relation to the building of a civic society that allows free political parties.

There are serious and long-standing concerns about the influence and actions of the Indonesian security forces in Papua. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I believe that it is regrettable that, despite improvements since the restoration of democracy in Indonesia in 1998, there remains persistent reporting of worrying human rights violations in Papua. Meanwhile, there has been no real accountability for the serious abuses of the past.

When I met the Indonesian ambassador to London in January, I raised those issues with him, not least because I had recently met with the all-party group, and in the light of the contemporary violence in Nduga, where armed groups had attacked construction workers, resulting in the deaths of 19 people. We urged the Indonesian authorities then to ensure that any security response is proportionate. As has been rightly and universally recognised, however, under successive democratically elected Governments there has been a noticeable improvement in the overall human rights situation across Indonesia and an end to the debilitating conflicts in East Timor, Aceh, Ambon and elsewhere.

During their recent phone call, the UK Prime Minister praised the President of Indonesia for the peaceful conduct of the presidential and legislative elections in April, which represented the single largest one-day democratic event anywhere in the world, with an 80% voter turnout and more than 800,000 polling stations operating across the archipelago. Although there were some localised delays to polling, including in Papua, there has been no evidence to suggest that it was anything other than a well-run and credible election. Nevertheless, ​we will continue to raise our concerns about issues such as the freedom of expression and assembly and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

In reference to media freedom in Papua, which was raised by several hon. Members, UK officials regularly raise the importance of media access to Papua with the Indonesian Government, and they will continue to do so. Our embassy in Jakarta is active in promoting press freedom across the entirety of Indonesia, where there is already a vibrant media environment. To mark World Press Freedom Day last week, the embassy arranged a full programme of activities to celebrate the work of Indonesia’s journalists, media organisations and regulators in that regard.

Although President Jokowi has said that foreign journalists should be allowed to access Papua without pre-conditions, unfortunately we understand that Indonesian officials continue to place substantial practical obstacles in the way of that taking place. Transparency and media access are important to give us a fuller picture of the situation. We also encourage all Indonesian journalists to write openly and frankly about Papua to ensure that local perspectives are properly heard and are part of the debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Witney made a point about the panel to defend media freedoms, which has not yet had its first meeting, as I understand. It will be for its members to determine its work and to plan its initial areas of focus. It would not be appropriate for the UK Government to seek to dictate them, because in many ways that would undermine the important sense of its independence.

We regularly press for the release of political prisoners across Papua. Under President Jokowi, the number has fallen from 37 in 2014 to fewer than 10 today. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have acknowledged that positive trend, but we continue to make the case that 10 political prisoners remains 10 too many. Moreover, we are concerned that three people were charged with treason in January after apparently taking part in a peaceful prayer event. We call, here and now, for all political prisoners to be released immediately, and for the Indonesian authorities to ensure that all detainees are given the right to a fair trial.

We will continue to request updates on the historical human rights cases in Papua that President Jokowi has committed to resolve. We will keep the pressure up in the aftermath of the elections. Initial investigations have been conducted by the National Commission on Human Rights, but they need to be properly dealt with by the Attorney General’s office.

On phosphorus, I am happy to have further conversations with the hon. Members for Bishop Auckland and for Leeds North West about the issue, but our investigations have not substantiated the media claims that it was used in violation of the chemical weapons convention—as was rightly pointed out, it is prohibited in all cases against civilians. Therefore, we do not believe that there is a case for referral to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but I am more than happy to look at any additional written or other evidence that the hon. Gentleman has. Clearly, we would then be happy to take the matter up.

As has been pointed out, President Jokowi has visited Papua 10 times during his first term, which is far more than any previous Indonesian President. He has made a number of important democratic commitments, including ​to establish a constructive political dialogue with Papuan groups. That process represents a credible opportunity to address long-held grievances, and in our discussions with the Indonesian Government we will urge them to deliver on those commitments. I very much hope that the recent sad but peaceful passing of Pastor Neles Tebay, the Papuan priest who has been at the forefront of attempts to create a peaceful dialogue on the future of Papua, might inspire progress to honour his legacy, led by the team that the President has appointed to foster a dialogue.

I agree that the Act of Free Choice was an utterly flawed process, but I have to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Witney, and to the Chamber, that there is no desire in the international community for reopening the question. The UK, along with other members of the UN, supports Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

We will continue to support efforts by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and her officials to arrange the visit to Papua, at the invitation of the Indonesian Government. Officials in our embassy in Jakarta have discussed the proposed visit with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and have encouraged Indonesia to agree dates as soon as possible. I also undertake to raise the proposed visit with my Indonesian counterparts. I hope to make a substantially long visit to Indonesia later in the year.

Facilitating a visit to Papua would help the Indonesian Government to demonstrate their commitment to the rights and freedoms of those residing there. It would also help to underline the seriousness with which they take their candidacy for a seat on the Human Rights Council. Being a member of the UN Security Council also provides us with an opportunity to speak fairly openly in New York on the issue.

It is clear that economic factors are a major source of grievance among the Papuan people, and a source of strain in their relationship with the central Government and local authorities. That is why we will continue to support Indonesia’s regional governments to develop a green economy in which people can make a living without over-exploiting their natural resources, and in which there is greater regulatory oversight of the timber industry, which has been fundamentally linked to the social conflict.

I end by saying that the Government will continue to take a close interest in human rights in Papua. I am pleased that a number of MPs are passionate about ​that. I enjoy their passion and it provides us with the opportunity to make a serious case to our Indonesian counterparts, which we will do. Above all, that expression of interest is in the interests of all the people of Papua and the rest of Indonesia.

 5.28 pm

Robert Courts

I thank the Minister for his full and comprehensive response, and every hon. Member for taking part. Once again, I welcome Benny Wenda and my constituent Richard Samuelson to the Public Gallery. I thank them for having initiated the debate and I hope that they think it has advanced the cause of human rights in West Papua.

I am grateful to all hon. Members for their points. I thank the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) for what I will summarise as his robust response to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) for his point about access to justice; the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) for underlining my points about the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and press freedom; and the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) for making the point about political prisoners.

I assure the Minister that I have heard everything he has said and I am glad that the FCO regularly raises the issue of press freedom. I underline the point that the Act of Free Choice lies at the heart of the real repression and the feeling of ill-justice, which are central to the cause. In the 70th year of diplomatic relations, I hope that the Minister and the FCO will continue and redouble their efforts, having heard how strongly hon. Members feel. On the panel to defend media freedoms, I understand its independence; I do not ask that the UK Government dictate to it but merely make suggestions.

We have made great strides today. I am grateful to you for having listened to us in detail, Mr Hollobone. We have cast a searching gaze on the human rights situation in West Papua. We must ensure that we do not look away.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered human rights in West Papua.

 5.30 pm

Sitting adjourned.

Bougainville independence referendum postponed

John Momis and Peter O'Neill Photo: RNZ / AFP

A meeting today in Port Moresby between the Papua New Guinea national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government resolved to defer the referendum to 12 October.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission had requested the referendum be postponed due to a lack of funding for preparations for the plebiscite and incomplete voter registration.

Under the terms of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, the referendum must be held by June 2020.

Source: RadioNZ

UN demands probe into Indonesian treatment of Papuans

Papuan Being Interrogated with Snake

JAKARATA, 22 FEBRUARY 2019 (THE AUSTRALIAN) – United Nations human rights experts have demanded an independent probe into “alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans” by Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights has highlighted what it says is a culture of impunity among security forces in the provinces.

The demand comes a fortnight after a video went viral showing a handcuffed Papuan youth being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body, and as the UN group negotiates with the Indonesian government for access to the restive provinces.

There have also been reports this week that hundreds of students have fled fighting between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in the highlands district of Nduga, following the December massacre of 16 government workers.

The video showed an indigenous youth, arrested on February 6 on suspicion of having stolen a mobile phone, yelling in fear while police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

In a statement released on Thursday night the UN said the case reflected a “widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua”.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police.”

The group of five UN experts includes the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples; torture cruel and inhumane treatment; on the situation of human rights defenders; on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; as well as the chairman of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Papuan police have publicly apologised for the incident, and said an officer involved had been investigated and suspended for ethical violations.

But, the UN group has said prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

“We urge the government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account,” it said.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua.”

Papuan police commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal told The Australian there was “no such thing as a culture of impunity, racism or excessive use of force” in the local police force, and it was an “exaggeration” to say there was systemic use of torture and racism towards indigenous Papuans.

“We always use force proportionally, we treat every citizen of Papua equally,” General Kamal said.

“We provide services and protection and enforce the law equally, regardless of race and religion, including investigating one of our own officers. This was an isolated incident and the officer has been punished.”

Human rights groups have long-accused successive Indonesian governments of sanctioning the violent suppression of Papua and West Papua’s independence movements, fearing their success could encourage similar movements in other provinces.

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has estimated more than 10,000 people were killed in Papua and West Papua during the 32-year Suharto era which ended in 1998.

An Amnesty International report last year found security forces were responsible for 95 extra-judicial killings in the two Papua provinces over the past eight years — almost one a month.

While The Netherlands granted Indonesia independence in 1949 it held onto Papua until 1962 when it ceded control of the province to the UN.

Indonesia was granted de facto control the following year and in 1969 conducted the so-called Act of Free Choice referendum in which 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military voted to determine the political status of the province.

Source: Fijitimes.com

Why nearly 2 million people are demanding an independence vote for West Papua province

What is Wset Papua and What is Papua New Guinea

Earlier this week, a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people calling for an independence referendum in Indonesia’s West Papua province was delivered to United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said he hoped the UN would send a fact-finding mission to the province to substantiate allegations of human rights violations.

“Today is a historic day for me and for my people,” Mr Wenda said after the meeting in Geneva.

Local media reported Indonesia’s Minister for Defence, Ryamizard Ryacudu, told Parliament: “[They’re] not allowed independence. Full stop.”

The embattled Indonesian province has had a decades-long independence struggle, with its identity torn between several conflicting stakeholders.

Here’s a look at where West Papua is, the problems it faces, and how things might turn out in the future.

West Papua and Papua New Guinea … what’s the difference?

West Papua and Papua, often referred to collectively as West Papua, are the easternmost provinces of Indonesia and their acquisition has been the cause of controversy for more than 60 years.

West Papua shares its borders and cultural ethnicity with Papua New Guinea, but while PNG was colonised by the British, prior to German and Australian administration, West Papua was colonised by the Dutch, setting it on a different course.

According to the Indonesian Centre of Statistics and the World Bank, West Papua’s regional GDP per capita is significantly higher than the national average, mainly due to mining.

However, it is also the most impoverished region in the country with the highest mortality rates in children and expectant mothers, as well as the poorest literacy rates.

What is happening now and what is the history?

Control of West Papua was agreed to be transferred to Indonesia from the Dutch with the assistance of the United States government as a part of a US Cold War strategy to distance Indonesia from Soviet influence in 1962.

Prior to this, Australia had also supported the West Papuan bid for Independence, but backtracked due to a Cold War security logic to minimise ‘the arc of instability’.

The Netherlands and Indonesia signed the New York Agreement, which would place Indonesia under UN Temporary Executive Authority until a referendum that would allow all adult West Papuans to decide on the fate of their independence, called the Act of Free Choice.

But in 1967, the Indonesian government signed a 30-year lease with US gold and copper mining company Freeport-McMoran to start mining in the resource-rich region, prior to the referendum.

Two years later, according to historians, a number of men were handpicked to vote under the monitor of the Indonesian military and voted unanimously to remain under Indonesian rule. It has since been dubbed the “Act of No Choice” by activists.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Benny Wenda@BennyWenda

Today on behalf of #ULMWP & the people of #WestPapua, I presented the #WestPapuan people’s petition for #SelfDetermination to the #UnitedNations @UNHumanRights in Geneva, signed by over 1.8 million #WestPapuans, https://www.ulmwp.org/chairman-of-the-ulmwp-celebrates-handing-in-of-west-papuan-peoples-petition-to-un-high-commissioner …1497:30 AM – Jan 26, 2019121 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Indonesia and its representatives at the UN have since repeatedly rejected claims of human rights abuses in the region and demands for another referendum, saying the allegations have been spread by “Papuan separatist movements”.

Clashes have occasionally broken out. In December, Indonesian police claimedindependence supporters killed 19 people working at an Indonesian-owned construction company.

On Monday, the Indonesian military said separatists opened fire on an aircraft carrying military personal and local goverment officials, killing one soldier.

But verifying any information is difficult because of restrictions on press freedom and the remoteness of the location.

In 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced he would open the region to foreign journalists following decades of media blockades and bureaucratic red tape, but a series of statements by foreign journalists suggests otherwise.

‘Cultural genocide’ or separatist exaggeration?

A 2004 report from Yale Law School said the Indonesian government had “acted with necessary intent to … perpetrate genocide against the people of West Papua”, a claim the Indonesian government has strongly denied.

Activists have been imprisoned for displaying the West Papuan pro-independence Morning Star flag, and say they face discrimination and are subject to violent attacks for expressions of political views.

There have also been a number of military crackdowns that have been referred to by Human Rights Watch as “high priority” human rights abuse cases.

The number of insurgencies in the region has declined as the Papuan indigenous population halved due to government policies of transmigration.

The late West Papuan academic and activist John Otto Ondawame described the situation as “cultural genocide”.

Transmigration refers to the government resettling Indonesians from high-population regions to low-population areas, which was formally ended by Mr Widodo in 2015.

The program was deemed controversial by analysts as it involved permanently moving people from densely populated areas of Java to sparsely population regions such as Papua.

It has been criticised as causing fears of the “Javanisation”, or “Islamisation” of Papua, resulting in strengthened separatist movements and violence in the region.

How might things play out now?

It’s hard to say.

In 2017, Mr Wenda said he had presented a similar petition with the signatures of 1.8 million peopledemanding a vote on independence to the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, although it became unclear whether the decolonisation committee actually received the documents.

This time, Mr Wenda was accompanying a ni-Vanuatu delegation in Geneva and reportedly presented the document to the UN’s human rights wing rather than the decolonisation committee.

Mr Wenda told the ABC he was hopeful the new petition delivered to a different branch of the UN would have an impact.

“We hope that she will deliver the petition to the secretary-general to review [the referendum] of 1969, and give the people of West Papua [the opportunity] to choose its own destiny,” he said.

But the head of the Presidential Palace in Indonesia told local journalists this week, “The UN will respect Indonesia’s sovereignty”.

In the past, the ULMWP, along with other international activists, have called on the UN to review the 1969 referendum and investigate human rights abuses in the region.

These requests have been repeatedly rejected by the UN and Indonesia has continued its administrative powers over the region.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.VIDEO: Five key things to know about West Papua (ABC News)

ABC/Wires

Forum SG says Vanuatu position on self-determination issue admirable

Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum. Credit: The Pacific Community

Daily PostVanuatu has always been very principled in its approach to West Papua, in the issue of self-determination of any country, particularly in our own region, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said.

She says the approach by Vanuatu is a very admirable position to take.

Dame Taylor says some of the countries don’t come out as strongly as Vanuatu.

“There are countries that have different views on this but they have come together with a collective decision.

“In all their communiques they (Forum Leaders) have expressed their concerns about human rights issues until last year.

“Last year they instructed the secretariat to keep a more proactive engagement with Indonesia,” she stated in an interview with Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.

Dame Taylor said last year Prime Minister O’neil addressed the University of the South Pacific and raised human rights issue and has been supportive of UN Human Rights Commission Mission to go into West Papua.

“I myself as SG met with Human Rights Commissioner last year when they came through the Pacific after they visited Jakarta, we raised the issue as well that, that is what we want to see.

“From the Secretariat itself what we have done over the last two years is we’ve gone into West Papua and Papua provinces to observe the elections there to see indigenous West Papuan people participate in those processes.

“Our reports are written and are sent out to member states.

“The situation of West Papua in the last couple of weeks has been desperate.

“People have died. People from Java and other provinces but most of all people of Melanesian decent, there have been tragedies there.

“I understand Indonesian Government has asked for the UN Mission to go in.

“Pacific countries should be on that (UN) mission,” Dame Taylor said.

news@dailypost.vu

MSG DG Congratulates Gov’t Delegation on Recent Universal Periodic Review

The MSG Secretariat’s Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli with Vanuatu Delegation

The Vanuatu Daily PostThe MSG Secretariat’s Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli has congratulated the Government of Vanuatu, in particular Minister for Justice and Community Services Don Ken and his distinguished delegation who recently presented Vanuatu’s national report to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in Geneva last week.

Ambassador Yauvoli acknowledged the great efforts undertaken by the Vanuatu government since its last UPR in 2013 to address its human rights priorities and noted Vanuatu’s best practice of publishing a UPR implementation plan and being the only country in the region to do so.

“Apart from the Implementation Plan, the Vanuatu National report highlights key achievements by the government on various human rights including the submission of the initial and combined periodic report of the CRPD; the completion of the 2nd and 3rd periodic report and constructive dialogue with the CRC Committee, the completion of the 4th and 5th report on CEDAW and constructive dialogue with the CEDAW Committee; the endorsement of the Child Protection Policy 2016-2026, the Child Safeguarding Policy 2017-2020; the establishment of an External Inspection team for the monitoring of correction centres, the establishment of a Ministry of Climate Change, the passing of the Right to Information Act and the establishment of a unit in the PM’s office, the National Disability Inclusive Development Policy 2018-2025 and the National Anti-Corruption Policy Framework 2018-2022 among others are truly remarkable achievements,” Ambassador Yauvoli noted.

“The MSG Secretariat is also pleased to have provided technical support throughout the preparatory stages by the government including assisting the drafting committee of the national report and recently holding a mock UPR session to the Honourable Minister’s delegation prior to their departure for Geneva. We are also pleased that our partnership with SPC RRRT is strengthened through our joint support to the government in this area,” DG Yauvoli added.

The UPR is the UN Human Right’s Council periodic review of all member states on the actions they have taken to improve human rights situations in their countries and fulfil their human rights obligations. Vanuatu was reviewed at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on January 24, 2019.

The MSG Secretariat will work with its partners especially SPC RRRT to support the Vanuatu government’s efforts in the implementation of key recommendations from this review as well as to our other members who will be undertaking this national obligation Ambassador Yauvoli remarked.

Following its review under the UPR, the member state will have about four years to work on implementing accepted recommendations. Vanuatu’s next UPR is in 2024.

news@dailypost.vu

PNG’s Parkop pushes for referendum for West Papuans

Powes Parkop Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

The newspaper The National reported that Powes Parkop wants PNG to push for a legitimate independence referendum for West Papuans

He said this was needed because 1969’s so-called Act of Free Choice referendum, through which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia, was fraudulent.

Mr Parkop’s comment came amid escalating conflict between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces.

The Liberation Army this month massacred at least 16 Indonesian road workers in the Highlands.

Mr Parkop said the crisis would only be solved by a properly supervised and legally conducted referendum in accordance with international law.

PNG’s government supports Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.

But the governor said conflict would continue unless West Papuans’ unquenchable desire for legitimate self-determination is met.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/

West Papua Liberation Army refuses to surrender

Members of the West Papua Liberation Army Photo: TPNPB

The West Papua Liberation Army is refusing to bow to Indonesia’s ultimatum and surrender.

After the Army claimed responsibility for a massacre in Papua province earlier this month, Indonesian security forces deployed extra troops to pursue the pro-independence fighters.

The search continues for four Indonesian road construction workers missing in Papua’s Highlands region after at least 16 workers were killed by the army.

A spokesman for the Liberation Army, Sebby Sambom, presented a statement saying they would continue their war against the Indonesian state until independence is achieved.

He said Indonesia has taken over the Papua region like a thief, and that it would not be right for the homeowner to surrender to thieves.

On a video posted to youtube, Mr Sambom read an open letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo demanding that he allow a referendum for Papuans to decide whether they want to be integrated with Indonesia.

The Army has also called for unrestricted access to Papua for foreign journalists, as well as for the UN refugee agency and the international Red Cross to help take care of civilians caught up in the conflict.

Indonesia’s Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto has told media that the government will not enter any discussions with the Army, who Jakarta describes as a criminal group.

He said the Army had committed inhumane crimes, and that Indonesia’s government would take appropriate actions to ensure its citizens were protected.

Earlier this week, Indonesia’s military said the Liberation Army had an ultimatum to immediately surrender or be finished.

Source: RadioNZ

Human Rights Watch calls for end to killings in Papua

West Papua Liberation Army at the issuance of a declaration of war against Indonesian security forces. Photo: Supplied

Human Rights Watch is calling on Papuan militants to stop unlawful killings, after a massacre of Indonesians took place in the Highlands region.

The West Papua Liberation Army has claimed resposibility for the murders of at least 16 construction workers and a soldier this month.

The West Papua Liberation Army has claimed resposibility for the murders of at least 16 construction workers and a soldier this month.

The Liberation Army said the workers were Indonesian military in disguise.

Military and police have deployed a joint operation in Nduga regency, calling for the fighters to surrender.

Human Rights Watch’s Australia director Elaine Pearson said the attack raised grave concerns and must be investigated.

But security forces should be transparent and not commit abuses in retaliation, Ms Pearson said.

Journalists should also be allowed to operate independently in the area, she said.

“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Ms Pearson said.


“Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”

Source: RadioNZ

TNI gives Papua Liberation Army ultimatum to surrender

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands. Photo: RNZ / Suara Wiyaima

The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing up to 31 Indonesians, mainly road construction workers, this month in the Highlands of Papua province.

TNI and police have retrieved 16 bodies from Nduga regency, having deployed a major joint operation there in response to the massacre.

A TNI spokesperson Mohammed Aidi said that the Liberation Army should immediately surrender or be finished.

Colonel Aidi has denied media reports that the military is using aerial bombing against Papuan communities in the Liberation Army’s stronghold area.

He said at present the joint forces have captured and occupied Nduga’s Yigi and Mbua districts, and that villagers who fled from fighting to the bush are starting to return.

The TNI’s response to the massacre has reportedly caused four fatalities among civilians, according to local media.

However, Colonel Aidi said that given the area where casualties were reported, it was unlikely they were pure civilians but rather those linked to the perpetrators of the massacre.

Colonel Aidi disputed claims by a Liberation Army spokesman that the TNI has breached an agreed combat zone in this escalating conflict.

Colonel Aidi disputed claims by a Liberation Army spokesman that the TNI has breached an agreed combat zone in this escalating conflict.

Referring to the Liberation Army as an armed criminal group, he said its style is guerilla fighting which knows no limits, accusing it of cowardice.

The TNI has also urged Papua’s provincial and district governments to not be silent about the conflict.

Colonel Aidi said it was the duty of such office holders to honour their commitment to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

Source: RadioNZ

31 people have been killed in West Papua. Why?

Indonesia formalised its sovereignty over the region in 1969 through a vote by about 1,000 community leaders. May 1, 2013. (AP)

The construction workers were shot dead by separatist rebels in Indonesia’s Papua province, marking the region’s deadliest bout of violence in years.

What happened?

Every December 1, West Papuan separatists pay homage to what they call their ‘independence day’.

Many Papuans consider this date the anniversary of their independence from the Dutch —  the commemoration of which has been banned by Indonesia which controls West Papua as a semi-autonomous territory. 

The Papuans raise the Morning Star flag, their symbol of independence, which has also been banned by Indonesia. 

However, this year’s banned independence parade was photographed by construction workers from an Indonesian state-owned contractor. Witnesses said the action by the workers angered the separatists.

Gunmen —  allegedly rebels —  stormed the government construction site in response a day later, killing 31 construction workers and a soldier.

The rebels have led a decades-long insurgency against Jakarta’s rule. 

These events come as more than 500 Papuan activists were arrested in a nationwide police crackdown that coincided with rallies on December 1.

Efforts to retrieve more bodies from the weekend attack on a Papua construction site were halted after soldiers clashed with fighters from the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). December 6, 2018.

Efforts to retrieve more bodies from the weekend attack on a Papua construction site were halted after soldiers clashed with fighters from the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). December 6, 2018. (Reuters)

How did this start? 

It began, as many conflicts do, with colonisation. 

West Papua was under Dutch control until 1961 when it temporarily ceded the island to Indonesia. 

Under a US-brokered agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands in 1963, the region would be under Indonesian administration until a plebiscite was held under which West Papuans could carry out their own process of self-determination. 

From 1963 onwards, life under Indonesian rule was brutal for some. 

“Indonesian administration consisted of imprisonment, torture, killing and the theft of everything on which officials and soldiers could lay hands,” George Monbiot wrote for The Guardian.

“As the US embassy noted, around 95 percent of the people of West Papua supported independence. To encourage them to change their minds they were bombed, shelled and strafed, bayoneted and beaten to death,” he said.

The plebiscite called the Act of Free Choice was eventually held in 1969 but was widely seen as anything but free. 

According to Human Rights Watch: “Some 1,022 Papuan representatives, reportedly hand-picked by Jakarta, were convened under Indonesian military supervision, and asked to choose whether or not they wanted integration with Indonesia.

“The result was unanimously in favor of integration.”

Reports say Indonesian forces bribed these hand-picked representatives and then threatened to kill them and their families if they voted contrary to Indonesia’s interests. 

Most West Papuans were not happy with this —  they call it The Act of No choice instead. 

The results of the independence vote remain contested today however, the international community recognises West Papua as part of Indonesian territory, a province. The region was granted special autonomy by Indonesia in 2001, but West Papuans are still displeased with the status quo.

Indonesia, is accused of taking the results and running with them. The use of the Morning Star flag —  a flag that was created when awaiting independence from the Dutch —  was banned, along with any attempt to commemorate West Papua’s independence, placing punitive measures for these acts under the umbrella of treason. 

There is a heavy security presence in the region that acts to stamp out protest. 


For years, a low-level insurgency has plagued mineral-rich West Papua, which is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia. May 1, 2008. (AP)

How has this impacted West Papuans?

The conflict in Indonesia is the country’s deadliest; violence in the province occurs on a frequent basis, according to the International Crisis Group. It is estimated that over the last fifty years, 500,000 West Papuans have died at the hands of Indonesian forces. 

West Papuans are now subject to high-level surveillance and intimidation at the hands of Indonesian forces while many languish in prison where they are subject to torture. 

An independence movement and low-level insurgency have been simmering ever since the disputed 1969 vote and efforts to quash them by Indonesian forces have only strengthened opposition. West Papuans see it as the colonisation of their lands and Indonesia’s various development projects as a way to exert more control over the region.

“A common sequence of events in Indonesia is a fight or traffic accident, mob anger against the person responsible, and inappropriate responses from badly-trained police or soldiers. In other parts of Indonesia, this can lead to attacks on police stations or military posts,” said the International Crisis Group. 

“In Papua, it reinforces the image of the military and police (and many Papuans do not distinguish between the two) as oppressors and contributes to support for the independence movement.” 

However, most West Papuans campaign through peaceful means. They press for independence on social media and at mass rallies —  mainly through the umbrella group Free Papua Movement. 

West Papua's morning star flag has been used as a separatist group symbol. April 22, 2016.

West Papua’s morning star flag has been used as a separatist group symbol. April 22, 2016. (AP)

What does Indonesia say? 

Indonesia argues that the region is part of its territorial integrity but West Papua is home to natural resources that bring money to the Southeast Asian archipelago. 

The Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine in the region is one of the country’s largest taxpayers

In fact, some of the violence has been centred on protests against the Freeport McMoRan mine —  a frequent flashpoint in the local struggle for independence and a bigger share of the region’s rich resources.

Many in the national government also see the situation in West Papua as an affront to their territorial integrity.

Indonesia’s government, for decades, has a policy of sending Javanese and other Indonesians to settle in Papua,

In the past few years, President Joko Widodo has amped up development projects centred around better infrastructure and connectivity with the aim of reducing isolation in the region. 

As these infrastructure projects continue to develop they also increase dependency on the Indonesian government —  something West Papuans may not necessarily want.

“We don’t need road construction from Indonesia. When we become independent we can make our own roads that are as good as the ones in developed countries,” Free Papua Movement spokesman Sebby Sambon told Reuters.

Widodo also visits West Papua a few times a year, but as one activist put it, this approach by Jakarta is akin to “chasing away the smoke but not trying to put out the fire”

.Source: TRT W


West Papua Flag Raised in Port Vila, Vanuatu

West Papua Flag Raised in Port Vila, Republic of Vanuatu

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in partnership with the Vanuatu West Papua Association and the South Moluccas association have joined in with West Papuans around the globe to commemorate the West Papua Day, celebrated annually on the 1st of December at the Chiefs Nakamal compound yesterday morning.

West Papua first raised its Morning Star flag on December 1, 1961.

The celebration began with the President of Malvatumauri Council, Chief Willie Grey Plasua, making a welcome speech to the special guests and the public to witness the flag raising and commemorating the day for the people of West Papua.

A moment of silence was conducted in memory of the loved ones who have died in the struggle for self determination.

Chief Plasua appealed to the churches, NGOs, the public and Melanesia as a whole to unite always and stand beside West Papua’s struggle for freedom.

He reaffirmed to the ULMWP delegates that they have the full support of his council.

Chairman of West Papua Association and Reconciliation Committee, Pastor Alan Nafuki, said that he believes the time has come for West Papua to achieve their right to self determination and their freedom.

He said through God alone anything is possible.

Government representative and special envoy to the West Papua Movement, Lora Lini said that Vanuatu, a small country with a loud voice, has been in the frontline always and will continue to advocate towards West Papua’s self determination and freedom.

She said that only Vanuatu can feel the urgent need and struggle the West Papuans are feeling as Vanuatu came out from such struggles from two colonial powers in 1980.

Dr Alexander Manuputty, Leader of the South Moluccas acknowledged the ULMWP role of pushing for self-determination.

He says it is time West Papua, South Moluccas and Vanuatu build mutual friendship and trust towards the principle of equal rights and the self determination of the people in West Papua and South Moluccas.

Andy Ayamiseba, a long time Vanuatu resident, said that it is time youths take up responsibility in the struggle as the time is near for them to step down and allow active strong advocators back the West Papua movement. He encourages unity always among youths for success.

Paula Makabory, ULMWP executive member acknowledged Vanuatu for its continuous support and said that the flag raising ceremony is not just an identity for West Papuans but also a stamp of the existence of West Papua in the global arena.

The day saw youths performing dramas and skits to celebrate the special day for West Papuans followed by refreshments.

West Papuans want to be free from Indonesian rule and the people of Vanuatu have pledged their support to the people of West Papua.

Source: The Vanuatu Daily Post

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Christmas Message from the Solomon Islands Prime Minister in Honiara

Hon. Rick Hou, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.

BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HONOURABLE RICK HOUENIPWELA.

My fellow Solomon Islanders, let me on behalf of the Government extend warm Christmas greetings to you all.
I also convey greetings from my family to all of you: men, women, boys and girls throughout this country, Solomon Islands, as well as those of you living abroad.

My good people, as we approach the end of 2017, and upon reflection, the year has been a very challenging one. Indeed it has been a difficult year for many of you.

You may have lost a loved one, you may have lost valuable property, or lost a job, or could not find one, and for our Youths perhaps you many have not got a government scholarship your were looking for, or for a businessperson, you have not got that business deal that you were looking for, or in the family a relationship may have ended up badly, or a terrible accident has happened in the family and for many you are still struggling daily trying to make ends meet.

As you know, the Government has had its share of challenges as well. There are many pressing issues that could not be attended to. Government finances have been in bad shape it could not deliver on its intended development goals. The country had experienced a long period of political instability. The economy has been going through trying times. And of course these challenges have not gone away.

At the same time, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that despite these circumstances the year has been conquered. Despite the obstacles, you have soldiered on, you continue to persevere, you keep walking, you have taken these hard times as a stepping stone in life – you keep moving on, you just walk on, and on.

My dear people, in times like these we give thanks to God. We should acknowledge his daily provisions.

I would like to encourage all of us to remain steadfast, strong and positive. Let us not dwell on the past, but be positive about tomorrow and the future. To have the spirit that keeps out the negativity and embrace positivity.

I encourage us all to maintain that positive spirit – about our families, communities and about our nation.

Good citizens, Christmas is a time to spend with families and loved ones. This is the time we exchange gifts, share laughter and enjoy the festivities. It is a time for celebrations. However, in our celebrations, we must also take time to remember the hungry, the sick, the needy, the marginalized, and those that are suffering among us.

It is a time when we must act out of love towards our neighbor. The weak and the disadvantaged. It is a time to do good works in our neighborhood, in our families, in our tribal groups, and in our communities.
In that spirit we remember the sick and the blind, the lame, including those of us with ‘special needs’ and especially not forgetting our children.

Let us remember our elderly and those who have lost their loved ones. It is time we must demonstrate God’s love in action this Christmas.

God’s Love – the Christmas Theme

But above all, my fellow Citizens, Christmas is about the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time we stop, reflect and acknowledge God’s intervention in our affairs. This is the time we should acknowledge that without God, humankind is lost.

My dear people, God’s love for us is the central theme of Christmas. This is the reason for our celebrations. We are hereby challenged to love like God loved us.

Indeed, we are called to love our neighbors just as Christ loved us. In that spirit each of us is called to serve our family, our village, our community and ultimately our Nation.

In that regard I wish to leave with you a few thoughts on why the story of Christmas is the good news.

My good people, the first Christmas was perfectly timed by God, happening just when He wanted it. We find in Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 4 verse 4 which reads,
“When the right time came, God sent His son…”

So what time is Christmas this year? You find the answer in four statements the angel said to the shepherds at the first Christmas in the Gospel of (Luke 2:10-14).

1. it’s time to release your fears! The first thing the angel said was, “Do not be afraid!” Fear is your greatest barrier to knowing God and fulfilling his purposes for your life. Fear is a self-imposed prison that keeps you from living the life God intends for you. So whatever you are afraid of – Christmas is the time to let it go.

2. it’s time to renew your faith! The angel said “I bring you good news with great joy, and it is for everyone!” The Good News of Jesus keeps getting better because the bad news of the world keeps getting worse. The Good News is that God loves you, he created you for a purpose. God has really long range plans for your life! Christmas is time to come back to God.

3. it’s time to receive forgiveness! Next the angel said, “Today a Saviour has been born for you; He is Christ the Lord!” If our greatest need was education, God would have sent a teacher. If our greatest need was health, he would have sent a doctor. If our greatest need was financial, he would have sent an economist. But our greatest need is forgiveness, so God sent a Saviour. It doesn’t matter what wrong you’ve done, you can receive forgiveness through Jesus

4. it’s time to rebuild relationships! Finally the angel said, “Peace on earth, and goodwill to all people.” Once you haveve accepted God’s forgiveness, He wants you to forgive everyone else. Who do you need to offer forgiveness to this Christmas? It’s time to make peace! Time to rebuild relationships.
My fellow citizens, I believe that is the greatest news, and challenge about this Christmas.

Before I conclude, let me remind all of us that there are also many who will be unable to join in our celebrations. We should pay particular tribute to our men and women who will be maintaining normal and essential services throughout the holiday period. Most especially those serving in the clinics and hospitals, as well as those helping to maintain safety and security.

As well we thank the dedicated men and women in the emergency services. There are many in public service as well as in the private sector who are engaged in ensuring essential services continue to function during the holiday season.

So as you celebrate the festivities with family and friends, let us acknowledge and appreciate these folks who will not be able to do so due to their call of duties.

In conclusion, allow me again to now wish you all the best of this Christmas.
On this note I want to express Christmas greetings and sincere best wishes from my family to:
• The Governor General and his family
• The Speaker of the National Parliament and his family
• The Chief Justice and his family
• Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers & their families
• Leader of the Official Opposition Group and his family
• Leader of the Independent Group and his family
• The Churches and Faith-based organizations
• Government Ministries, Departments and other Public Offices
• Provincial Premiers, Members of Provincial Governments, Chiefs and Village Elders
• The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF)
• The Judiciary and Legal Services and the Legal Fraternity
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Our Development Partners and Friends
• The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and their members;
• Our Farmers and Fishermen in our Rural Areas;
• Our Shipping Operators, and other Transport Services Providers
• Management and Staff of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) and Authorities
• Non-Government Organizations
• Media Organizations
• Our Pensioners and Retirees
• All the men and women, boys and girls throughout Solomon Islands.
On behalf of the Solomon Islands Government I express our profound gratitude for your support and cooperation in helping to build this country.
I sincerely hope and pray that your experience during this Christmas and New Year festive season will be one of PEACE, LOVE and JOY.
Wherever you celebrate Christmas this year, it is my hope and prayer that you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS AND MAY GOD BLESS SOLOMON ISLANDS.

Joe Natuman: We are All Melanesians

A jubilant crowd marches to the historic Crow's Nest on a summit topping Port Vila, the new home of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Dan McGarry

A jubilant crowd marches to the historic Crow's Nest on a summit topping Port Vila, the new home of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Dan McGarry
A jubilant crowd marches to the historic Crow’s Nest on a summit topping Port Vila, the new home of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Dan McGarry

“We are all Melanesian,” said Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman. “We are family. We regard it as an obligation to help one another.”

Mr Natuman recounted the history of West Papua from post-WWII days, and remarked at the end that the struggle for independence was not only a struggle against colonialism, but a struggle against corporate and commercial interests too.

“It’s not just Sukarno and Suharto, it’s also American big business that’s involved,” Mr Natuman said. “We’re not just fighting colonial powers. It’s big business too.”

This is the first time a senior figure in the Vanuatu government has publicly criticised the USA and its mining interests in relation to the issue of West Papuan independence.

The nation’s sense of duty in helping to make all of Melanesia free was made manifest yesterday when the government of Vanuatu officially transferred the historic Crow’s Nest building to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

The building will be shared with local creative collective Further Arts. Mr Natuman is a lifelong supporter of West Papuan independence.

He was the first speaker in the ceremony marking the official opening of the West Papuan mission in Vanuatu.

He was joined by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Parliamentary Secretaries Johnny Koanapo and Andrew Napuat, as well as the President of the Malvatumauri, the head of the Vanuatu Christian Council and dozens of Vanuatu-based independence activists.

This week also marks the annual conclave of the ULMWP leadership, along with senior militants as well.

Internationally known figures Octovianus Mote, Benny Wenda and several other independence leaders were also present. Some declined to be identified or photographed due to fear of retaliation by Indonesian authorities or their proxies.

The day was nonetheless a happy one, and a few drops of rain were insufficient to quench the spirits of a movement that, for the first time in two generations, finally has a place to call home.

Vanuatu Daily Post

Melanesian leaders condemn UN for turning ‘a deaf ear’ to West Papua atrocities

Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai, says the people of West Papua must be allowed the right to self-determination. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Solomon Islands and Vanuatu leaders want investigation into alleged abuses and support for independence campaign

Charlot Salwai
Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai, says the people of West Papua must be allowed the right to self-determination. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Melanesian leaders have accused the United Nations of having “turned a deaf ear” to human rights atrocities in the Indonesian province of Papua and urged the world to support the region’s campaign for independence.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, the prime ministers of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu called on the UN’s Human Rights Council to formally investigate long-standing allegations of human rights abuses in the provinces.

Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai, said the people of West Papua must be allowed the right to self-determination, to free themselves of the “yoke of colonialism”.

“For half a century now the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence and arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua, perpetrated by Indonesia, but the international community has turned a deaf ear to the appeals for help. We urge the Human Rights Council to investigate these cases.

“We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination and to jointly with Indonesia put an end to all kinds of violence and find common ground with the nationals to facilitate putting together a process which will enable them to freely express their choice.”

The Solomons leader, Manasseh Sogavare, said the UN’s sustainable development goal motto of “no one left behind” would be “synonymous to empty promises unless we in the United Nations take active steps to address the plight of the people of West Papua”.

“Failing this, we as a family of nations will become complicit in perpetuating the sufferings and becoming blind to the injustices, missing yet another golden opportunity to remain true to the saying of ‘leaving no one behind’.”

Indonesian-controlled Papua and West Papua form the western half of the island of New Guinea. Political control of the region has been contested for more than half a century and Indonesia has consistently been accused of gross human rights violations and violent suppression of the region’s independence movement.

The people indigenous to the province are Melanesian, ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia and more closely linked to the people of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Formerly the Netherlands New Guinea, Papua was retained by the Dutch after Indonesian independence in 1945 but the province was annexed by Jakarta in 1963 and Indonesia control was formalised by a 1969 referendum widely condemned as having been fixed by the Suharto government.

Known as Irian Jaya until 2000, the province has also been split into two provinces, Papua and West Papua, since 2003.

Many Papuans consider the Indonesian takeover to have been an illegal annexation and the OPM (Free Papua Movement) has led a low-level insurgency for decades.

That insurgency has long been the excuse for significant military involvement in Papua.

With the heightened police and military presence, there have been reports of security force abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, excessive use of force and mistreatment of peaceful protesters.

At least 37 Papuans remain behind bars for peaceful acts of free expression or expressing solidarity with the independence movement.

There is little independent scrutiny of the situation in West Papua, human rights organisations and journalists are restricted from visiting.

On taking office in 2014, the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, pledged to boost economic development of Papua and he –ostensibly – eased restrictions on external scrutiny of the region, though travel strictures have not substantially changed. He visited the province in May.

Last month Jokowi met with Papuan civil society, church and customary leaders to discuss establishing a formal mechanism for debating Papua’s long-standing issues. However, Jakarta opposes independence and regards retention of Papua as a fundamental to its “territorial integrity”.

 

West Papua protest at Forum summit in Apia

Unasa Iuni Sapolu. Photo: RNZI/

A small, but vocal, group of protesters gathered this morning outside the Sheraton Aggies Resort in Apia, venue of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, to raise awareness about the plight of West Papua and its people.

West Papua independence movement protest campaign in Samoa. Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia
West Papua independence movement protest campaign in Samoa. Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Protest organiser Jerome Mika said the protest was to ensure Pacific leaders did not ignore the issue of West Papua.

Mika, who is with the local Samoa First Union, said this was also a call on some Pacific leaders to join the seven Pacific countries pushing to resist West Papua with the United Nations Decolonisation committee.

The seven countries are Nauru, Marshall Islands, Solomons, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Tonga.

Unasa Iuni Sapolu. Photo: RNZI/
Unasa Iuni Sapolu. Photo: RNZI/

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Forum General Secretary Dame Meg Taylor visited the protest and reaffirmed their right to protest but did not speak on the issue of West Papua.

Officials rubbish West Papua protest

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu , 07 September 2017

 

A senior staff member of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Franz Albert Joku, has rubbished the peaceful protest highlighting the plight of West Papua at the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, this week.

 

Mr Joku was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, Tantowi Yahya, during a press conference where they responded to the protest.

 

Ambassador Yahya said the protest concerned them greatly.

 

“The Pacific community should stick to the main agenda of the conference, which is the Blue Pacific. You know everything is connected to that,” he said.

 

Mr Yahya said their concern is that the protest could have overshadowed the main agendas of the conference.

“In our perspective, talking about West Papua in this conference is not the place because from the beginning there is no agenda as such.”

 

In the progress of the press conference, the Ambassador and Mr Joku’s voices were raised, causing Police Officers in the vicinity to approach the area

 

where the meeting was held.

 

“No! We just stick to the main agenda… but not the Papuans,” Mr.Yahya said.

 

Mr Joku intervened noting the West Papua issue is not new to the Pacific.

 

“It’s regrettable that Pacific Islanders all of the sudden want to address the Papua issue, now,” he said. “The Papua issue has been at the forefront since the late 50s and early 60s.

 

“We have seen our worst; where the hell were the Pacific Island nations when we really needed that kind of expression and that kind of concern coming from them?

 

“Now they are questioning the Independence and Colonisation referendum for Papua that have been relegated to the history pages. A lot of constitutional changes have taken place since.

 

“And we’re not on the same part as you have had previously… so we are not on that path. We’re about constitutional empowerment and we’re about emancipation, we want to develop our land, we will not be dictated by any forum or any other country because we needed you, and where were you?”

 

Mr Joku insisted the forum is not the place for the issue.

 

“Papua is very close to our heart and we will not be dictated by anyone. We Papuans, in Papua, will decide what we want to do.

 

“We’re under going constitutional mechanism and constitutional changes, we want to empower ourselves constitutionally, politically, economically and socially. When we needed the Pacific, when we needed Australia and when we needed New Zealand, you have not come to our aid.

 

“So we have worked our own arrangement within and that is what we are pursuing.”

 

Mr Joku added, “We’ve never seen Samoans and Fijians. And don’t pretend you want to help us. We know what we want. Have a balanced article and invite them to visit West Papua.

 

“You feed yourself with what you read on the internet, we invite you to come to Indonesia.

 

“We are not saying Papua is perfect, but let us attend to our own problems, do not provoke us, I have spent 14 years in PNG as a refugee with my family, we know exactly the subject that we raised, and up until today, we have gone without any help from you guys.”

Speech by Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP – Prime Minister Upon Election to Form Government

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Elect

In the 10th Parliament of Papua New Guinea – 2 August 2017

Mr Speaker,

Firstly, may I congratulate you, on behalf of the House, on your election as Speaker of the Tenth Parliament of Papua New Guinea.

Mr. Speaker,

It is an honour to be elected by the Members of this Honourable House, and the people of our Nation, as Prime Minister.

We are proud to form the Government of the Tenth Parliament of Papua New Guinea.

Now that we have formed Government, we won’t be discouraging the views that are different to ours.

We want to encourage debate that will continue to unite our Nation.

We will be a Government that listens more, talks less and works harder at every opportunity.

We will be a Government that learns from its mistakes.

Mr. Speaker,

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every Member who has been elected to this Honourable House.

To all Members of the last Parliament, who are no longer representatives in this House, I commend you on your service to our nation.

Mr. Speaker,

This year we have had a very vibrant elections.

While our elections are robust, their successful outcome is a demonstration of the strength of our democracy.

Yes, there have been challenges in this election, but this has also been the most peaceful elections in many parts of our country.

It has also been an enormous undertaking for election officials, scrutineers and members of our disciplinary forces, and everyone involved.

There have been difficulties at the administrative and organisational level.

This Government commits to a full review of electoral processes, that will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to share their views.

I commend the Electoral Commissioner, the Police Commissioner, and all staff involved in this effort.

I further thank election observers, international and domestic, for participating in this process.

Mr Speaker,

Over the past three months of this election, we have listened to our people.

They have spoken loudly through the ballot box.

And, as we form Government today, it is not a time to celebrate.

We are humble in victory given to us, and now we get back to work.

In Alotau, this week, Members of our Coalition have developed a Second Alotau Accord.

Under the theme “Strongim wok na Sindaun bilong ol Pipol,” we have agreed upon a substantial set of policies that will advance our Nation.

In Alotau, our Coalition agreed that the people of this Nation want a Government that will cater for their wellbeing through economic empowerment.

They want a Government that will delivery of quality services in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

And our people want improved security, and the highest level of good Governance and transparency.

We promise to continue improving the quality of our free education program, and to the continued expansion of universal healthcare.

We will build capacity in our disciplined services by strengthening their leadership, and we will further improve law and order around our country.

Our Government will maintain focus on the critical infrastructure in the country that must be delivered if we are to move our country forward in terms of development.

We will build and maintain more roads and highways, more hospitals, airports and sea ports, and other public infrastructure.

In this coming term of Government, we will extend further respect and responsibility to the provinces of our country.

We will facilitate greater decentralisation and autonomy, by devolving more power from Waigani to our districts and provinces.

These are all some of the central pillars that bind together the 84 commitments, that our Government makes to you, through the Second Alotau Accord.

Mr. Speaker,

Regardless of the outcome of this election, and regardless of where we sit on this floor of Parliament, our people and Nation’s interests must be our common goal.

No Government is ever perfect, no Government delivers policy without challenges.

In our last Government, we admit where we could have done things better – and we make improvements.

We will continue to be a Government that Governs for all citizens and not only for those who supported us.

We must unite all of our people for the betterment of our country.

There is no doubt that Papua New Guinea is changing – and it is changing for the better.

So this Government will continue to dream big, and to do our best for our people.

We will draw from our past and work harder for our future.

I congratulate all Members of Parliament who have been elected to this Honourable House.

I thank you for your support in electing our Government.

Again, let me stress, our doors are always open, we embrace your constructive views, and we look forward to your support as we advance our Nation’s interests.

Thank You.

International Day Of Solidarity For Free West Papua

3

March 18, 2017

Washington, DC

Website: WPAN

World-wide protest demanding that Indonesia end military colonization of West Papua and free all West Papuan political prisoners.
Saturday, March 18, 1 p.m– 2:30 p.m.
Indonesian Embassy, Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, March 18, from 1:00 p.m to 2:30 p.m., the Free West Papua Political Prisoners Campaign Team in Washington DC will rise in solidarity with activist groups around the world in protesting Indonesia’s brutal colonization of West Papua, and demanding the immediate, unconditional release of all Papuan political prisoners.

The Free West Papua Political Prisoners Campaign Team is a group of academics and human rights activists who are willing to stand up for what is right and work toward a free West Papua that is independent from Military and corporate colonization.

We work to raise awareness about the issue because we believe that knowledge can change the countries fate!

Human Rights Watch reports that Indonesia has incarcerated nearly 200 activists from Maluku and West Papua for peacefully voicing their patriotism and political views. One of those refugees, Herman Wainggai, here at GMU as a visiting scholar, leader of nonviolent struggle in West Papua, was imprisoned for more than two years after daring to raise the West Papuan flag, and his uncle died in prison for the same reason.

Please share this event and invite your friends to help spread the word. We hope to see many of you outside of the Indonesian Embassy in D.C

Thank you!
Free West Papua Political Prisoners Campaign Team- DC.
Stand up for West Papua.
Stand with West Papuans against genocide and torture.

Author praised for opening readers’ eyes to West Papua’s repression

By Pacific Media Watch editor Kendall Hutt, March 15, 2017

Bookstore owners, writers, authors, family, friends and a group hopeful of West Papuan independence squeezed into the Women’s Bookshop in Ponsonby last night to celebrate the work of young New Zealand author Bonnie Etherington and her novel The Earth Cries Out.

Not only is the novel being celebrated and praised for Etherington’s mastery of the written word, but because of its ability to make the public more aware of life in West Papua, a region controversially ruled by Indonesia since the 1960s.

Pacific Media Watch editor Kendall Hutt (left) with author Bonnie Etherington. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Pacific Media Watch editor Kendall Hutt (left) with author Bonnie Etherington. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Pacific Media Watch editor Kendall Hutt (left) with author Bonnie Etherington. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Plagued by media freedom and human rights violations, many media freedom and human rights organisations and several Pacific nations have condemned the widespread arrests and imprisonment of West Papuans for non-violent expression of their political views.

These are issues Etherington herself acknowledged speaking with Asia Pacific Report earlier this week, saying she wanted to show readers West Papua’s rich and diverse history, not only its complex political situation.

“I really wanted to show multiple sides of West Papua because it is so often forgotten or stereotyped by the rest of the world.”

This is something those who have already read The Earth Cries Out praise.

Harriet Allan, fiction publisher for Penguin Books New Zealand, commended Etherington in a speech on her ability to provide insight into West Papua through the eyes of a child, that of female protagonist Ruth.

“As Ruth bears witness to what she sees, we too start to hear the voices that have been silenced by politics, sickness, violence and poverty.”

Like Ruth, we come away with a greater understanding of this country and its diverse people and also of ourselves and the bonds of love and friendship.”

 

‘Shed some light’

Although she has not had the chance to read her sister’s entire novel, Etherington’s younger sister, Aimee, says what she has read is very similar to how she and her sister experienced West Papua.

“With the descriptions, I felt like I was back there. She’s done a really good job of capturing how it feels, I guess.”

Aimee Etherington says she hopes her sister’s novel spreads awareness of West Papua.

“Most people that I’ve spoken to don’t really know that it exists, so it will be good to shed some light as to what’s going on there and, I guess, giving a bit of insight on how as New Zealanders and Australians we can actually do something about it.”

 

‘Almost experiencing it’

Like Harriet Allan, Women’s Bookshop owner Carol Beu loved Ruth’s voice.

“I think becoming aware of the situation in Papua through the eyes of this child, Ruth, is really quite special”, Beu told the audience.

“The way it’s revealed, it’s fascinating.”

Beu admits this was also “quite shocking”, due to Etherington’s ability to place the reader in the moment.

“You’re almost experiencing it.”

Penguin fiction publisher Harriet Allan (left) with author Bonnie Etherington. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Penguin fiction publisher Harriet Allan (left) with author Bonnie Etherington. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Bea also acknowledged those in the audience who were supporting the book on more of a political level, such as West Papua Action Auckland spokesperson Maire Leadbeater.

Bea told those gathered she found the politics of The Earth Cries Out “quite astonishing and wonderful”.

“It’s a book that makes you angry in many ways on a political level.”

Leadbeater herself, however, says she is looking forward to reading the novel.

 

Mister Pip comparisons

“I think looking at countries through a literary perspective can be very helpful at times. I can’t help thinking of the book Mister Pip, about Bougainville and how amazingly helpful that was I think in terms of people understanding the conflict.

“It’s done in a fictionalised way but it’s true to the situation, so I’m picking from what I’ve heard about the book it may achieve that as well.”

Leadbeater is not the only one to draw comparisons with Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip, however.

Tony Moores, owner of bookstore Poppies in Remuera, reached a similar conclusion.

“This is not Mister Pip, but the issues it deals with are quite similar, from a different perspective.”

 

Powerful, shocking

The Creative Hub founder, John Cranna, who also noted ties with Mister Pip, praised Etherington on her talent after listening to several excerpts read by Allan and Etherington herself.

“For such a young writer to be writing about such dramatic and shocking events, and to be pulling it off, is quite an achievement.

To write about violent death is … very hard in a reserved, powerful way, but she certainly did that very well.

Author praised for opening readers’ eyes to West Papua’s repression was originally published on PAPUAPost.com

Female Melanesian tattooists to make their mark in Spain

APReport – By Hele Ikimotu

A threatened tradition will get fresh focus when a female Melanesian tattoo collective takes up a Spanish invitation.

The group, Mage’au: Melanesian Marks, is made up of three women – Julia Mage’au Grey, Aisa Pokarop and Toria Maladina.

They will soon attend the Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival in Santa Ponsa, Spain.

Grey said the trip was important for the group as it gave them an opportunity to promote the significance of the Melanesian marks movement and revive it.

“Since 2012, we’ve been pushing awareness to bring back our marks for our women and our men, and basically the festival picked up on it,” she said.

Grey said the practice holds historic significance to her as a Papua New Guinean.

“Men in our communities see women for their worth, and in the past we used our marks as statements and reminders for our men to treat us with respect.”

But because the practice is nearing extinction, men do not have that reminder, she added.

“It’s negligent if we let that part of our culture go. That’s why we feel this trip to Spain is very important.”

‘Real privilege’
Ema Lavola, who had work done on her by Grey, said it was a “real privilege” to be wearing the traditional marks.

“When we mark our bodies, we are creating an interface between how the world perceives us and how we want the world to see us,” she said.

“For me, the tattoo is a way to remind me every day where I come from and what makes me different.”

Lavola said Mage’au and her team were “advocates and protectors of the integrity of these marks, making sure that the people who wear them are wearing them for the right reason”.

Reina Sutton – a friend of Grey and gallery co-ordinator at Fresh Gallery Otara – said artists like Grey help people reconnect with their culture.

“I think it’s a great thing that Julia and her team are doing with their work, getting those marks back before they’re lost.”

She said the opportunity for artists to showcase their work internationally is rewarding as it creates conversation about Pacific art being used as a platform of change.

“I’m a huge supporter of what my friends and creative family are doing and I’m super-proud.”

UN Decolonization Committee Urges U.S. To Refrain From ‘Harmful And Unproductive Activities’ In American Samoa

Committee releases 2017 Working Paper on American Samoa
Committee releases 2017 Working Paper on American Samoa

PIReport – By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, March 9, 2017) – The United Nations has “strongly urged” the United States to refrain from using American Samoa as, among other things, a tax haven as well as for harmful and unproductive activities, that are not aligned with the interest of the people of the territory, according to a UN report released this week.

The ‘Working Papers on American Samoa’ report was prepared by the Secretariat for the UN Decolonization Committee, which convenes annually — usually late May into early June — for the Pacific or Caribbean seminars. Last year the Pacific seminar was held in Managua, Nicaragua, but this year’s host country for the Caribbean seminar is not available on UN online records.

The working paper, or document, provides background information on each of the world’s 16 non-governing territories — including American Samoa. In the report, the UN General Assembly stressed the importance of fostering the economic and social sustainable development of the Territory by promoting, among other things, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, and fostering equitable social development.

It also stressed the importance of facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.

And it “strongly urged the administering power [the United States] to refrain from undertaking any kind of illicit, harmful and unproductive activities, including the use of the Territory as a tax haven, that are not aligned with the interest of the people of the Territory,” according to the report, which elaborated on what it meant by “illicit, harmful and unproductive activities.”

The General Assembly requests that American Samoa and the administering power take all measures necessary to protect and conserve the environment of the territory against any degradation, and once again requested the specialized agencies concerned to monitor environmental conditions in the Territory and to provide assistance to the territory, consistent with their prevailing rules of procedure.

It requested the Decolonization (or Special Committee of the 24) to continue to examine the question of American Samoa and to report it to the General Assembly.

American Samoa’s working papers provided a long summary of the Resolution on American Samoa adopted last December by the General Assembly. The resolution, according to the report, “reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of American Samoa to self-determination.”

It also reaffirmed that, in the process of the decolonization of American Samoa, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions.

And it further reaffirmed, “it was ultimately for the people of American Samoa to determine freely their future political status,” and called on the U.S, in cooperation with the territorial government and appropriate bodies of the UN system, to develop political education programs for the territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.

The UN says it welcomes the territorial government’s work with respect to moving forward on political status, local autonomy and self-governance issues with a view to making political and economic progress, and also welcomed the establishment in April 2016 of the Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations.

It recalled Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s statement two years ago that American Samoa should remain on the list of non-self-governing territories, under the purview of the Special Committee, until such time as its people have exercised their right to self-determination.

Also two years ago, the governor had extended an invitation to the Decolonization Committee to send a visiting mission to the territory and the UN called on the U.S to facilitate such a mission if the territorial government so desires.

American Samoa’s 18-page document covers the areas of political and legal issues, the constitution, the current budget, economic conditions (e.g. fisheries, agriculture and tourism) and social conditions such as labor, immigration, education, and public health. Samoa News has covered many of the issues over the past 12 months.

ASG’S WORK

Since late last year, the governor has encouraged the Political Status Office to disseminate information to the youth about the territory’s political status with the US so they can become better informed about the issue.

For the past several weeks the office, headed by Tapa’au Dr. Daniel Aga, has conducted public awareness presentations at public high schools and more schools have shown interest in hearing the presentation.

The office is looking at this summer to begin outreach work at villages and workplaces.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

UN Highlights Arrests, Killings in Indonesia’s Papua Region

Recent tensions have been connected to Jakarta’s planned extension of the region’s Special Autonomy Law.

The United Nations has once again voiced its consternation about the tense political situation in Indonesia’s Papua region, after months of escalating tensions between the authorities and pro-independence activists.

In a statement dated November 30, U.N. Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani pointed to a rash of violence and arrests that have taken place since the killing by separatists of 16 laborers working on the Trans-Papua highway in 2018.

“Military and security forces have been reinforced in the region and there have been repeated reports of extra-judicial killings, excessive use of force, arrest and continuous harassment and intimidation of protesters and human rights defenders,” the U.N. statement claims.

In particular, Shamdasani referenced a November 22 incident in which a 17-year-old was shot dead and another 17-year-old injured in an alleged police shootout in the Gome district of West Papua province. This came after a “disturbing” series of killings of at least six individuals in September and October, including activists and church workers. At least two members of the Indonesian security forces were also killed in clashes.

Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces, which form the western half of the island of New Guinea, have seen a simmering separatist conflict since Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in a deeply flawed referendum in 1969. The Indonesian state’s attempts to quash the insurgency led by the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM) have resulted in a perennial crop of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, restrictions on residents’ movement and freedom of expression, and even drawn accusations of genocide.

Despite its longevity, the situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua rarely garners sustained international attention, in large part because the Indonesian government has made it hugely difficult for outside journalists and human rights monitors to gain access to the region.

Much of the recent discord has been linked to the Special Autonomy Law, which was passed in 2001 in order to give Papua and West Papua provinces more political autonomy and a larger share of revenue from the region’s rich natural resources.

The Special Autonomy Law is set to expire next year, and many independence-inclined Papuans have opposed its renewal, claiming that it has been used to short circuit aspirations for independence while doing little to improve the lot of ordinary people. In late September, police fired live ammunition in order to disperse crowds protesting against the Special Autonomy Law in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. Demonstrators were also demanding a referendum on secession from Indonesia, something promised to the country at the end of Dutch colonial rule in 1962. Many were holding the Papuan national flag – the Bintang Kejora, or “Morning Star.”

The U.N. statement also pointed to the arrests of at least 84 people on November 17. These included Wensislaus Fatuban, a well-known human rights defender and human rights advisor to the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua, or MRP) and seven MRP staff members. The arrests came ahead of a public consultation organized by the MRP on the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law. Fatuban and the other council members were released the following day.

The recent violence is just the latest sign of the wide gulf separating the national aspirations of the Papuans, press-ganged into the Indonesian republic in 1969, and the central Indonesian government, which has battled a rash of regional rebellions since independence, and views each as a potentially existential challenge to the integrity of the republic.

As the U.N. rightly points out, there is an “urgent need for a platform for meaningful and inclusive dialogue with the people of Papua and West Papua, to address longstanding economic, social and political grievances.” Absent this understanding, Papua will likely remain one of Southeast Asia’s most sadly intractable conflicts.AUTHORS

STAFF AUTHOR

Sebastian Strangio

Sebastian Strangio is Southeast Asia Editor at The Diplomat

James Donald: I never voted for Prime Minister Hon. James Marape.

Papua New Guineans who watched on the day we voted to change government in 2019 would recall I didn’t vote for James Marape, Member for Tari Pori. I seconded the nomination for Sir Mekere Morauta as a PM candidate and it was only seven of us who voted for Sir Mekere Morauta with majority for James Marape.

Marape in my honest view was no difference to Peter Oniel under PNC banner. Marape was PO’s right hand man who did everything under the sun and equally was responsible for our country’s damage when they ruled within 8 years. The first thing that Marape did when he took office was color coded himself with a good Christian principles to attract the public perception as getting attention of praise from all citizens. After he has managed the public perception then played around with the key government institutions and with the habit trying to maneuver his cabinet as a result there was a huge fall out of cabinet members recently. A question to ask why is it that the huge number of cabinet Ministers have defected to opposition? Some of these Ministers are members of the Pangu Party. They have their own reasoning why they defected. In my culture if such thing happens means something is wrong with me as head of the family. They are Ministers in the cabinet while me as a back bencher I have my own reasoning as well.

I moved simply to add my number to move a vote of no confidence against the current Prime Minister and put a pause on the continuing digging deeper the hole that Treasurer Hon. Ian Lingstucky always refers to. I didn’t move to join a Belden Namah neither Peter O’niel. Should anyone in the opposition have an excess baggage or legacy issues well that’s their problem and let the law deal with them.

The hole was dug that time by O’niel together with Marape and now it’s getting deeper than you imagined. The hole continues to be dug deeper and deeper every day by the guy who was part of the previous regime. This is because, he well understudied all through. Everyone thought this government would be any different but it continues to repeat the same habit it inherited.

Some national, provincial and district issues which I am not content with that made me to move are;

  • Comparing the debt incurred in 3 years period while in office for a one parliament term (KM)
  • total PNG Debt accumulated 1975-2012 is K8.35Billion
  • NA government (2002-04) is K200 Million
  • PNC government (2012-14) is K6.305Billion
  • Pangu government (2019 -21) will be K12.797Billion.
  • Comparing the borrowings which government has done more borrowing creating huge debt just by comparing the 3 year period.
  • First mistake by this government is that it is borrowing to repay the previous debts or loan. Is it a right thing to do in any business practice? In my view it will not make any difference when you go around the circle chasing your own tail.
  • Secondly, this government is announcing that the loans are interest free. Where on earth will lender give you interest free. It’s illogical in any lending terms. There will be some terms and conditions attached.
  • All this borrowing was spent only on paying goods and services. Nothing to show for on the ground and we didn’t invest on any project that will have economic returns on investment. Many cronies and few smart thieves have become overnight millionaires in the short space of 18 months.
  • Paying their own tribes men and cronies with hefty contracts. Few electorates under this government got more infrastructure projects while others are not. For instance one electorate got close to half a billion kina infrastructure projects and one province gets NEC approval for close to K300M hospital project.These electorates and Provinces has got nothing to offer and contribute to the nation’s purse and yet the poor resource rich Districts or Provinces become bystanders. Where is the fair distribution of nation’s wealth.
  • Many commitments done during the last 18 months throughout the country and yet we waiting those commitments. My electorate was the first District out of 89 Districts this government visited after its formation and infront of my people, amongst many commitments was K20M for Kiunga – Nomad road. Not one single toea has been made available after I wrote 3 follow up letters on all the commitments. Other colleague MPs where this government visited their Districts through out the country too are still waiting. Many commitments done for Western Province including our Provincial head quarter Daru which is currently facing huge problems with no power, no water, and fast deteriorating infrastructures beyond repair. My other three colleague provincial leaders (Governor, SF MP, MF MP) are in the ruling Pangu Party for which I look across at them to fight hard for our Province and yet we are still treated minority or overlooked. Are the three colleagues insignificant and can’t be heard in the ruling party or are their mouths shut with something else. In the last 9th Parliament, all three MPs (Boka Kondra, Roy Biyama, Late Aida Ganasi) were in the ruling PNC government and yet not much prominence was given as in today it repeats.

To me this is a complete insult to the people of Western Province. When can a government that will equally respect and give prominence to the people of Western Province for we stand to be proud that we’ve equally shouldered this country all through while sacrificing ourselves and the damage done which is unbearable with our environment and livelihood. Are we being overlooked because of our softness or humbleness.

  • On record, the Covid funding that this government borrowed to assist fight the Pandemic, my electorate received only K900,000 as of todate. The announcement of K2.5M to each Districts is totally not true for us. The expenditure on covid programs so far in my electorate are funds from internal revenue and DSIP/PSIP. The Covid 19 funds have made many people become millionaires overnight in this country. As of todate the government fails not to acquit the borrowed C19 funds. Covid 19 Pandemic Act 2020 which in my view was the conduit crafted to make people become millionaires overnight.
  • Few of the Western Province PIP projects are mere only money plan items and as of todate no single toea for those PIP project have materialized. They tell us warrants are released but actual cash transfers are never done.
  • All the OTML tax credit scheme funds are focused on other District and Province projects when it should be rightly considered for Western Province programs. Some non Western Province districts and Provinces are taking advantage of such programs using our resources and heaven shake why would we be continued to be undermined and used as a ginni pigs. For instance, the current Tabubil Teleformin road project is funded under OTML tax credit scheme and the contractor doing the road is owned by Prime Minister James Marape. When did a Western Province contractor get a contract in Hela or elsewhere in PNG. Not only that, the recent NEC decision that Telefomin is included in the OTML arrangement to be given K20M every year. Ontop of that other Province’s programs are funded from our funds.
  • P’nyang with other Oil & Gas projects in Western Province were nearly to be progressed without due process and reaching maximum gain for our people. Many times we protested against the government until recently few concerns are heard but still looking gloomy as no concrete agreement has been reached.
  • Many outstanding issues in Western Province needed the National government’s intervention such as ongoing thieving of Western Province people’s trust funds both CMCA and Non CMCA funds. Much stealing has been going on and on. I try to raise and fight for these monies and yet the government is seen to have been compromising with these thieves and continue to suppress and undermine. Recently I became the victim of this fight when I got arrested for exposing the stealing which I was asking for my people’s rightful money meant for development kept under one of the trust accounts. I laid complaints to relevant authorities and many times asked help from the PM to give directions yet there seems no care by this government to shield for protections and security of the funds.
  • This government arranged and approved a contract to a Hongkong based investor company to do sand dredging at the mouth of our Fly river and export the sand to Hongkong. The deal was done without the knowledge of us Provincial leaders. It was highly suspicious for this dredging project and todate the government has not come clear about this arrangement. It was like pushing a hard banana into a baby’s mouth. It is revealed that the investor is the Hongkong Duck farmer billionaire who flew into our country during the C19 lockdown period bringing few boxes of PPE.
  • The recent cocaine spill that happened in our country is never seriously investigated. I believe it’s highly compromised under the watch of this government.
  • Lastly is corruption. I was looking upon this government to do some very radical decisions such as taking head on fighting criminal investigations.Yet as of todate, we see nothing happening. We wanted to fight corruption head on as few of us have been advocating but it seems they have compromised on many outstanding issues at hand. The whole house recently passed the ICAC bill unopposed which is something that we all agreed to do but the question is we didn’t even make one fight of corruption as that would demonstrate that our ICAC bill would be implemented effectively soon. We were supposed to put two feets down giving all the teeth to our existing institutions such as Police, OC, Fraud squad, CID and others. These institutions are highly politicized and big time compromised.

I sit in the middle bench and report to no one. Both sides are equally to be blamed as the current opposition team has many legacy issues also. So while sitting in the middle bench and watched the last 18 months, seriously there is not much difference. The current government continues to do the same thing. The rigging in the pretext of doing good is worse. My job right now is to assist stop the rigging from continuing and avoid the hole being dug deeper and deeper. I am equally responsible for the 8million people of this country and so I wouldn’t be a sitting duck pretending everything is okay.

For me I am one person who would want to see a government that must govern our country with an iron feast. A government that is very tough, no marking around, rule with might and authority. In doing so, it will bring confidence to our people, our stakeholders, business, and give investor’s confidence in our country.

The current government’s weakness is that it has compromised into its approach against all corruptions that eats into the born marrow of our nation.

  • An insanity by this government doing the same old things repeatedly expecting a different outcome.
  • This government instead of playing blame game it should have prove itself giving hope to the nation how to recover from the damage and salvage us out of the deep hole. It was not providing solutions but rather was going on borrowing and spending speed while passing the buck onto previous regime.

In order for this country PNG to move forward we require are government that will seriously do the following six things;

  1. Meritocracy – getting the right people to do the right job. Not forever practising nepotism, putting haus man, wantok, tribesmen and so on. This country doesn’t belong to one tribe or ethnic group, region or so on. A system that provides citizen with equal opportunities to progress, and for a person’s contributions to be recognized and appreciated on the basis of merit.
  2. Pragmatism – getting the job done with strong focus and commitment on a set course. Too much doing things on adhoc basis not thinking country without focusing to achieving vision 2050 as our country’s road map. We got exactly 30 more years to go (2020 -2050). Sometimes we must think out of the box instead of repeating doing the same thing over and over.
  3. Honesty – when governing, rule with might and authority that is really seen and felted across the country with having cross cutting measures serving with honesty. No fear or favor but purely for the love of the entire country. Remain clean, incorruptible, above board and transparent, and lead with integrity.
  4. Multiracial – Papua New Guinea that belongs equally to all citizens, where every individual, regardless of race, language, and religion is assured of justice and fairness.
  5. Decisive – The government that has the ability to make swift and bold decisions even in the absence of complete information. Not waiting to get information until when the opportunities are gone and we regret.
  6. Reliable – Fulfilling on promises. Say it and do it same time.

My voters of North Fly Electorate, it is because of all these reasonings, I moved to the Opposition since Friday 13th November, 2020 and so will be in the Opposition until I go into election. Sitting in the Opposition bench does no harm to me because I entered first day into parliament being in the Opposition and set there for the last two and half year from 2017 -2019.

Yumi mas wokim wok stret!
MPNF


Dibi Dihi

Source: FACEBOOK

Sam Basil Crossed to Opposition: Marape Says I Have Not Decomissioned

Basil’s reasons and Marape’s response Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil who had communicated with Prime Minister James Marape on Friday said he moved because his party members had crossed the floor to the opposition bench.Marape said:

“At the moment I have not decommissioned the Hon. Sam Basil. I do have respect for him anyway. He is a good man, he is a great man, he was caught off guard or by surprise. He told me on Friday that his members moved and he joined his members. I give him all the respect but when ever I feel that we move on in life then I will decide. I will have to have a clear divide when the dust settles and will decide but not now as I have not decommissioned any ministers as well”.

The Sunday Bulettin
PNG Deputy PM, Sam Basil

Why Indonesia’s human rights advocacy at the United Nations is often inconsistent and half-hearted

Moch Faisal Karim, Assistant Professor, Binus University

Over the past 20 years, Indonesia has developed its role as a country that fights for human rights and democracy at the regional level.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia – to some extent – advocates on issues of human rights protection within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia played a leading role in encouraging the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009.

Recently, Indonesia was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It will represent the Asia-Pacific region on the council from 2020-2022.

Unlike the part it has played in ASEAN, Indonesia’s efforts in upholding human rights at the UN council are weak, inconsistent and half-hearted.

Get high quality analyses on Indonesia and Southeast Asia from the experts

My recently published research shows Indonesia has frequently obstructed human rights enforcement in order to protect its reputation on the global stage.

I observe this through two cases: Indonesia’s rejection of proposals to reinforce the power of the UN Human Rights Council, and its attempts to block the council’s requests to visit and assess the situation in Papua.

Against strengthening the UNHRC

Indonesia has often voiced its disagreements with proposals to strengthen the role of the UN Human Rights Council.

In 2006, for instance, the council hoped to bolster the authority of its advisory committee. This is a body of 18 experts and academics tasked with conducting independent research and providing policy recommendations concerning worldwide human rights violations to the council.

It was proposed that the committee be given greater autonomy to conduct studies on human rights violations and issue resolutions – formal UN policies related to a certain issue. These resolutions are binding on its member states.

However, Indonesia and other developing countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan and China, rejected the proposal for fear that a more powerful advisory committee would take action on alleged human rights violations in their countries.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea presents its findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. (Wikimedia Commons)CC BY

Indonesia argues that the assessment of human rights in a certain country must be discussed together by all member states within the main body of the UN Human Rights Council.

However, a more probable reason for its rejection was Indonesia’s bad experience with a previous independent sub-commission in the council.

When it was still called the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the commission criticised Indonesia’s invasion and occupation of East Timor.

In 1993, the sub-commission issued a report that strongly condemned Indonesia’s actions in the region. The report ranged from demanding entry of the International Red Cross to pressuring Indonesia to respect the Geneva Conventions. It advised the UN Human Rights Council to seriously discuss the East Timor case in its next session.

Preventing human rights monitoring in Papua

Indonesia’s reluctance to strengthen international human rights protection can also be seen in its demands to limit the authority of the council’s “Special Procedure”. This is a mechanism that allows the creation of special delegations that can directly visit, examine and monitor human rights situations in a certain country.

To date, this is one of the most effective mechanisms the UN Human Rights Council possesses due to its ability to observe violations up close.

Indonesia, however, has always hid behind the argument of “state sovereignty” in rejecting these delegations.

During discussions in the council, Indonesia along with a number of African countries called for tighter regulations on creating and sending these delegations, including what they can do when visiting a country or communicating with the media.

So far, Indonesia has received only 12 delegations out of a total of 35 requests.

Several requests that have not yet been accepted aim to observe issues that the Indonesian government considers too sensitive – such as evaluating minority rights, the right to freedom of expression, or the right to be free from torture.

Indonesia seems worried that this Special Procedure could jeopardise the country’s “sovereignty”, especially when it involves allegations of human rights violations in Papua.

Unresolved human rights issues in Papua often cause conflicts of interest for Indonesia at the international level. Bagus Indahono/EPA

In addition, Indonesia is not among the 126 countries promising a “standing invitation”, which means pledging to accept all Special Procedure delegations in the future.

Other countries refusing to promise a standing invitation include those known for their human rights violations such as China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

What next for Indonesia’s human rights advocacy?

Indonesia’s failure to support proposals to strengthen the UN Human Rights Council indicates that its pro-human-rights attitude is often only symbolic.

Even in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s involvement in setting up the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) cannot be considered a complete success.

AICHR can only promote human rights but not protect them effectively due to ASEAN’s non-interference principle. The principle prevents member states from intervening in the domestic affairs of other members, including human rights matters.

At the international level, Indonesia has even attempted to limit human rights protection through its rejections of various Human Rights Council proposals.


But, as a democratic country, Indonesia has an obligation to fight for human rights values at every available opportunity.

If not, the country will forever be considered inconsistent and half-hearted as a result of ratifying human rights instruments at the national level and promoting human rights causes in ASEAN, but weakening their protection in the UN Human Rights Council.

Therefore, the Indonesian government must resolve its domestic issues – especially the human rights situtation in Papua – as soon as possible.

This way Indonesia’s foreign policy can be consistent with its identity as “the largest democracy in the Muslim world”, as it always boasts to the international community.


Ayesha Muna translated this article from Indonesian.

Neglected Genocide-Human rights Abuses against Papuans

The Human Lens

Most of you know that The Human Lens is part of the Free West Papua campaign and from time to time, we bring forward issues related to the on-going conflict. As decades of conflict have passed in West Papua, Indonesia where its civilians, soldiers and resistance group members are paying the costs of their right to self-determination against what they deem as Indonesian colonization.

The ongoing human rights abuses against the Papuans demand that both Indonesia and Papuan people find intelligent measures  towards ending this cycle of violence and find solutions to benefit both indigenous Papuans and Indonesia. The Neglected Genocide’ is a report detailing a series of human rights abuses that took place in the Central Highlands of Papua, during the military operations in 1977-1978. In this publication, the AHRC reports that at least 4,146 Papuans, including children, women, and the elderly were killed.

The research found that the methods of killing…

View original post 749 more words

Rape of Indigenous Women in West Papua

Thank you! We are with you! and we know we will win

The Human Lens

The silence on the genocide is our backyard is shameful and startling, for as we speak another exercise is being carried out by the Indonesian security forces that are intentionally raping and killing women and children civilians at some massacre point inside resource-rich province of Papua. During  1950s, West Papua was under Dutch Colonial rule, but by 1961 were moving towards independence with their own flag, the ‘Morning Star’, and Papuan government officials. In the early sixties, however, “Conflict erupted over West Papua” between The Netherlands and Indonesia, and a United Nations agreement gave control of the colony to Indonesia for six years. This was to be followed by a referendum. These six years of Indonesian control saw well-documented cases of violence and abuse by the military. Then in 1969, Indonesia conducted a referendum called the Act of Free Choice. Only 1025 Papuans, representing a population of one-million were hand-picked to vote…

View original post 803 more words

PM Marape welcomes election of new US President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.

APPROVED FOR RELEASE

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH, 2020

James Marape, PNG Prime Minister

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape today congratulated United States’ President-Elect Joe Biden, who is set to be the 46th President of the United States, defeating President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Marape also congratulated President-Elect Biden’s running mate, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman and first Black and Asian-American person to serve as Vice-President.

He thanked President Trump for his support and acknowledgement of Papua New Guinea during his term, especially sending his Vice-President Mike Pence to APEC 2018 in Port Moresby, and signing a US$2.3 billion with Australia, New Zealand and Japan to improve access to electricity and the Internet in PNG.

“I join with World leaders in congratulating US President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris on their election,” Prime Minister Marape said.

“The US Elections was an event that captivated the world World, including PNG, with our people glue to their TV screens and Internet to get latest updates.”
Prime Minister Marape said US-PNG relations were forged in PNG during World War II and continued to this day.

” Formal diplomatic relations between the US and PNG were established on September 16th, 1975, when PNG gained Independence, ” Prime Minister Marape said.
“I look forward to PNG strengthening relations with the USA under President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris.”
###

Gen. A. Tabi: Sebenarnya WPRA Tidak Termasuk Mendirikan ULMWP, Justru TPN PB OPM Yang Mendirikannya

West Papua Army

  • Lalu apa yang terjadi selanjutnya pada tahun ini?
  • Mengapa TPN PB OPM pimpinan Sebby Sambom dan Jeffry Pagawak justru menolak ULMWP dan meneror pada petinggi ULMWP?

General WPRA Amunggut Tabi menyatakan pembentukan Undang-Undang Dasar Sementara (UUDS) untuk Negara Republik West Papua (NRWP), yang sementara ini digiring oleh United Liberation Movement for West papua (ULMWP) ialah sesuatu yang menarik dan harus disambut baik oleh semua pihak yang bercita-cita mendirikan NRWP yang merdeka dan berdaulat penuh.

Gen. Tabi mengatakan sebenarnya dari awal WPRA atau TRWP tidak termasuk dalam pembentukan ULMWP. Yang membentuk ULMWP itu ialah sayap politik dari komando TPN PB OPM (Seby Sambom dan Jeffry Pagawak), DM TPN/OPM (Jonah Wenda dan WPNCL) dan TNPB dari NRFPB. Free West Papua Campaign di bawah komando WPRA oleh Hon. Benny Wenda tidak terlibat dalam proses Saralana Declaration.

Gen. Tabi meneruskan,

“Kami di luar proses itu. Kami tidak terlibat. Alasannya karena kami tidak diundang, dan…

View original post 459 more words

Intolerance, Papua Conflict Will Haunt Indonesia for Next 10 Years: LIPI

Translator: Dewi Elvia Muthiariny

Editor: Markus Wisnu Murti

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Cahyo Pamungkas opined that Indonesia would face two major problems in the next 10 years, viz. religious intolerance and separatism conflict in Papua.

“These political conflicts will haunt Indonesia for the next 10 years,” said Cahyo in a discussion on Conflict Resolution at the National and Regional Levels on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Cahyo said that intolerance, radicalism, and identity politics had threatened the principle of diversity and the spirit of nationalism.

Persecution and expatriation of the Rohingya, Cahyo added, reminded that Indonesia did similar action towards minority groups, such as the Shia and Ahmadiyah. “This is an example that the country fails to protect minorities,” he said.

Conflict in Papua is the longest in Indonesia, which is also one of the humanitarian crises that are rarely addressed. Cahyo said the cycle of political violence in Papua had been going on since 1965 and lingered after the reformation. He mentioned cases of human rights violations in Wasior, Wamena, and Paniai.

“This violence in Papua is why they want to separate from Indonesia. I think this strengthens Papuan nationalism,” he said.

Cahyo said that the government had used illiberal and liberal peace to overcome the Papua conflict by creating special autonomy up to deploying military (TNI) and police personnel. However, these measures failed to create peace.

West Papuans will not ‘bow down’ to Indonesia over independence wish

By RNZ Pacific, Via https://asiapacificreport.nz/

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua says it is adopting a provisional constitution for a democratic state.

The organisation is seeking a referendum in West Papua on independence from Indonesia.

The movement’s Legislative Council had been holding its third annual session in Jayapura.

It decided that the movement’s bylaws should be upgraded to provisional constitutional status as part of the journey to achieving independence.

The Provisional Constitution would establish a government guided by rules and norms of democracy, human rights and self-determination.

The movement said every element of the Provisional Constitution was democratic, and designed to protect West Papuan culture and way of life.

It also said as well as the rights of indigenous Papuans, customary land ownership and gender equality, the constitution defended the rights of Indonesian migrants in West Papua.

Established environment protections
It also said it established protections in law for the environment, all religions and every living being.

“We have learnt from the world the need to protect and build education, healthcare and renewable energy,” a statement from the ULMWP executive said.

To date, Indonesia’s government has ruled out a referendum on West Papuan independence.

It had also condemned the leadership of the ULMWP’s chairman Benny Wenda, saying Papuans already freely elect their own leaders within the Indonesian republic.

However Wenda’s recent call for Indonesian military forces to pull back from Papua was echoed by Papuan churches which wrote to President Joko Widodo, concerned about security forces’ crackdowns on student protests.

Meanwhile, the movement’s congress adopted a resolution that “fully accepts and supports the political positions taken by the people of West Papua in their rejection of the Law No. 21, 2001 on Special Autonomy for Papua”.

“We are not going to bow down to Jakarta’s renewal of so-called Special Autonomy. We are reclaiming our sovereignty from Indonesia,” Wenda said in a statement.

“We are working towards establishing a government in West Papua, a government that can lead us to our goal of a referendum and beyond.”

ULMWP assembly
The ULMWP assembly at Port Numbay, Papua. Image: ULMWP