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International attention drawn to West Papuan struggle

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Papuan student protesters burning a coffin in Jakarta on 18 January, 2019. Photo: Twitter/Veronica Koman

Jayapura, Jubi – Efforts to focus international attention on the West Papua independence cause surged in the past week.

First, a petition claiming to represent the voices of 1.8 million West Papuans calling for decolonisation of Indonesian-ruled Papua was handed to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva.

It was presented by the chair of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, who was included in an official delegation of the Vanuatu government to a meeting with Ms Bachelet.

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Then, the office of the commissioner confirmed that Indonesia had, in principle, agreed to grant her office it access to Papua.

It represented a tentative breakthrough after the previous High Commissioner last year upset Jakarta by complaining that an invitation for his office to visit Papua hadn’t been honoured.

Thirdly, representatives of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its armed wing, the West Papua Liberation Army, held a rare press conference in neighbouring Papua New Guinea where they re-asserted their war on the Indonesian state.

They made an urgent appeal to the UN secretary-general to ensure relevant UN agencies applied scrutiny to the human rights situation in Papua, and pressed their insistence that Indonesia has occupied Papua illegally.

At yesterday’s event, they were joined by PNG civil society groups and two high-profile local MPs in calling for the international community to act on the “crisis” happening in the neighbouring territory.

Escalation

Nduga regency in Papua’s central Highlands region is the current focal point of armed conflict between Indonesian security forces and the West Papua Liberation Army.

In the most serious escalation of hostilities for years, additional Indonesian military capabilities deployed to Nduga in December after the Liberation Army massacred 17 Indonesian road construction workers.

The Liberation Army was suspicious of Indonesian military involvement in President Joko Widodo’s massive Trans-Papua road project.

Given Papuan concerns about preserving their forests and ancestral lands, the project is viewed as a threat to many communities in the Highlands heartland.

Still, the president told media his resolve to forge ahead with his government’s infrastructure development drive in Papua was all the stronger since the attack on the workers.

In her recent annual foreign policy review statement, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, said her country would “not back down, not even an inch, when it comes to its sovereignty”.

But with shootouts and killings continuing in Nduga and the surrounding region, humanitarian concerns are growing for thousands of Papuan villagers who have fled to the bush to avoid the violence.

Claims that chemical weapons have been used by Indonesia’s military against civilians in Nduga have been vehemently denied by Indonesia.

The claims are just the latest reason cited by the ULMWP in its call for the international community, specifically the United Nations, to intervene in the Pacific’s longest running conflict.

The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, peruses the petition calling for West Papuan decolonisation. Photo: Benny Wenda FB

Moresby rumblings

With concern about conflict in Papua running deep among Melanesian countries, Papua New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill-led government is under pressure to act on the issue.

The Governor of PNG’s National Capital District, Powes Parkop, announced at Thursday’s OPM press conference that he was working on introducing a motion in parliament for a change in government policy on Papua.

According to the Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, the 1986 treaty with Indonesia, which commits PNG to not interfere in domestic matters of its neighbour, is outdated and must be changed.

“And it has to be done by parliament, because it was enacted by parliament,” Mr Juffa said.

“And that’s the whole purpose of this gathering. But it is also their statement that no matter what, there’s no going back for them. Their only statement to the Indonesian government is that ‘we are willing to negotiate for freedom, nothing else’.”

Invoking the current urgency around the independence movement, the Oro Governor said West Papuans were determined and deserved the support of their neighbours.

“As Melanesians, as a Pacific nation, we have to rise up and stand up for our fellow Pacific Islanders.”

However PNG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rimbink Pato, has repeatedly ruled out PNG pushing Indonesia on the matter of Papua’s political status.

He recently said PNG was working with Indonesia on various projects in the common border area that he claimed would help foster economic development and steadily improve living conditions for West Papuans.

But chair of PNG’s Union For Free West Papua, Ken Mondiai, said the issue of West Papua should be addressed by the UN.

“Indonesia has come in in a very forceful way since the 1960s to take over using its military force. The United States of America, the UN, the Netherlands, and many of the big countries like Australia are collectively responsible. So they should be responsible to try and fix the mistakes of the past.”

Diplomatic surge

At the Moresby press conference, an OPM spokesman, Jeffrey Bomanak, announced the Movement’s official support for the Liberation Army’s declaration of war against the Indonesian state.

He said its armed struggle to end Indonesian rule would not cease until Jakarta agreed to meet for peaceful negotiations, for which the OPM is establishing a negotiating team.

However, Indonesia’s government has previously ruled out negotiations with the OPM, which it brands as a criminal group, and is unlikely to change its stance now.

Indonesia’s Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto recently told media that the government would not enter any discussions with the Army.

But apart from Indonesia, those involved in this intractable conflict are looking to the UN to help resolve the problem.

According to Mr Wenda, while the OPM and Liberation Army are united in support of his Liberation Movement’s international efforts, he cannot control them.

“We cannot control the guerillas in the West Papuan bush, who face the threat of torture and death by the colonial Indonesian military every day,” he explained.

“The guerillas have their own command structure and their own leadership, and due to geographical, logistical and communicative difficulties we do not try to direct them. The ULMWP is focused relentlessly on its goal of achieving international support for an internationally-supervised vote on independence for West Papua.”

On that front, Mr Wenda’s delivery of the petition in Geneva last Friday was described by Indonesia as a ‘manipulation’.

Indonesia’s permanent representative at the UN, Hasan Kleib, alleged that Mr Wenda has infiltrated the Vanuatu delegation.

He added that Vanuatu was disrespectful and had broken the principles of the UN charter by allowing Mr Wenda to deliver the petition.

But Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said his government had always maintained its support for the self-determination of West Papuans.

Vanuatu continues to advocate for the UN to revisit the controversial process by which Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in the 1960s.

Indonesian officials, who say the question of sovereignty over Papua is final, delivered their own shot at Vanuatu this week in Geneva where the Melanesian country was undergoing its universal periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council.

However, this week it was mainly the Papuans who made the diplomatic running. (*)

 

Source: Radionz.co.nz

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The marketing strategy of Papuan woman traders to survive amid the pandemic

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Illustration betel nut seller. – Jubi

Papua, Jubi – The COVID-19 outbreak has emerged a new dilemma for everybody. On the one hand, they should restrict their activities, but on the other hand, they have to work to get income for their families.

A consumer Delia Mallo said she is very concerned about Papuan women traders at Pharaa traditional market in Sentani, Jayapura Regency during the pandemic.

“It’s so sad to see them should go home early while not many people could come to buy their commodities,” Mallo said when shopping in Pharaa Market on Thursday (25/6/2020).

The restriction during the pandemic made the traders go home earlier than usual, and people’s concern about the coronavirus transmission has increasingly impacted on the traders’ income.

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“Since the emergence of COVID-19, I am worried (to stay longer in the market). After buying fish, I immediately go home,” said Mallo.

Because they have to go home early, traders reduce the price of their commodities to prevent substantial loss because of rot.

Tilapia fish, for example, is priced at half of its regular price. The fish harvested from Lake Sentani is usually sold for Rp 80 to 100 thousand per pile, but now sold for only Rp 40 to 50 thousand per pile. Each pile can weigh more than 1 kilogram.

“To be sold, so we just let it go at a low price. The important thing is we can still get money for trading tomorrow,” said Anace Suebu.

Mrs Suebu displayed her fish on a 2 x 3 meters table at the Pharaa Market, and her income has significantly decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic. “I could usually take Rp 1 million a day before the pandemic, but now it’s crushed,” she said.

As a result, she also needs to restrict her purchase. She could no longer be able to buy fish at large quantities. Her income has significantly declined, while she still has to continue spending money for daily needs.

“I told my customers to be patient. I cannot buy fish at large quantities because I don’t have sufficient money,” said the mother of four.

New Dilemma 

The new dilemma that emerged due to the COVID-19 is not only happening to Suebu but also hundreds or even thousands of Papuan woman traders. Their economy has suffered due to the pandemic.

“I used to bake (sell) twenty pieces of bread, but it’s only 15 now for Rp 15 thousand per piece,” said Karolina Fonataba who usually sells bread in the Pharaa Market.

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fonataba, a woman of Biak Numfor, had moved her business to the former Doyo Baru Market. She did it to cope with the restriction rule applied in Jayapura Regency. Because she lives near the market, she can adjust her trading time. Also, she adds another commodity to sell, namely sago, which she sold for Rp 10 to 20 thousand per piece.

“Relying on the income from selling bread is not enough (for daily needs).”

However, she could not stay longer in the new location and decided to return to the Pharaa Market by selling the same commodities, bread and sago.

“In the former Doyo Baru Market, there were even fewer consumers. It was only 5-10 pieces of bread sold (every day),” told this sixty-five years old woman.

Although she has added the items of her commodities and returned to the Pharaa Market, her income is still far lower than in the usual time. “I could get Rp 150-200 thousand in the past, but now it declines to Rp 50-100 thousand, while a sack of sago usually sold out in three days, but now it takes a week.”

To survive during the pandemic, Fonataba has attempted various ways. “I also deliver (sell) the bread from door to door. The customers can pay whenever they can.”

In the meantime, Mariche also applied a similar strategy of survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. She sells betel nuts at the former Doyo Baru Market. “Although people say the COVID-19 is dangerous, I keep selling. If not, we cannot eat.”

However, Mariche, a woman from Demta, has to deal with her stock purchase to avoid loss. “I used to buy 2-3 sacks, but now it’s reduced. I run out of money, while fewer customers come to buy.”(*)

 

Reporter: Yance Wenda

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Illegal gold mining in Jayapura has been happening since 2001

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Police arrested 17 people related to illegal mining in Buper, Waena, Jayapura City. – Jubi/Courtesy

Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Municipal Police arrested 17 people who allegedly were involved in illegal gold mining in Bumi Perkemahan (Buper) Waena, Jayapura City on Friday, 26 June 2020.

“These seventeen people are operators of heavy equipment and worker coordinators. There are about 70 people involved in this business,” Jayapura Municipal Police Chief Gustav Urbinas told reporters on Friday (26/6/2020).

In their operation, the Police also seized two units of construction equipment, six excavators, liquid mercury and eleven jerrycans of diesel fuel.

Police Chief Urbinas said he received a report on this illegal activity two months ago, but at that time he could not arrest those who were involved because they escaped the mining site.

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Illegal miners have carried out their activity in Buper, Waena, since 2001 because this sector was promising to generate income.

Four years ago, a gold miner Frans told suara.com about his experience regarding this illegal activity. He said people only need simple equipment such as a hoe, pan, and sifter for doing this activity. He further explained that all panning processes were traditional, starting from finding rocks, crushing it and putting the grinds in the pan. After mixing with water, the grids would look like porridge, and through the panning process, we can see gold flakes. However, to get gold containing rocks was not simple. People should dig at least three meters depth under the ground.

“But not all rocks we met contained gold. We would find out about the weight and type of gold after mixing it into liquid mercury,” he told suara.com.

Considering this, the income of gold miners was uncertain. If they were lucky, he and his friends could get 20 to 100 grams of 24 carats which could trade at Rp 400 thousand per gram.

“It’s all depending on the current gold price. It fluctuated following the increase in the oil price. But its price now is Rp 400 thousand,” he said.

Ten years ago, the Jayapura Municipal Government had attempted to stop the illegal mining in Buper that has been happening since 2001. But, the Ondofolo (Tribal Chief) of Kampung Babrongko Waena, Ramses Wally, disagreed with the city government.

At that time, Ramses said if the city government banned this panning activity, they should provide job opportunities to those illegal gold miners. (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papuan footballers and high education

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Persipura team captain  Boaz T Solossa in his graduation ceremony at Cenderawasih University. – Jubi/courtesy

Jayapura, Jubi – Ferinando Pahabol, a Papuan footballer who currently plays for Persipura, admitted that he decided to become a footballer because of his talent and hobby. But, his parents wanted him to be more concerned about his education than playing football.

Football is a popular game for children in Papua. They play football on the street, and create a local freestyle football known as ‘patah kaleng’. In this local freestyle, the goal gates are made from cans (kaleng) and no goalkeeper. Instead, all players are strikers and defenders at the same time.

Papuan children often have a dream of becoming a footballer, but their parents would never let them go further.

“Do you think you can count on football when you grow up?” said the parents who thought there is no future in football.

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Yanto Rudolf Basna, a Papuan footballer from Sorong Selatan, thought he must finish his study at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta. Therefore, he posted his gratitude on Facebook when he finally graduated after being studying for about six years, even though he is currently a centre-back defender of Sukhotai FC who competes in Thailand League. Basna previously played for Khon Kaen of Thai League 2 in 2018 but was not capable of upgrading the club to Thai League 1.

According to transfermarkt, Basna signed a contract of £125 thousand or Rp 2,212 milliard, while the most expensive Papuan footballer Boaz Sollosa get paid  £275 thousand or Rp 4,42 milliard. Another footballer Osvaldo Haay got a contract of £300 thousand or Rp 5,795 million, and Ferinando Pahabol signed an agreement of £125 thousand or Rp 2,196 milliard.

However, although he has a high-value contract, Basna still needs to finish his study at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta. He admitted to doing his exams online and has to complete his education for almost six years. He said he must fulfil his parents’ wish for him to finish his higher education at university.

“Thank God that after six years, I passed my thesis exam. Although it was online, it would not reduce my happiness,” he said on his Facebook.

Moreover, Basna, who was a former national team captain, said education is one of his burdens during his career as a professional footballer. But he finally can get through it. “It’s one of my personal goals that comes through,” said Basna.

“I remember that ten years ago before I went to Uruguay, my father, my mother, and my young siblings were sitting in the living room. Then my father asked me, “do you want to go to school or play football?” he wrote.

Without a second thought, Basna decided to play football because at that time he had an opportunity to train in Uruguay. His fellow team in SSB Numbay Star, Terens Puhiri, followed his step a year later. According to former SSB Numbay Star the late Amos Makanway, his two players Terens Puhiri and Yanto Basna had stood out since they were at Numbay Star soccer school.

“Then my father said it’s fine if it was your decision, and I got support from my family. However, my father gave me one condition, that I should give 60 per cent of my efforts to football and 40 per cent for school, and I cannot leave one of them,” said Basna.

His father’s advice becomes his reminder to keep his focus on one thing, that is his football talent. However, he is also aware that he cannot undermine another important thing, namely higher education.

Other footballers also have parents who want them to keep playing football but finish school at the same time. Take an example of three Persipura players, Gerald Rudolf Pangkali, Ferinando Pahabol, and Ronny Esar Beroperay. They all graduated from Cenderawasih University. Earlier, other footballers Ian Kabes, Stevie Bonsapia, Boaz T Solossa and Ortizan Solossa also finished their study from Cenderawasih University. (*)

 

Reporter: Dominggus Mampioper

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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