Papua: Vanuatu Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Around 190 countries gathered in New York for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) from Sept. 17 to 30. Its themes included galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion. As sovereign nations, however, participating countries were free to touch upon any issue pertinent to their supreme national interests.

United States President Donald Trump, for example, used this event to promote his “America First” ideology, stating that “The Future doesn’t belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots” (Politico, Sept. 24).

It is in this context that prior to and during the UNGA session, the so-called leader of the United Liberations Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, and his cohorts had moved around to lobby countries, especially state parties to the Pacific Islands Forum and Melanesian Spearhead Group, trying to convince them to pressure Indonesia to organize a referendum in Papua.

And at the same time, banking on the already tense politics in Papua, mainly due to the heinous killing of around 20 construction workers in Nduga regency last December, Benny stands accused of provoking a series of brutal acts in the restive province, in which scores of innocent people perished in Jayapura and Wamena respectively, in an attempt to attract the General Assembly’s attention.

More than 30 innocent people were dastardly killed and around 10,000 have become displaced.

This tragedy has exposed the true colors of Benny, defeating his claim of being a peaceful freedom fighter, as he has tried desperately to portray during his recent interview with the BBC. The recent killings, looting and burning of civilian property and public infrastructure in Papua speak volumes of this man, who apparently will do anything imaginable to justify his end. It is rather shameful that Vanuatu has – all these years – failed to see this fact and was willingly manipulated by Benny to become ULMWP’S mouthpiece, by constantly raising the Papuan issue at international forums.

The fact that only Vanuatu out of 196 participating countries in the General Assembly session pressed for Papuan self-determination is clear evidence. Indeed, the question of Papua had long been put to rest when the UNGA issued Resolution No. 2504/1969.

The 1969 resolution affirmed the return of Papua from the colonial past to the realm of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, based on the principle of utipossidetis juris, an international maxim that states borders of the newly independent countries conform to its colonial ones.

While regretting the ignorance of Vanuatu on this well-established international principle, Indonesia should welcome the constructive engagements by Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, which briefly expressed their concerns over what happened recently in Papua, while appreciating the intention of Indonesia’s government to invite the UN High commissioner for human rights to visit the country.

It is to be expected that Indonesia will take commensurate measures to rein in Vanuatu from meddling in its domestic affairs, which may include breaking up diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Practically, Indonesia gains nothing from its diplomatic relationship with this relatively less than US$1 billion economy, as compared to Indonesia, which has a gross domestic product that surpasses $1 trillion, according to the World Bank. In terms of socio-economic benefits, Vanuatu surely needs Indonesia more than Indonesia needs Vanuatu. As the menacing global economy recession starts to manifest itself, instead of engaging in confrontation, all UN members are required to corporate closely to fend off this threat.

Accordingly, all countries have to identify all obstructing elements in their quest to multilaterally confront the approaching economic turbulence, amid UN failures to resolve recalcitrant conflicts around the world, among others, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Korea Peninsula, apart from the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.

As far as Vanuatu is concerned, to continue raising the Papuan issue internationally will lead it nowhere. It is just like barking up the wrong up the wrong tree, for no country will support Vanuatu, as has been made crystal clear all these years. Hence, getting rid of the Papuan issue from its international agenda is highly recommended to build a more productive cooperation with Indonesia.

As for the Indonesia’s maturing democracy, we hope it is able to resolve its multifaceted challenges, including the Papua issue, in the near future. Soon after his inauguration this month and with his renewed mandate, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will be very well equipped to pull Indonesia out of this trying moment. Let us give him enough space and ample time to carry out his constitutional duties, resolving all pressing matters, chiefly among those the issue of Papua, once and for all.

Source: The JakartaPost

Uncovering Lies of OPM Through 2019 National Election

Discussions about democracy means discussing about political morality. Morality that values humans as political subjects and views them as the most important element in political system. Morality that respects human dignity.

Therefore, the establishment process of any political institution from the smallest groups to largest institution known as establishment of a state or government. The process can be seen as the most substantial element in democracy. The process of democracy becomes the face which reflects democracy itself.

Hence, the establishment of a government through elections has always been considered as one of the most important processes in any political life. The quality of a national election has become a benchmark for democratic values it upholds. Presidential elections which are free, fair, and peaceful is a benchmark for a nation’s commitment to respect and protect human rights.

In this regard, Indonesia’s presidential elections on 17th of April, 2019 can be seen as a direct reflection of maturity of democracy in any state.  Indonesia has successfully conducted a national election with more than 190 million Indonesian voters, spread out in over 17.000 of islands and Indonesian expats living in more than 100 nations. The election was held in 810,329 voting posts, and done simultaneously in one day, and was conducted in a peaceful and free manner. This reality is recognized by international community as the largest and most complex national election in the world. The number of participations for the 2019 Indonesian Presidential elections which reached up more than 80% of voters also shows a rise around 12% compared to previous national election held in 2014.

The logical conclusion of the facts mentioned above, is that this national election can be used as valid evidence to counter all accusations done by a small number of individuals under the name of OPM (Free West Papua Movement). On the contrary, the reality that was mentioned has opened the mask, or the veil, in which OPM is only a small number of people who have been drowned in lies which they themselves have created. This national election has become a strong and undeniable evidence which shows that OPM are trapped in their own belief that was based on violence and shortsighted ideology which in turn victimized innocent Papuans. Indonesian Papua Province proves that the national election that was conducted in 1262 voting posts throughout the province was successful. The voting delay that happened in Papua was caused by logistics difficulties faced due to geographical conditions. However, it is seen that logistics difficulties do not lower the enthusiasm of Papuans to participate in the democratic process in Indonesia.

The 2019 national election is the strongest objection that is shown by the people in Papua towards all accusations and lies created by OPM.  It is foolish and extreme absurdity to deny the reality that Papua as an integral part of Indonesia, when Papuans through their hard work have successfully carried out a peaceful democratic process and created a society that respect human dignity. If Benny Wenda and OPM dare to question the legitimacy of the Indonesian election conducted in 810,329 voting posts all over Indonesia which 1262 voting posts are in Papua, with 80% turnout voters, and it was acknowledged by international community as the largest in the world, then Benny Wenda and OPM is simply mad.

Papua’s Christian Issues

Its always the same song they sing, if not about race then they use religion. Whatever works for them.

They really out of touch with the reality that while Indonesia predominantly Muslim, but Christian, Buddhist and Hindu and other religions are already existed longer and much longer in many parts of Indonesia then in Papua.

Do they know that cathedral in Jakarta and Semarang are among the oldest in Southeast Asia? Have they heard about Borobudur temple and hundreds of temple in Java that still been used by Buddhist pilgrim that came from all over Asia from Thailand to China and Japan?

Furthermore, talking about Islam and Christianity in Papua, Benny Wenda and his thugs forget that among the first missionaries arrived in the northern parts of Papua, they was helped and used boats and ships provided by Muslim sultanate of Ternate.

Moreover, talking about numbers of Christians in Java, Sulawesi, Maluku, Sumatra, and almost other islands in Indonesia is thousands of not million larger than the number of christian in the whole Papua.

So there you go, if not calling pure Melanesian race which is also existed in a much larger number are in other islands, at least in 5 provinces, and now they try using religion to show their case.

These complete lies and absurdity is a reflection of Benny Wenda and his OPM thugs true color of which spreading nothing to Papuans except murders, terrors and disgusts.

What else to say? Non.

Picture: St. Yoseph Church, Merauke. Source: here

Editor’s Note: Articles in Opinion section are written by West Papua Now readers. Please contact us should you wish to share your opinion to our readers.

Benny Wenda – Master of Manipulation

As a foreigner, I travelled quite extensively to almost all the provinces in Indonesia, modern and busiest streets in Jakarta to remote islands in Sumbawa, Halmahera, Manokwari, Merauke, Jayapura to say the least. I am quite familiar with Indonesia’s good and bad sides. But this OPM and Benny Wenda has really taken my special attention for quite sometime. He reminds me of those champions of manipulation such as Mussolini, Hitler, Pol Pot and other notorious criminals in our history.

Of all what he and his band has done, his latest propaganda to boycott Indonesian election was, to put mildly, interesting and funny. Benny Wenda has been asking to boycott election in Indonesia as a part of his struggle for Papua’s independence. With all of murderous, kidnapping and other atrocities by his group under the per-text of fighting the oppressor, he and his man became the worst type of oppressor of all.

It sound as if Benny’s asking the most ridiculous demand to stop a process of 250 million people in their holding democracy and their hope for a better future. It is almost similar as an attempt to stop a person to stop his or her hope for a better future for their children.

Benny Wenda would not even understand the idea of how someone working hard tirelessly for making the world a better place. Personal blind ambition could create such wildest fantasy at the expense of others. Benny wenda is a kind of person who is willing to sacrifice anything for his interest. And ironically, he is somehow quite good in manipulating almost everyone, including his own people, the Papuans.

Human history is, from time to time, having to experience this lunatic adventures of a mad man like Benny Wenda. And now Benny Wenda is willing to sacrifice the Papuans for his wild adventures

My regards to all Indonesian.

Kim

Editor’s Note: Articles in Opinion section are written by West Papua Now readers. Please contact us should you wish to share your opinion to our readers.

A Review on Chagos, Papua, and Vanuatu

A few days ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its advisory opinion stating that the UK should return Chagos to Mauritius in order to put an end to decolonization, as Chagos is an inseparable part of Mauritius since its independence day in 1968.

ICJ then refused to give a further opinion by valuing this case as a bilateral case between Mauritius and UK.

This case is surely not related to sovereignty issues, but rather an issue of decolonization which has not yet been settled.

However, the decision of ICJ was seen by few parties, who did not fully understand the meaning of the decision and associate this case to Papua issue, as a decision that supports the separation of Papua from Indonesia―making it seem as if the situation in Papua was also an unfinished decolonization process, and that Papua is a colony of Indonesia.

To straighten the fatal mistake of associating the Chagos issue with Papua’s, there should be an understanding on how Papua had become a province and an inseparable part of Indonesia.

History notes down that Papua case was a dispute between Indonesia and The Netherlands, which resulted to the Netherlands giving back Papua to Indonesia via the establishment of New York Agreementin 1962. This agreement was established due to Netherlands’ refusal to surrender all of its colonized areas when Indonesia declared its independence in 1945.

Both cases of Chagos and Papua is basically connected with an international law doctrine, Uti Possidetis Juris (you possess under law), which basically states that newly formed sovereign state should have the same borders as their preceding dependent area before their independence. This principle lays a foundation to defend the newly formed state not to be divided and separated into several different entities by its colonial power. History taught us that some colonial powers tend to divide their colony into several new entities.

Uti Possidetis Juris was then crystalized and strengthened with norms that prohibit colonial (invading) countries to separate or break the colonized countries with territorial integrity and right to self-determination. It was comprised in paragraph 6 of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoplesthat was set through UNGA Resolution No. 1514/XV 1960.

We have witnessed that UK and the Netherlands had taken similar actions where they decided to hold on to some parts of their colonized territory and separated the territory into several entities.

In Papua’s case, the bilateral dispute was then facilitated by UN Secretary-General, where the discussion led to the New York Agreement 1962. The agreement included the process of “handing over” Papua from the Netherlands to the UN, and then back to Indonesia. After Papua was handed back to Indonesia, PEPERA was set to take place. The Preamble Agreementhighlighted that Papua is a dispute matter between Indonesia and The Netherlands.

UN’s involvement in this process was intended to avoid further conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands, which could have potentially caused an open war. This conflict was then concluded with the ceasefire agreement on the 15th of August 1952.

PEPERA itself was not convened by UN, but by Indonesia itself with the participation of the UN special envoy in it. The term which was used was “plebiscite”, not “self-determination”.

The result of PEPERA was reported to the UN Secretary-General separately both by Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UN special envoy. The Secretary-General then reported this to UN General Assembly. During the discussion in the General Assembly, the Netherlands accepted the results of PEPERA as how it was in the resolution. UN General Assembly was also very “correct” in responding to PEPERA. It did not position itself as a party who endorsed the results of the agreement, but rather only to “take note” on the Sec-General report of PEPERA. This confirmed that PEPERA was not a self-determination mechanism like the one typically done by UN.

The facilitation process done by UN’s Secretary-General (even by using PEPERA) needs to be understood as a way to avoid bilateral conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands, and not as an implementation of the UNGA Resolution No. 1514 (Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) and No. 1541 (self-determination).

Therefore, history has witnessed the facts that Papua has always been a part of Indonesia since the declaration of independence in 1945.

In this regard, related to the title of this article, the confusing and misleading support of Vanuatu towards Chagos being handed back to Mauritius and Papua to be separated from Indonesia, also needs to be taking into account.

Vanuatu’s support for Mauritius is rather correct and accurate. However, if the same support is used in the Papua case, then it clearly shows that Vanuatu has double standard which demonstrates its embarrassing hypocrisy.

The author has questioned the ideological foundation that motivates Vanuatu to take such contradicting actions related to Mauritius-Chagos and Indonesia-Papua.

Here are few possibilities:

Vanuatu’s support towards decolonization is built on the international law principal of Uti Possidetis Juris. If this is the answer, Vanuatu accepted such doctrine in relation to Chagos, but rejected it if it is used in the case of Papua. Vanuatu’s response in this case can be regarded as irresponsible and hypocritical.

If that is not the reason, then the next possibility for Vanuatu to build its argument on a racist mindset is that they view the establishment of a country based on a monogamous race. This is very likely as Vanuatu often express such ideas through equally racist jargons, such as Melanesian race, etc in various events. The same things always come up in various Vanuatu’s statements to support Papua separation from Indonesia. They used a simple argument: Melanesian Papua is invaded by Indonesia which is a Malay or Asian nation. Vanuatu completely dismissed the fact that many provinces outside Papua in Indonesia are also majorly populated by Melanesians and fundamentally Indonesia is made up of different races, religions, and beliefs. Perhaps, Vanuatu still adheres to an outdated and ancient mindset.

Another possible reason why Vanuatu took such actions is that it wants to raise its name in the international community and to distract their attention from troublesome and difficulties in their own domestic condition such as acute conflicts in politics, social, and economy. Corruption, poverty, and other social issues has put Vanuatu as one of the poorest and backwards country in the world.

However, in the end, it is only Vanuatu that can explain this strange attitude. One advice the author would give to the leaders of Vanuatu: buy a good mirror, and take a look at yourselves.

Ministry Seeks to Set Record Straight on Papua

Dian Septiari / The Jakarta Post

Indonesia is intensifying efforts to weed out what it calls “the threat of fake news” cast over the country’s easternmost provinces, just as Papuan separatist groups begin shifting from political to legal arguments to justify the local population’s right to self-determination.

The Foreign Ministry has found itself having to defend against legal claims to the right of Papuan self-determination, which it says have no grounds in Indonesia’s own history of independence, according to Damos Agusman, the director general for legal affairs and international treaties.

Damos said the right to self-determination argument was legally unsound as West Papua province was already included alongside Indonesia’s other regions in the country’s declaration of independence from the Dutch in 1945.

Citing an international law principle stipulating that newly formed sovereign states should retain the same borders as that of the preceding dependent area, he said the area now known as West papua was already part of the Dutch East Indies, according to its constitution from 1938.

He also defended the legitimacy of the 1969 “Act of Free Choice”, the result of an agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia regarding the administration of the territory of West Papua signed in New York in 1962, saying it was a legitimate bilateral deal that could not be tampered with by third parties.

The ministry official informed people of the need to understand the historical context under which issues such as control over Papua was negotiated, especially in the context of colonialism.

“Self-determination must be based on several criteria, otherwise it will create chaos,” Damos told an audience of students in a seminar held at the ministry compound in Jakarta on Thursday (10/1).

The tone of Thursday’s seminar underscored Indonesia’s effort to push back on “fake news” that it says was being spread online by ill-minded activists from Indonesia and abroead.

In the past, the narrative carried by separatist groups focused more on political arguments such as the affinity of the Papuan people to the Melanesians of the South Pacific. “[Nowadays] we have detected that there are massive changes in their arguments – from political arguments to legal arguments that are wrong and misleading,” Damos said.

The issue of Papua has made it into Indonesia’s foreign policy priorities this year, despite years long efforts to stave off concerns from the international community about the country’s fight against separatist rebels.

The conflict between them flared again last month when armed separatists in Nduga, Papua killed more than a dozen people working on a trans-Papua highway construction site that was part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s efforts to bring development to the province.

The issue was addressed by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in her annual policy speech on Wednesday, which saw her pledge to take firm action against any disryptions to Indonesia’s sovereignty, including hoaxes, lies and violent acts carried out by separatists and their supporters.

“Indonesia will not give up even an inch to defend the country’s sovereignty,” Retno said in her speech.

Speaking in the context of the Nduga attacks that led to the death of 19 PT Istaka Karya construction workers and one soldier, Retno said such “disturbances” would not reduce the government’s commitment to improving the welfare of the Papuan people.

On the foreign policy front, she said she would strengthen the Melanesian kinship not only among the provinces in the eastern part of Indonesia but also with the countries of the South Pacific.

Jakarta has drawn criticism for using military approach in dealing with security issues in Papua.

According to a statement by the Human Rights Working Group, sovereignty diplomacy, especially on the issues of Papua, “will be doomed to failure” if the state insists on employing security apreach and repression”.

Source: The Jakarta Post (11 January 2018)


Roads for Communities

Yulia Indri Sari and Erman Rahman / THE JAKARTA POST

Jakarta

Trans-Papua roads connecting Wamena-Habema-Kenyam-Mumugu. Source: Viva.co.id

The government has prioritized infrastructure development in Papua and West Papua provinces, particularly to improve road connectivity. It has been argued that connectivity brings numerous potential livelihood opportunities to indigenous Papuans and improves access to other basic services and social interaction.

The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the Indonesian institute of Sciences (LIPI), recently conducted a rapid assessment of two road routes between Sorong and Manokwari in West Papua, and between Jayapura and Wamena in Papua to measure implications of road construction for the Papuans well-being.

Most national and trans-Papua roadshave been built since the New Order Era. But according to drivers and regular road users interviewed, road conditions have significantly improved since 2014. Access to Bintuni from Manokwari; to Sausapor from Sorong in West Papua; and to Elelifrom Abenaho in Papua, for instance, have undergone continuous improvements in the last four years, including through road soil compaction, construction of bridges and paving with asphalt.

Drivers of Hilux taxis (four-wheel-drive cars) no longer worry about getting stuck over night when it rains as unpaved dirt roads (the “red roads”) have been compacted. In other road sections, even smaller cars have replaced Hilux – reflecting relatively good pavement. Even ojek (motorcycletaxis) and regular modes of public transportation like angkot (minivans) and Damri government buses are operating – which to Papuans are the ultimate signs of better roads.

These public transportation optionsreduce their travel time and costs. In Pelebaga, Jayawijaya regency,mama (women) used to carry one noken (Papuan Basket) of farm produce on foot for one to two hours to get to the market and another four to five hours on their way back uphill. After the upgrading of the Wamena-Habema road segment, ojek and taxis became available to them. Now, the women can hire taxis at a cost of Rp 20,000 (US$1.30), with a travel time of only 15 to 30 minutes, and double their sales to two noken full of produce, increasing profits by Rp50,000 to Rp 100,000.

Mama living in coastal and-relatively urbanized areas are more able to benefit from this new opportunity.They have started expanding the market for their agricultural produce to farther and larger urban centers such as Sorong, Jayapura and Manokwari. This has increased their incomes by Rp. 150,000 to Rp. 300,000 per week.

However, most of them spend their additional income on consumable goods. Improved connectivity has significantly increased the accessibility of Papuans to goodssuch as rice, soap, flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate, instant noodles, cigarettes, salt, “colored” drinks and various snacks, as well as construction materials.

New merchants, mostly migrants, are the ones more ready to seize the opportunity and bring these goods to the communities. Some villagers also collectively rent cars to purchase consumable goods and construction materials at lower prices in the nearest urban centers. The implication is a more significant need for cash to buy all these goods.

Increased connectivity and household demand for cash – complemented by increased village budgets (over Rp 1 billion per village on average) that have been used mostly for housing – have increased demand for construction materials, particularly wood.And here lies the problem: men respond to the situation by cutting down more trees and selling them mostly to outsider log traders who finance them. They have also become more dependent on government social assistance and projects.

Lack of support for other types of local economic development has limited the alternative livelihoods available to them, other than utilizing natural resources. Better road connectivity, understandably, also leads to utilization of land along the roads for new villages and agricultural land. Hence, more trees are being, or will be, cut down.


Trans-Papua roads connecting Wamena-Habema-Kenyam-Mumugu. Source: Viva.co.id

Fortunately,such environmental degradation has not been amplified by significantly increased large private investment. Hence, only existing extractive industries already operating in the two provinces have mostly become better off (and degraded the environment) by utilizing the improved connectivity.

Socially,indigenous Papuans enjoy improved connectivity as families meet more often. But they are also wary of the impact of roads on the influx of migrants. While they consider migrants an integral part of their daily lives – selling them basic needs, providing cheaper and faster modes of transportation, buying the produce and wood they sell and providing skilled labor for construction work – Papuans have also expressed concern over the migrants greater ability to seize the economic opportunities presented by connectivity improvements.

In some highland areas, this has led to restrictions on migrant sellers and the operating hours of migrant ojek drivers.

However, indigenous Papuans speak profoundly on the importance of the roads to access health,education and population administration services, provided mainly in the urban centers.

Our rapid assessment also found positive consequences of improved connectivity inthe quality of health services.

In Wamena, this has given local health clinic staff a better sense of security, hence encouraging longer service hours. However, in education the opposite has happened; teachers have a perverse incentive to leave schools to move to the urban centers instead.

The rapid assessment suggests there is room to reconsider infrastructure development strategies in Papua and West Papua.

The most important infrastructure in the two provinces is the roads connecting where indigenous Papuans live in the villages with the municipality and regency capitals where basic services are mainly provided.

This should be complemented by improving basic services. Including support to improve micro-sale agriculture that would gradually increase the production level from subsistence to a level that can improve food (and nutrition) security at the local levels – a strategy to support the visions of the two provinces to promote sustainable development, as discussed at the international conference on biodiversity, creative economy and ecotourism in Manokwari on Oct. 7 to 10.

The mainstream approach of improving inter-regency and inter-province connectivity, aiming for increased large private investment, does not seem suitable to these two provinces.

With current roads in better shape, gradual improvement of human development indicators, rather than economic growth, should now be the main development target in Papua and West Papua. As one Papuan warned, “we need infrastructure for communities, not commodities”.

This article is originally published on The Jakarta Post, written by Yulia Indri Sari, who has completed her doctoral research on community driven development in Papua for the Australian National University in Canberra and Erman Rahman who holds a Master’s degree in transportation and is senior director for programs at The Asia Foundation. Please contact us should you wish to share your opinion.