Minggu, 12 September 2010

Australia West Papua Association Newsletter April

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No. 90 April 2008
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

AWPA welcomes articles for the newsletter on any issue in relation to West Papua. The reports in the newsletter are from the various email conferences on West Papua. AWPA appreciates any donations of support to help in its campaign work. Past newsletters can be found at www.zulenet.com/awpa/. West Papua National Coalition for Liberation meeting Representatives from a number of West Papuan political organisations and civil society groups met in Port Vila, Vanuatu at the beginning of April 2008 for a major meeting of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.

While in Vanuatu the delegates met with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu Ham Lini and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. George A. Wells. The Foreign Minister assured the delegates that he planned to raise the issue of the West Papuan struggle for self-determination at the Melanesian Spearhead Groups (MSG) leaders’ summit in May 200S.

The Foreign Minister also said his wish was to see West Papua ultimately given Observer Status at the MSG and at the Pacific Islands Forum. The West Papuan delegates also visited the Vanuatu Parliament where President Kalkot Mataskelekele said the struggle for West Papuan freedom is always in the hearts of the people of Vanuatu.

The spokesman for the Vanuatu-based West Papuan People’s Representative Office, John Ondawame said the meeting was to organise a unified leaderships and start a fresh diplomatic struggle for self-determination for the West Papuan people.

Vanuatu is the only country in the world where everybody knows about West Papua and supports the right of the people of West Papua to self-determination. A courageous people, a courageous country.

Activists rounded up across Indonesia’s Papua province over March demonstrations
RNZI 14 April, 2008 UTC

An activist for the Free West Papua Movement says Indonesian police continue to round up Papuans linked to a series of demonstrations against Special Autonomy status last month.

Nick Chesterfield says at least 70 Papuans have been detained for their involvement in the demonstrations in several main towns of Papua and West Papua provinces. In Manokwari, eleven activists are being held on charges of rebellion and subversion, for raising the outlawed Morning Star Flag during their peaceful rally. Mr Chesterfield is concerned for the safety of the activists who he calls political prisoners. He says contrary to Indonesian law, the detainees are being treated not as political prisoners but as common criminals, in appalling conditions.

“And the people being rounded up are obviously the people who’ve been involved in these demonstrations or, in the police view, may be involved. Quite regularly families and extended families of activists have been targetted as well. But we have to remember that this is ongoing, this is always the condition in West Papua. The only difference now is that there’s international attention on what’s happening”, said Nick Chesterfield.

Time to right the great Melanesian wrong
Solomon Star Viewpoint Editorial April 14, 2008

FINALLY, hope for the forgotten Melanesians. And a chance for Prime Minister Derek Sikua and this country to try to help right one of the great wrongs of Melanesia.

It comes with Vanuatu’s move to push the cause of the Indonesian-ruled West Papuans at next month’s Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting. This is being held in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila. Vanuatu Foreign Minister George Wells promised support after the West Papua National Coalition of Liberation met in Port Vila the other day. Vanuatu wants the West Papuans to be given observer status within the Melanesian Spearhead Group. It would link them with Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Kanaks of New Caledonia.

Dr Sikua should support this Vanuatu move despite all the behind-the-scenes pressures he will now come under not to. For the Indonesians have no more right to occupy West Papua than they did East Timor. Indonesia’s mistreatment of the Papuans and exploitation of West Papua’s rich resources are well documented.

Just the other day, for instance, TV viewers in Honiara saw a graphic Australia Network documentary telling of the spreading of HIV/AIDS amongst the Papuan population. There were suggestions this is part of a strategy to weaken the Papuans and strengthen the position of Asian Indonesians being moved into Papua. So let’s never forget the following despite all the huff and puff from Jakarta. Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua has no credibility. It was only allowed to happen because it suited American Government interests during the Cold War.

More recently Australian and Papua New Guinean governments have largely kept West Papua off the Pacific Islands Forum agenda. They have thwarted efforts to get the Forum to address the issue of West Papuan self determination.

Canberra does this because it worries about maintaining Australia’s own relationships with its massive and sensitive neighbour to its north. To appease Jakarta, Canberra pragmatically turns a blind eye to the rights of the West Papuans. This has been especially important to Canberra since the fallout with Jakarta over East Timor. In Port Moresby, there is personal sympathy for their fellow Melanesians across the border in the west. But Papua New Guinea governments also fear provoking any confrontation with the Indonesians. They are especially wary of the powerful Indonesian military who hold such sway in West Papua and benefit so much from the occupation there. There are also some in Papua New Guinea who see benefits, perhaps personal, in snuggling up to the Indonesians. Vanuatu alone has long supported the West Papuan cause. It has been prepared to stand up to all the pressure over this. Not just from the Indonesians but also from Canberra and Port Moresby.

The West Papua National Coalition of Liberation is said to bring together 28 pro-independence groups. Its vice chairman, Dr John Ondawame, told Radio Australia after they met in Port Vila that there are now signs of support from Fiji and Solomon Islands too. Let’s hope this finally translates into a true Melanesian effort to right one of the great wrongs of this part of the world. And Solomon Islands joins Vanuatu in leading this effort. Granting the West Papuans observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group is an important first step.

RI, Aussie exploring cooperation in building joint patrol boats
ANTARA News 03/28/08 00:58

Brisbane (ANTARA News) - Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Indonesia and Australia were exploring a cooperation in building joint patrol boats, and if the funding is adequate, the construction work could be carried out at PT PAL Indonesia.

"We are currently exploring cooperation in building joint patrol boats. We are still discussing the technical, joint funding and marketing aspect of the project", he told ANTARA News on the results of the meeting with Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibon in Canberra, on Thursday. Minister Juwono said he and his Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon discussed mutually beneficial cooperation in the defense industry, including the construction of joint patrol boats.

PT. PAL Indonesia will be the place for the construction of joint patrol boats if the funding is adequate. "So far no target has been set, because everything is still in stage of technical certification exploration," he said. The joint patrol boats are not only for Indonesia and Australia, but for other neighboring countries in the West Pacific region, he said. In this context, Juwono said to staff personnel of his office had visited the facilities of the Australian defense industry.

Touching on cooperation between two countries' armed forces in handling disasters and in providing humanitarian aid, Juwono said he and Joel agreed to further develop the existing cooperation established in the wake of the tsunamis and earthquakes in Aceh and Nias in 2004 and 2005.

What has come up as the main point of Indonesia include mobility of the boats on the surface, cargo airplanes, medical supplies, rubber boats, field hospitals and other emergency needs, he said. Australia may grant Hercules C-130 cargo aircraft to Indonesia if that country had already received type H Hercules aircraft, but type J Hercules are also needed now, Juwono said.(*)

West Papua National Coalition for Liberation settles new leadership
RNZI April 08, 2008

A summit of Papuan leaders and NGOs underway in Vanuatu has settled on a new unified leadership for their self-determination efforts.

Representatives from 28 Papuan political groups and NGOs have been in Port Vila under the umbrella of the recently-established West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.

The Liberation has voted Rex Rumakiek of the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, its Secretary-General, and hopes its new international drive for discussion on Papua will be helped by a unified structure. The Vanuatu-based West Papuan People’s Representative spokesman Dr John Ondawame admits that differing approaches of the various groups have not helped the Papuan cause in the past. "We’re trying to sort out the differences between ourselves and we would like to send our case to the world. That’s why we want a new leadership with a clear political programme and leadership". Dr John Ondawame says the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders summit in Vila represents the best chance yet to get observer status for West Papuans at the MSG.

RI, Australia exploring defense industry cooperation
ANTARA 03/27/08

Brisbane (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono and his Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon in Canberra on Thursday discussed opportunities for mutually beneficial defense industry cooperation. The two ministers also discussed ways of supporting capacity building through cooperation in science and technology development projects, according to the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra on Thursday. In their meeting which was held at the Explorer Room of the Parliament building in Canberra, the two defense ministers also agreed to encourage their armed forces` commanders to continue building common understanding on defense relations to further advance relations already existing so far.

Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said in a press statement following the meeting that priority in building common understanding on defense relations in the future would be given to "defense engagement". The defense engagement included military exercise, post-graduate education, exchanges of visits and studies, surveillance and maritime exercise and patrols. He said that the common understanding would be built based on the Lombok Treaty on security cooperation to reflect the two countries` increasingly stronger relations. Cooperations already existed and new initiatives would be carried out and coordinated through Indonesia-Australia defense strategic dialogs, he added. The Australian minister said that he and Juwono would also continue to encourage various initiatives on peacekeeping forces through both countries` peacekeeping forces training centers.(*)

West Papua: Indonesia's continuing shame

By Damien Kingsbury, Associate Head (Research) of the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University and author of "The Politics of Indonesia".

Entering its tenth year since the fall of the authoritarian President Suharto, Indonesia has progressed towards consolidating its democratic system, respecting rule of law and resolving ethnic grievances. Notably, after a couple of false starts, the direct election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono helped consolidate Indonesia's reform process.

Yet despite this progress, Indonesia retains a blot on its democratic and human rights record; that of West Papua. There was some hope after 2001 that Indonesia's process of political and economic decentralization would allow West Papua a degree of genuine autonomy. On paper, the "special autonomy" package offered to West Papua, and Indonesia's other formerly troubled province of Aceh, looked to address many outstanding issues. Yet as has since been noted by many observers, West Papua's "special autonomy" status has been methodically undermined until it has become next to meaningless.

In particular, dividing the province into three provinces, later ratified by Indonesia's constitutional court as two, destroyed much of the substance of its autonomy package. A proposal to create even further provinces even further diminishes the original "special autonomy" package. Meanwhile, since the redeployment of troops following Aceh's successfully negotiated peace settlement, West Papua has seen a significant build-up of soldiers and paramilitary police. The human rights situation, while not at record bad levels, has consequently deteriorated. Underlying West Papua's problems with Jakarta has been the means by which the territory was incorporated into the state in 1968. In this, a little over one thousand hand-picked village leaders were compelled to ratify West Papua's forced incorporation into Indonesia in 1963. This process was sanctioned by the UN, but has since been discredited. West Papua was not only constructed by many Indonesian leaders as central to completing their nationalist project, but the wealth it generates has since underpinned Indonesia's economy.

As a largely self-funded institution, Indonesia's military, the TNI, also has a major economic stake in West Papua, and for both reasons is profoundly opposed to its separation. Yet for a wealthy province, most West Papuans are poor, have abysmally low levels of education, health care and other development indicators. And, as Melanesians, West Papuans are looked upon by Malay Indonesians with attitudes ranging from pity to contempt. Many Indonesians, in particular in the military, regard West Papuans as being less than fully human, which has exacerbated human rights abuses.

Following the Aceh peace agreement which has seen that province prosper in peace over the past two years, many West Papuan political leaders hoped for a similar resolution. In order to achieve this, last year the province's disparate political groups, including the Free Papua Organisation (OPM), came together under an umbrella organization, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL).

The word "liberation" in the WPNCL's title refers to freeing West Papuans from oppression, not necessarily separating from Indonesia. However, to date, President Yudhoyono has refused to talk with the WPNCL, at least under international mediation, perhaps fearing political backlash from the often fractious and self-serving politics of Jakarta. Yet following from Aceh's relative success, such a process might offer a means of resolving Indonesia's outstanding separatist issue while significantly improving the lives of a people who have been treated as second class citizens. From an international perspective, such a resolution would remove a significant impediment from relations with Indonesia, particularly with Australia and the United States.

The West Papua issue retains the potential to destabilize bilateral relations, especially in Australia was faced with accepting another boat-load of West Papuan asylum seekers. Last year's Lombok Treaty does not trump Australia's international and humanitarian obligations to legitimate refugees, and the West Papuan issue continues to come up with members of the US Congress. It is in Indonesia's interests, and those of its friends, to see the West Papua problem disappear. This cannot happen by sweeping it under the carpet, as with East Timor until the fateful referendum of 1999.

Rather, the problem of West Papua will only disappear when the government of Indonesia decides to seriously address the myriad issues that have bedeviled the territory. The international community has a role in monitoring events in West Papua, at least as best it can given the continuing restrictions on travel there. And the international community might, as with Aceh, have a role in mediating and overseeing the implementation of any future agreement. In this, Indonesia can build on its success in Aceh, which brought the government international accolades including Nobel Peace Prize nominations. The question really is, though, whether Indonesia is still serious about reform, or whether the gains of democratization will again be allowed to slip between it political fingers.

West Papuans Charged With Rebellion Subject To Ill-treatment In Prison
Manukoreri, West Papua, Friday April 11 2008 - As Indonesian security forces intensify a West Papua-wide crackdown and round up of up to 100 peaceful demonstrators, serious concerns are held for the safety of all West Papuan peace activists and flag raisers currently being held in inhuman conditions by the Indonesian police, particularly those in POLRES Manokwari, held on charges of rebellion and subversion.

Source: www.asia-pacific-action.org

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