The Reflection of Papua

Indonesia, to be precise Papua, contains immense beauty of its nature, the local’s traditions that have been passed through generations and the local wisdoms that now play significant roles on our life through global interaction that are barely known among us.

Poriaman Sitanggang, a photographer that have been photographing Indonesia for almost 32 years and went to many remote areas of Indonesia and visiting its corners just held an exhibition in Oslo, Norway, on 25-27 September 2018. He exhibited photos taken from 1994 to 2018.

The exhibition is entitled “Voyage to the Rising Sun: Papua, Indonesia” and made possible by The Embassy Of The Republic Of Indonesia Oslo, Norway and PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ).

There are 35 photos containing the nature of Papua, the culture and life of indigenous peoples in Papua, especially the Dani and Asmat, which were taken by Poriaman during 1994-2018.

“It’s all over Papua from Merauke at the very east of Papua, then Asmat at the south, going up to Wamena, then down to Sorong at the western Papua. I am inspired by the people I met who accepted me warmly. They shared their rich tribal culture and indigenous wisdom.  I felt very welcomed. It was my privilege and honour to take their pictures.” He said

An artistic way to welcome guest. The wonderful people of Awaire, South Sorong, Papua Indonesia.

To put it in the geographical context, Papua is one of the biggest province in Indonesia situated in the western part on New Guinea Islands. It is 74,000 km2 bigger than Norway (Papua Indonesia 459,411 km2 vs Norway 385,203 km2). Papua is rich of gas, oil, and gold resources in Indonesia. It also has one of the largest rain forest.

Through the pictures of the “Voyage to the Rising Sun: Papua, Indonesia,”  Poriaman Sitanggang brought back our picturesque memories of living close to the nature and living by the local wisdoms.

Warrior from the Sagu forest of South Sorong, Papua Indonesia.

The Papuans, as captured on Poriaman’s camera,  carves our awareness about how shall we protect our forest and our diversity for our future generations.


Cash Incentive to Improve Condition of Malnourished Children

By Gisela Swaragita / THE JAKARTA POST

Agats, Papua

To combat poverty and improve children’s nutrition intake, the Papua administration will give cash incentives to families with children under 4 years of age in the regencies of Asmat, Lanny Jaya and Paniai. The grant is given under a pilot program named Bangga Papua (Papua’s pride) and financed through the special autonomy fund.

According to Heracles Lang, who designed the cash aid program, every toddler living in one of the three regencies and born after january 2015 to a parent of the Melanesian race is eligible for the grant.

“We chose the three regencies, because they are the ones with the most severe poverty,” Heracles told The Jakarta Post after a monitoring visit in Agats, the capital district of Asmat, on sept. 23.

Heracles is the special autonomy improvement head of KOMPAK, an Indonesian-Australian government program for human development.

The three regencies have become models of geographical challenges that often hamper social security programs in the province. Asmat is located by the shore of the Arafura Sea, while Lannya Jaya and Paniai are in the mountains.

According to Asmat Regent Decree No.149/2018 on Bangga Papua, 50 percent of the children of Melanesia live below the poverty line. In early 2018, Asmat regency was under international scrutiny after almost 80 children died of malnutrition.

Heracles said the grant was designed especially to address the nutrition problem, so that parents could buy nutritious and diverse food to improve their chidren’s diet.

He said every eligible child would receive Rp 200,000 (US$13.43) every month through bank transfer. The first transfer, to be conducted in early December, will be for an accumulated nine-month worth of grants. Afterwards, funds will be received every month until the child turns 4 years old.

Heracles said the Bangga Papua team had worked since November 2017 to register all of the eligible children in the three regencies. The names were then reported to Bank Papua, which created accounts for each children.

To ease the money withdrawal from the bank, on the transfer day, Bank Papua personnel will be deployed to each districts in the regency with military escort to deliver the money.

The program prioritizes mothers over fathers to withdraw the money from the bank.

Heracles said all of the eligible children in Asmat had been registered, while the registry teams in teams in Lanny Jaya and Paniai were still working to complete the list.

Bangga Papua has received much criticism, with people saying such funding would only make the poor lazier and more dependent. Many have also expressed concern that the parents, especially the fathers, may forcefully take the cash from the mother and spent it on cigarettes, areca nuts, alcohol, prostitution or even drugs.

Vivi Yulaswati, the director of poverty eradication from the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), said according to studies cash incentives for social protection should amount to between 16 percent and 25 percent of income per capita to have the desired impact without creating dependency. “We have calculated that the amount of the grant is within the safe range,” she said.

She added that Bangga Papua also helped the government complete the civil registry, which was deemed extremely difficult for Papua.

“Around 79 districts here do not have (civil registry) data. This is a good trick, as through this program, Asmat has registered around 11,200 children. Thus, we can have the data of the people here by name and by address,” Vivi said.

Papua is one of the provinces receiving special autonomy funds. The funds have been granted since 2001 and are planned to continue until 2021, with the hope that Papua can catch up in terms of development with other provinces of Indonesia.

Source: The Jakarta Post

Community Gardens Nourish Asmat Children

By Gisela Swaragita / THE JAKARTA POST

Agats, Papua

Cream of the crop: A woman in Cumnew village in Akat district, Asmat, rinses dirt of water spinach she harvested from a community garden. Adopting the practice of growing vegetables has seen a more diverse range of food included in the diets of Asmat children, helping prevent malnutrition.

Under the supervision of local churches and the government, residents of Akat district in Asmat region, Papua, have planted vegetables in their  house yards and on cleared land. The crops have enriched their diet, which was mainly based on wild tuberous roots and game.

Chatolic priest Vesto Fransiskus Benediktus Labi Maing, the local supervisor of the program, said the people of Akat district had a long history of being hunter-gatherers, surviving on fish, wild boar, sago and taro for centuries.

The district, located on peatland around an hour boat ride from Agats, the capital district of Asmat regency, is home to an estimated 3,000 people living in 11 villages. Vesto said many of the resident’s livelihoods depend on natural resources and that they spend the majority of the year living nomadically in the jungle. The nomads only return to village to celebrate Christmas, Easter and Independence Day.

“The first time I came here as a frater (brother) in the late 1990s, the only vegetables they ate were cassava leaves and wild water spinach that they collected from the jungle,” he said during an interview in Agats after a monitoring visit on Sunday, Sept. 23.

During his early missionary days in Akat, he realized that among the hunter-gatherers there were several people who had cultivated their lands using simple agricultural techniques for family consumption.

“Because I was born into a farmer’s family in flores, I felt like it as my calling to help them develop their farming to increase production,” he said.

In 2016, Vesto helped the residents of Ayam village in Akat to clear some land and organize community gardens. Now the gardening programs have expanded to Cumnew, Waw, Bayiw Pinam and Jewes villages, which are all within Akat district.

In march, the program was picked up by an initiative called Landasan, a joint program for human development between the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) and the Australian Embassy.

George Corputty, a program manager of Landasan, said the organic gardening program started by Vesto had saved the cildren of Akat from the malnutrition disaster that killed almost 80 children in Asmat region in early 2018.

“The data from the local public health center (Puskesmas) showed that there were no malnourished children in Akat district. When we saw that they had vegetable garden centers, we though that it might have been what saved them,” George said. He also said that the peatlands in Akat became and advantage for gardening in the regency, as most settlements in Asmat were built on muddy shores or among mangroves.

George said Landasan has since then helped the village by supplying seeds, gardening tools and profesional training.

Vesto said the five villages now cultivated various green vegetables besides water spinach such as yard-long beans, red and green spinach, and Chinese cabbage. The district also become one of the main suppliers of green vegetables in Asmat. The vegetables are all cultivated using organic methods without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

“We can only use natural fertilizers so that it won’t pollute the water and the land. The lives of the people here depend on the natural eco system,” George said.

Vesto added that the gardeners used to obtain natural fertilizers from wild chicken nests in the jungle.

Vivi Yulaswati, the director of poverty eradication at Bappenas, said the initiative had been effective in ensuring the children in Asmat had more diverse food in their diets.

“Nutrition is a concern for the government, because the data shows that stunting has increased recently despite being successfully lowered in 2013,” she said. She went on to say that studies had proven that vegetables gardening centers were not an effective way to solve mass malnutrition.

Astrid Kartika, the human development unit manager at the Australian Embassy, said adopting gardening practices helped children stay in their villages and go to school, instead of being taken into the jungles by their parents to live as nomads.

“We do not want to change their culture as nomads, we do not have the rights to do that,” she said. “However when the kids are at school, it is easier to give them immunizations to prevent out breaks like the measles disaster that happened in early 2018.”

Source: The Jakarta Post

Ellen Aragay, First Papuan to Represent Indonesia in International Beauty Pageant

Ellen Rachel Aragay, a West Papuan English teacher, represents Indonesia in the Face of Beauty International 2018 in India, 7-17 September 2018. She was the first runner up of the 2014 Miss Indonesia and by participating in the beauty contest, she hopes to bring campaign to stop domestic abuse.

“We will campaign on how to stop violence against women both in the household and in relationships,” Ellen told Ata Hasegem, who interviewed her for BBC Indonesia.

The Face of Beauty International was known as Miss Teen Face of Beauty International and first held in 2012. This contest aims to share the visions and ideas of women throughout the world, according to her who was an alumni of International Miracle Institute in Florida. She also competed in the last ASEAN Basketball Cup in 2018.

Her experiences as a teacher also give her an important role to elevate education in Papua particularly through English education.

According to Ellen, her participation in the beauty contest confirms that Papuan or Melanesian are equal to other people.

“We are the same, have competitiveness, achievement, and creativity that are not inferior to other people in the world. Like intellectual intelligence and the ability to socialize,” she said.

Ellen said that her participation in this contest was also a kind of personal achievement. She told that she was once a victim of bullying when she was in junior high school because of her physical appearance. Because of that, she once didn’t want to go to school for about three months. But then she used it as a motivation for her success.

“I struggled, Then I was able to I graduated with good grades. So I proved,” she said while laughing.


Source: BBC Indonesia

West Papua Movement Started to Lose Support from Pacific Countries

Vanuatu’s Government planned to submit a draft resolution to the Pacific Islands Forum, calling for Indonesian-ruled Papua to be inscribed on the list at next year’s UN General Assembly.

The intention was conveyed at this month’s meeting of Pacific Forum foreign ministers in Apia.

Despite claims in Vanuatu, however, that other Pacific governments had indicated they would back the draft, no other countries committed support in Apia.

Vanuatu’s announcement of its intention to table the draft was met with demur by Papua New Guinea, Australia and Fiji, while other countries did not make a comment.

Mr Salwai said he would take the draft resolution to Nauru where Pacific Forum leaders hold their annual summit next month.

Vanuatu’s Government could be alone among regional administrations in its bid to have West Papua inscribed on the United Nations de-colonisation list.

Earlier on July, the Melanesian Spearhead Group Director General, Amena Yauvoli also said political discussions about West Papua don’t belong in the organisation.

Mr Yauvoli told the Fiji Times human rights issues relating to West Papua should be dealt with by international organisations.

Speaking during a working group meeting in Nadi on Thursday, he said the MSG’s common enemy is crime and politics should be set aside.

Earlier this week Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said the MSG was failing because of a lack of political engagement.


Source: Radio NZ

A Morning Leisure talks between Jokowi and Papuan Student in New Zealand

On the sidelines of the Indonesian President work visit to New Zealand, Jokowi took his time for a leisurely walk at Wellington Waterfront Pier. He wasn’t alone, he was accompanied by the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Wiranto, State Secretary Pratikno, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya. Not only that, Indonesian students in New Zealand, which dozens of them are Papuan, participate in the morning entourage with Jokowi.

In the middle of the walk, the students had time for a dialog with the President. Marvey Ayomi, “Coordinator of Children of Papua in New Zealand”, appreciated the efforts of the Jokowi government in boosting infrastructure development in Papua.

Although is not easy, he believes Jokowi government has seriousness in building Papua. “It is not easy, I myself as a Papuan knows that to take care of Papua and the people of Papua is not easy, therefore we appreciate it,” he said on Monday (19/3).

Marvey asked Jokowi to continue the development in Papua. There is one demand for infrastructure that he has requested to be encouraged in Papua; an international airport, thus “if we want to return to Papua we don’t need to transit in Bali or Jakarta, but directly to Papua,” he said.


Two Papuan Young Women Becomes the Two First Female Papuan Pilot for Indonesia

During his meeting with the Indonesians students in Wellington, New Zealand, it was mentioned that two Papuan young women are studying in a Pilot Academy in New Zealand. The two young woman will become the two first female pilots from Papua and will work for Garuda Indonesia airlines.

This information was revealed by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya. “Mr President, I would like to inform you that two graduated girls from the pilot academy, are in the final process to become Garuda’s pilots” said Tantowi. “So we will have the first two female pilots from Papua and and for Garuda Indonesia,” added Tantowi who was then applauded by the President Jokowi and the First Lady Iriana.

Chairman of the UN Decolonization Special Committee, Rafael Ramirez, Reveals the Lies of Benny Wenda

The separatist group Benny Wenda resumed spreading hoaxes and lies to the public through a message saying that Benny Wenda had submitted a petition calling for a referendum for Papua to the UN Decolonization Committee as published by the Guardian newspaper with the headline “Banned West Papua independence petition handed to UN”. On September 27, 2017, the Guardian newspaper in its

article mentions that Benny Wenda has submitted a petition calling for a referendum for Papua to the UN Decolonization Committee.

Responding to the report, the Chairman of the UN Decolonization Special Committee, Rafael Ramirez, has relayed a clarification on 28 September 2017 morning at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA. In his clarification, Rafael Ramirez stated that he and the Secretariat of the UN Decolonization Special Committee never received, formally or informally, a petition or anyone regarding Papua as reported in the Guardian newspaper.

According to Rafael Ramírez, it is only the activities or efforts of individuals and certain parties who seek to manipulate and create a propaganda. Last year, Benny Wenda has also done the same thing, lying to the public. He mentioned that he had submitted documents about Papua to the UN Secretary-General, but after being confirmed with the UN secretary-general’s office it never happened. He seeks only to shape opinions and stigma, both to the international community and to the Papuan community that Papua is under the rule of Indonesian colonialism and seeks to fight for Papuan independence through a referendum.Indonesia colonizing the Papuan people is an absurd logic. In fact, the Indonesian nation is a nation that strives to fight for independence and peace as the right of all nations.

Indonesia is determined to fight for the Palestinian’s right to independence and stop the occupation of Israel against the Palestinians. On the other hand, Indonesia is also the largest contributor in the UN Peacekeeping Force. The Government of Indonesia is also adamantly doing development in Papua and gives full freedom to the Papuan people to manage its territory through Special Autonomy. So what Benny Wenda does is nothing more than the efforts of a handful of people who want to impose their own interests but under the pretext of the interests of the people of Papua.

Membership Application of Separatist Group Reaches a Dead End

Port Moresby, 15 February 2018 – “At the 21st MSG Summit in Port Moresby, the application of a West Papua separatist group again reaches a dead end. For whatever reasons, it is clear that there is no place for separatist group.” Desra Percaya the Director General for Asia Pacific and African Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of the Indonesian delegation stated.

This is not the first time the group attempted to upgrade its status in the MSG. At the Group’s Special Summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 2016, the separatist group failed to change its status.

At this year’s Summit, the majority of the MSG Leaders questioned the appropriateness and relevancy of upgrading the status of this separatist group in the Melanesian grouping.

The Leaders’ Retreat discussion agreed on a revised membership guidelines but returned the ULMWP’s application back to the MSG Secretariat. The Leaders instructed the Secretariat to explore and draft the details of the criteria for the membership.

With that development, further discussion is needed on the substance of the membership criteria, and applying the proper mechanism of reviewing membership application which must be through the Secretariat, and must be recommended by senior officials to ministers before tabling any applications to leaders.

The Agreement Establishing the MSG, which was revised in 2015, stipulated that members must respect the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states.

The decision by the MSG is based on consensus. There are solid commitment and support by the majority of the members for Indonesia’s position. In addition, the majority of members are committed to honor and respect the principles and objectives of the MSG, in particular that of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

Based on those facts, the membership application of the separatist group will always reach a dead end and will not succeed.

“The result of the 2015 MSG Summit clearly stipulates that the separatist group as one of the observers, is only representing a small group of West Papuan individuals living abroad.” Added Desra Percaya.

“The statement of the separatist group claiming to represent the people of West Papua in the MSG is unfair for the 3.9 people of the Papua and West Papua provinces.”

Desra Percaya further said that “More than two million West Papuan voters have been exercising their democratic rights through internationally free and fair elections. The aspiration of West Papuans is channeled through the open democracy system in place in Indonesia.”

In its global survey in 2018, the highly respected Freedom House found that the elections in Indonesia, including in West Papua, are free and fair.

Desra Percaya added “As with other provinces in Indonesia, communities in Papua and West Papua provinces are politically free. The freedom of democracy, managing budget and development is internationally recognized.”

“At this 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Summit, Indonesia has expressed its commitment to be a strong partner for MSG member countries in realizing the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All vision, a 25-year plan for improving the welfare of communities in the sub-region of Melanesia.”

“Indonesia reaffirms its commitment to promote development, improving the welfare and security of the Melanesian sub-region under the leadership of Papua New Guinea at Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG),” Desra Percaya said.

The MSG leaders agreed with Desra that it is important for MSG to focus on the common objectives of achieving prosperity, sustainable development, good governance and security. It would be detrimental if the attention of MSG is distracted by issues that are not relevant to those purposes.

MSG is an organization, consisting of countries in the sub-region of Melanesia, namely Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS of New Caledonia.

Indonesia was granted the Associate Member Status at the 20th MSG Leaders’ Summit in Honiara, in 2015, during Solomon Islands’ chairmanship.

The 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit was concluded with the visit to the PNG’s Parliament and APEC Haus, on 15 February 2018, as part of the preparation for PNG’s chairmanship in APEC 2018.