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Spotlight on West Papua abuses in British parliament

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House of commons Photo: AFP / Mark Duffy / UK Parliament

Papua, Jubi – British MPs have urged the government to do more to press Indonesia to stop human rights abuses and violence in Papua.

On Wednesday, the UK’s elected representatives in the House of Commons debated West Papua and its human rights problems.

As well as probing concerns about the ongoing military conflict in Papua’s central highlands, MPs discussed historical grievances which Papuans say undermine the legitimacy Indonesian rule in the region.

The debate heard about the issues at the core of West Papuans’ grievances with Indonesian rule.

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Witney’s MP Robert Courts of the Conservative Party pointed out that West Papuans have the right to self-determination like every other human.

But he said it was difficult to conclude that the former Dutch New Guinea’s incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s was carried out in accordance with international practice or captured the true democratic will of the West Papuan people.

“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.

“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.”

Mr Courts and several other MPs said Indonesia’s military in Papua had long committed human rights violations which went unchecked, or were dealt with before military tribunals with no transparency, leaving many victims of human rights violations awaiting justice.

Democratic Unionist Jim Shannon of Strangford said the British MPs were using the debate to speak for a people who were otherwise denied both justice and a voice.

“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.

“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.”

The debate zeroed in on the armed conflict in Papua’s Highlands between Indonesian military forces and the West Papua Liberation Army.

Indonesian military forces recently intensified their operations in the area after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 Indonesian road construction workers in Nduga regency in December.

While the conflict rumbles on, with intermittent exchanges ongoing around Nduga, a humanitarian crisis has unfolded in this remote region.

Labour MP Helen Goodman raised concern about the many Papuan villagers caught in the middle of the 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 want to talk about the use of white phosphorous. I believe that white phosphorous was used inappropriately.”

The British Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, responded to the claim that Indonesia was using chemical weapons in the conflict.

“Our own investigations have not substantiated the media claims that it was used in violation of the chemical weapons convention. But I am more than happy to look at any additional written or other evidence.”

Robert Courts said that as a close and important friend of Indonesia, the UK should apply diplomatic pressure on Jakarta for improvements on human rights in Papua.

“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 Minister said the UK was talking to Jakarta about its concerns.

“When I met the Indonesian ambassador to London in January, I raised those issues with him, 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.”

The minister acknowledged the MPs’ concerns about Papua, including regarding restrictions on media freedom and the detention of political prisoners in Papua, but said he was encouraged by Indonesian president Joko Widodo taking steps to address these problems.

Overall, the government is not about to advocate a new self-determination referendum for West Papuans

“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.” 15 seconds

Mr Field said the government would content to support efforts by the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and her officials to arrange a visit to Papua.

He also promised the British government would continue to keep a close eye on the situation in Papua. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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A survivor of Biak Massacre: Don’t stop us commemorating the victims of the tragedy

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The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Jakarta – Supplied

Makassar, Jubi – A survivor of the Biak Massacre Tineke Rumkabu warned security forces to not preventing people sprinkle flower petals at around the water tower in Biak, Papua, she told in an online forum organised by the Law School of UPNVJ on Monday (6/7/2020).

According to her, she and some friends and relatives came to the water tower to sprinkle flower petals and pray for the victims of the Biak Massacre on Monday morning (6/7/2020). However, the movement to commemorate the twenty-two years of the tragedy got attention from the security forces who were on the scene.

“I told them that I will continue to sprinkle the flower petals because they (victims) have no grave. If you tell me where their graves are, I will go there and not come here anymore [to pray and sprinkle flower petals],” said Rumkabu.

The security forces once tried to stop them. “They followed us to the scene (water tower) and told me that we did not have a permit. But at around 11 a.m. [Papua time], I entered the area of the water tower and put a flower bouquet there. I don’t care whatever the risk I would face. I would never be scared. It is the place where my friends, elders, and relatives got murdered while nobody knows their graves,” she said.

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About the tragedy, she emphasised that the state must take responsibility for both victims and their families. “Maybe the violence and injustice will end if Papua gets freedom. If we are parts of this country, we should be guarded and protected instead of massacred,” she said.

The Biak Massacre that occurred on 6 July 1998 is a dark story in Papuan history. The tragedy began with a peaceful protest for a referendum and a raising of the Morning Star flag under the water tower in Biak since 2 July 1998 but ended with a series of arrests, tortures, shots, rapes and other violence on the fourth day.

A few years ago, Elsham Papua published their result of investigation under the title “Pusara Tanpa Nama, Nama Tanpa Pusara (Grave without Name, Name without Grave)”. The report listed eight people died, three were missing, four seriously injured while 33 lightly wounded, and 150 were arrested and tortured, and 32 corpses found floating in the Biak waters.

An Indonesian human rights commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara in the similar discussion forum told that the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) already submitted their result of the investigation to the authority, but has not yet received any response.

“The Biak Massacre is a human tragedy that must be taken seriously. An initial investigation of Komnas HAM (a few years ago) found some indicators of human rights violations in the tragedy such as torture and so on,” said Beka.

Therefore, he said, the investigation team of Komnas HAM came to Papua several times to investigate this case, and in 2010 recommended Article 26/2000 about the severe human rights violation should apply to analyse the Biak Massacre. However, there was no follow up until the assignment of new commissioners.

Some activists joined the “Papua Itu Kita” movement attempting to bring up the settlement of the Biak Massacre. On 26 February 2015, they came to the Komnas HAM office and urged the human rights commissioners to follow up their investigation.

“Regarding the Biak case, I will try to bring up this issue in the plenary meeting, and discuss it with other colleagues to find a fair and dignified solution for the victims and their families,” said Beka. (*)

 

Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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TPNPB Paniai declines the extension of Special Autonomy in Papua

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TPNPB Paniai Commander Demianus Magai Yogi (holding the megaphone) – Jubi/Dok

Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua Liberation Army Division II Paniai published a statement to decline the extension of Special Autonomy in Papua.

Furthermore, Commander Demianus Magai Yogi claimed those who support this policy are taking side with colonialism. “Those who support the Special Autonomy and other policies of the Indonesian Government in Papua support the colonialist to eliminate us, the indigenous Papuans,” Yogi told Jubi on Sunday (5/7/2020).

Law No. 21 of 2001 about Special Autonomy has regulated some critical issues in Papua, including the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission Papua, the Human Rights Courts, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for clarifying or correcting the Papuan history and deploying the Special Autonomy Funds.

However, the Special Autonomy Funds that equal with 2 percent of the National Allocation Budget will terminate at the end of 2021. As a result, it has raised a discourse of evaluation and revision on the Special Autonomy Law.

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For this reason, Yogi accused those who propose the extension of the Special Autonomy in Papua are those who want to compromise with the Indonesian Government to decline the political rights of Papuan people.

“As indigenous Papuans, our primary interest is the rights of self-determination that has been neglected or taken from us through the Pepera (People’s Vote) in 1969,” said Yogi.

Therefore, Yogi said the TPNPB Pania would continue to discharge the invaders and fight for the independence of West Papua. “[We] will continue to fight until the independence of West Papuans materialised,” he said.

In the meantime, his colleague Soleman Magai Yogi stated that the Indonesian occupation of West Papua since 1963 was a conspiracy between Indonesia, the United States, Netherlands and the United Nations. This occupation is a form of violation against the standards and principles of international law.

Because as the landowner, they never involved West Papuans in the international meetings and negotiations to discuss the political status of West Papua,” he said.

Moreover, since 1963, Indonesia continues to carry out military operations that have killed many indigenous Papuans. “Indonesian authorities have chased, intimidated, terrorised, arrested and killed Papuans who fight for their rights and the sovereignty of West Papua,” he said.

To sum, he declined the ambition of Jakarta to extend the implementation of Special Autonomy in Papua. “We only ask for the rights of self-determination,” said Soleman Yogi. (*)

 

Reporter: Abeth You

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papua’s Manpower Office and PT Freeport Indonesia filed to the Administrative Court by LBH Papua

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Jayapura, Jubi- Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Papua represents the Branch Manager of the Federation of Indonesian Chemical and Mining Trade Union (PC FSP KEP SPSI) of Mimika Regency to file a case against the Papua Provincial Manpower and PT Freeport Indonesia to the Jayapura Administrative District Court. This lawsuit is a follow-up action following the labour strike of 8,300 PT Freeport Indonesia’s workers from 1 May 2017 to 2020.

“Law No.13 of 2003 on employment pledges the labour strike,” said the Director of LBH Papua Emanuel Gobay in the official release received by Jubi on Monday (6/7/2020).

Therefore, according to LBH Papua, the labour strike initiated by 8,2300 Freeport’s workers was legal by law. Consequently, PT Freeport Indonesia should immediately restore the workers’ rights to work and pay their outstanding wages following the recommendation of the First Examination Note.

Moreover, LBH Papua stated the Papua Provincial Manpower Office also acknowledged the strike by issuing the letter No. 560/1271 which then becomes a reference for the Papua Governor to publish the letter No 540/14807/SET, Re: Confirmation of PT Freeport Indonesia Labour Strike dated 19 December 2018.

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The letter confirmed the labour strike was under Law No 13 of 2003 Articles 139 and 140 about employment. Hence, it made the action legal by law.

“Therefore Papua Governor firmly stated that PT Freeport Indonesia, Private Contractors and Sub-contractors to re-employ the workers and pay their outstanding wages by the existing laws and regulations,” said Gobay.

However, from 16 December 2019 to another next thirty days, PT Freeport Indonesia has violated the two recommendations covered in the First Examination Note. To refer to Article 31 of the Regulation of the Indonesian Minister of Manpower No. 33 of 2016 concerning the Procedure of Labour Inspection, the Labour Inspection Division should issue the Second Examination Note after the thirty days of misconduct.

Therefore, this lawsuit reflects the interest of their client, PC FSP KEP SPSI) Mimika Regency, to urge PT Freeport Indonesia to implement the recommendation and the Labour Inspection Division to issue the Second Examination Note.

“We also ask the Chairman of Regional Parliament to review both the Manpower Office and PT Freeport Indonesia in regards to their obligation to fulfil the rights of 8,300 workers who were involved in the strike,” confirmed Gobay.

Also, Gobay asks the President of the Republic of Indonesia as well as the Minister of Manpower to protect and fulfil the rights of these workers. (*)

 

Reporter: Edi Faisol

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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