AWPA Newsletter No. 62 MARCH 2005 



The Australia West Papua Association, Sydney. PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

Contents


 1) American Samoan congressman urges Australia not to forget Papua
 2)  Church leader pleads for Papua
 3) Senate Calls on Foreign Affairs Minister to Investigate West Papua Claims
 4) Reply from DFAT to AWPA letter
5) Inauguration of West Irian Jaya council protested
 6) Australia and Indonesia resume military exercises
 7)  West Papuans to return home today
 8) Indonesian Army Forms Seven More Battalions for Conflict Areas
 9) Kompas: New KOSTRAD HQ in Papua
 10) In brief



1) American Samoan congressman urges Australia not to forget Papua


Radio Australia Last Updated 06/04/2005

 
 A congressman in the United States says he hopes Australia's pursuit of good relations with Indonesia does not cause it to ignore the struggle for independence in the Indonesia province of Papua. The former Dutch colony in the western half of New Guinea island has a majority Melanesian population, and was incorporated into Indonesia in the 1960s under a United Nations-supervised process. An armed secessionist group, the OPM, has been fighting for independence ever since.

 Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, who represents American Samoa in the US Congress, says he understands Australia feels it has to support Indonesia's territorial integrity. However, he says the plight of the Papuan people is a question of fundamental human rights. "These people deserve the right of self-determination," he said. "If we're serious about the provisions of the charter of the United Nations, and about democracy as my own president is now advocating so strongly around the world, West Papua New Guinea perfectly fits that picture," he said.

 

2)  Church leader pleads for Papua

SMH  Breaking News. April 3, 2005

 A West Papuan church leader has urged the federal government not to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in his homeland as it contemplates a new security pact with Indonesia. The call from West Papua Baptist Church President Reverend Sofyan Yoman comes as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrives in Canberra for his first visit to Australia. Rev Yoman criticised a ground-breaking security treaty Australia is preparing to sign with Indonesian and which is likely to be endorsed when Prime Minister John Howard meets with President Yudhoyono. It is expected Australia will formally recognise Indonesia's territorial integrity and oppose any independence movements as part of the treaty.

 Instead, the federal government should be prioritising "human integrity" over territorial integrity, the church leader said in Melbourne. "They should be saying `we support human rights and integrity',' he said. Rev Yoman said investigations by his church showed the Indonesian military has been siphoning off money from the province's Special Autonomy Fund. The Indonesian military (TNI) had been extorting the money - a total amount of 2.5 billion rupiah ($A338,000) - at the local government level to fund its operations. Rev Yoman said the regional government had announced it had spent approximately 19 billion rupiah ($A2.56 million) to pay for medicine and food but there was no evidence of that at the village level. "We are suffering but the government is not giving us the food or medicines.'

 Rev Yoman said international donors to Indonesia such as Australia should pressure Jakarta to open a dialogue with the independence movement, the OPM. As well, Australia should be pushing its new ally to investigate the corruption claims and secure access for human rights officials to visit areas where recent military operations have occurred. He said the federal government should regard West Papua as a neighbour since it was close physically, shared a Christian culture and even had similar fauna such as kangaroos. "They are dancing while Christian people are suffering in West Papua. We are neighbours. Why are they blind men?" A continuing military offensive in the Puncak Jaya area of Indonesia's easternmost province had destroyed villages forcing up to 6,000 people to flee, Rev Yoman said. The military's strategy was to kill people by forcing them to face hunger and disease in the forest rather than shooting them outright, he said. "They create a stigma by saying the OPM are staying in this village. "The military create the problem themselves. "They come and the people run to the forest and the military burn the houses and damage the gardens and kill the pigs. It's the new system."

 Rev Yoman also warned that Islamic militia groups, backed by the military, were spreading through the province. Earlier this month the Indonesian army announced a new 15,000-strong division of its crack Kostrad troops would be formed and sent to the restive province. The poorly-armed OPM has fought Indonesian rule since Jakarta annexed Papua in 1962 and backed the takeover with a referendum in 1969 widely seen as rigged.

 

 


3) Senate Calls on Foreign Affairs Minister to Investigate West Papua Claims


Thursday, 17 March 2005
 Downer should use talks to pursue claims against Indonesian military

 Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer should use the meetings with Indonesian ministers taking place today and tomorrow to pursue claims concerning the misuse use of aid money in West Papua, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. The Senate has this morning passed a motion demanding urgent action by the Foreign Minister. “He has the ideal opportunity when he meets his Indonesian counterpart today. “I sincerely hope Mr Downer will not turn his back on human rights in West Papua in talks with his Indonesian guests.

 This morning the Senate passed the following motion moved by Senator Brown:
 The Senate (a) notes:

 (i) claims on the SBS Dateline program that international aid money earmarked for humanitarian and development purposes in West Papua has been siphoned to the Indonesian military, and

 (ii) reports of destruction of highland villages by the Indonesian military causing thousands of West Papuans to flee; and

 (b) calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Downer) to investigate the claims and report back to the Senate as a matter of urgency.

 

4) Reply from DFAT to AWPA letter

22 March 2005
 Dear Mr Collins,

 Thank you for your letter dated 28 February 2005 concerning reported human rights abuses in Papua. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Alexander Downer MP. The Australian Government is concerned about the level of tension in Papua. The Government has urged the Indonesian Government to exercise restraint, respect human rights and bring those involved in human rights abuses to justice.

 The Australian Government strongly supports Indonesia's territorial integrity, including sovereignty over Papua. We welcomed the Indonesian Government's decision of 23 December 2004 to establish the Papuan People's Council (MPR) as an important step towards the implementation of special autonomy. The Australian government has long held the view that special autonomy within a united Indonesia represents the best option for realising the aspirations of Papuans and for long-term peace and stability in the region. The Australian Government will continue to monitor closely events in Papua.

 The Government currently has a limited program of cooperation with the Indonesian military to help bolster Indonesia's anti-terrorist capability. The government takes the threat of terrorism very seriously . The Government does , however, limit its cooperation with the Indonesia military  to exclude those we know to have been involved in human rights abuses. Thank you for brining your views to the attention of the Government.  Yours sincerely
 Marc Innes-Brown,Director, Indonesian Section

 

 


5) Inauguration of West Irian Jaya council protested


 Jakarta Post.com March 26, 2005
 Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

  A 23-member delegation from the Papua provincial legislative council is protesting the installment of the controversial West Irian Jaya council. Paskalis Mossu, the deputy chairman of the Papua provincial legislature, said on Friday the move by Minister of Home Affairs M. Ma'aruf to issue a decree on the inauguration of the West Irian Jaya council showed the central government's lack of seriousness in implementing full special autonomy status for Papua.

 "Papuan people have fully supported President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his government for his strong commitment to implementing the Law No. 21/2001 on special autonomy, to suspend the West Irian Jaya council, and encourage the immediate establishment of the Papua People's Council (MRP) to tackle the West Irian Jaya issue. However, all these political commitments have evaporated after Minister of Home Affairs M. Ma'ruf issued a decree on the inauguration of the West Irian Jaya provincial legislature recently and as many as 25 of 44 members of the provincial legislature were inaugurated by the chief of the West Irian Jaya High Court on Thursday," he said.  The creation of West Irian Jaya province has triggered conflicts between Papua people and security forces.  At least three people were killed and dozens of others were injured in clashes between supporters and opponents of the establishment of the new province in 2003.  The previous president Megawati Soekarnoputri issued a controversial decree in 2003, which effectively implemented Law No. 45/1999 on the division of Papua into three provinces: West Irian Jaya, Central Irian Jaya and Papua. The controversy led to a judicial review by the Constitutional Court, which issued an ambiguous decision.

 The Court annulled in November of last year certain chapters of Law No. 45/1999 which would make any division of Papua unconstitutional because it went against the special autonomy law. The court, however, also recognized the existence of West Irian Jaya province because it already had an operating central administration, a legislature and four elected members to the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) in Jakarta.  The partition of Papua has seen by some as an effort by the central government to divide and conquer the province, where a low-level secessionist movement has been simmering since the 1960s.  Paskalis said he and his delegation were in Jakarta to consult with the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance Jusuf Anwar, and House of Representatives leaders in line with the ongoing preparations for the MRP election scheduled for June.

 Yan Ayomi, chairman of the Golkar Party faction at the Papua provincial legislature, said legislators were disappointed with the central government's move to quietly support the creation of a separate political institution in West Irian Jaya.  "This is a strong indication that Jakarta is not serious in resolving the Papua issue and the Home Ministry and its high-echelon officials have engaged in supporting the political process in West Irian Jaya to make money. Papua has financially nurtured West Irian Jaya but it has also received development funds from the central government in running the public administration," he said. Paskalis said the delegation has agreed to call for a meeting involving all elements in Papua and call on the provincial legislature to hold a special plenary session. The session would have two main agenda; to return the special autonomy rule to Jakarta and to propose a no-confidence motion in central government, he said.


 


6) Australia and Indonesia resume military exercises


 Jakarta Post.com latest news 14/4/05

 CANBERRA (AP): The Indonesian and Australian airforces have launched their first joint military exercise since relations between the two countries plummeted over Jakarta-sponsored violence in East Timor nearly six years ago, the government said on Wednesday. Indonesia scrapped a defense treaty with Canberra when Australia led a UN military force against pro-Jakarta militias who razed East Timor and killed up to 1,000 people after the Indonesian province voted for independence. All joint military training was canceled. But relations have been on the mend in recent years, with both sides working closely together after the 2002 Bali bombings and the December tsunami. Last week, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed an agreement to create a new security pact when he made his first official trip to Australia.


 As part of the agreement, Prime Minister John Howardguaranteed Australia would not support secessionists in the provinces of Aceh and West Papua. Defense Minister Robert Hill said Wednesday the joint air force exercise which began Tuesday reflected the renewed commitment between the two countries to strengthen their defense relations. "Exercise Albatros Ausindo is a further opportunity to build the relationship and it demonstrates the cooperation and our shared commitment to maritime security," Hill said in a statement, adding that both sides would look for ways to deepen their military ties. (**)

 


 


7)  West Papuans to return home today


National (PNG) 1/4/04 By ISAAC NICHOLAS

 SIX-month-old baby Paul sucked on his mother’s breast as they boarded an Indonesian vessel that will take them to his mother’s homeland in West Papua today. Young Paul’s mother, who was born and raised in Port Moresby, will be taking him to a home that will be new to both of them. They are like 400 others who will be travelling home in Merauke under a repatriation exercise sponsored by the Indonesian Government. The Indonesian vessel, MV KM Maruka Ehe, also brought in a chief, who will pull out a stick planted earlier this year in Port Moresby by another chief under a traditional practice signifying the exercise. The role of this chief is to remove the stick and take his people home. That ceremony will be held this morning near Loloki where most West Papuans have called home for the last 40 years.


 “We don’t know what the future holds for us there,” Benit Mahuse told The National yesterday. “It is our homeland, but we feel like total strangers going back there,” she said. About 50 West Papuans will leave on the vessel for Daru where it will pick up another 350 people before sailing to Merauke. Another passenger Lawrence Balagaize came to Port Moresby as a four-year-old child in 1962. He was seen carrying his four-year-old grand child along rails to board the ship. “I came as a four-year-old and now I’m taking my four-year-old grandchild back with me,” he said. He had been in Port Moresby for the last 43 years and he was sad to leave PNG. “Port Moresby is my home. I will miss many friends ,” Lawrence said. “However, I am looking forward to a new life. It is my home though I am like a stranger going back.” He said he would miss his friends at Kaugere and Hohola.

 

 

8) Indonesian Army Forms Seven More Battalions for Conflict Areas


BBC Worldwide Monitoring Service  April 14, 2005 Source: Media Indonesia,Excerpt from report by Indonesian newspaper Media  

 Jakarta: KSAD (Chief of Army Staff) Lt-Gen Djoko  Santoso said that the army was readying seven additional battalions to restore stability in conflict  areas, namely Aceh, Poso and Papua [Irian Jaya]. "These additional battalions will be tasked with  stabilising security in a number of trouble spots,"  said KSAD. He was speaking during a break in the Army's Unit Commander and Leadership Conference  held in I Division Kostrad headquarters at Cilodong,  Bogor yesterday (Wednesday 13 April).

 Three extra battalions will be sent to Aceh, three to Papua and the other one will go to Poso. KSAD  said that the addition of these battalions demonstrated  a commitment by the army to do its utmost to restore security in conflict regions. The formation of the seven  additional battalions was in its early stages and would  be completed shortly.

 KSAD added that generally, the threat to Indonesian  sovereignty was becoming more and more evident and it was therefore necessary to anticipate and move  additional forces to areas deemed to be trouble spots. When asked to consider the possibility of army troops  perpetrating human rights violations in conflict areas, KSAD stressed that TNI would be improving the sense  of duty and discipline within the psyche of its personnel  by providing training on legal ramifications, discipline and  protection of human rights when carrying out their duties  in operational areas. "So we will not have any more soldiers breaching  procedures, regulations or violating human rights," he said. The army would also increase monitoring of its military  administration system to prevent the misappropriation of operational funds. It would be obligatory to account for all  spending transparently.

 TNI Professionalism
 At the same event, TNI Commander Gen Endriartono Sutarto  emphasised solidarity and professionalism in his soldiers. These  were the key elements in facing up to and removing any threats  to security and defence. "TNI solidarity is the main thing and most important when facing  up to every challenge," he said after he briefed the conference.

 
 


9) Kompas: New KOSTRAD HQ in Papua


Kompas, 4 April 2005 Slightly abridged in translation (Tapol)

 The decision to establish a KOSTRAD headquarters in Timika and to station three new battalions in Papua is likely to upset public opinion. In this era of special autonomy, people want attention to be paid to improving welfare and the quality of life, not another army HQ or more battalions. A member of the provincial assembly, Paskalis Kosay said he supports any moves by the armed forces to strengthen security. However, locating a KOSTRAD HQ in Timika and stationing three new battalions in Wamena, Timika and Merauke, bringing the total up to six battalions at a time when special autonomy is being developed, will undermine the observance of human rights and the rule of law. This will only intensify the trauma about past military violance during the days when Papua was a military operations zone (DOM). The three battalions already stationed in Papua, along with the resort military commands, are more than enough to cope with security matters, he said.

 Petrus Ell, coordinator of Kontras Papua said the allocation of additional TNI units will add to the worries of the people who for years have been treated very unfairly by members of the armed forces. This includes a number of kidnappings by members of the armed forces, notably that of Theys Hijo Eluay, and legal processes which lack transparency and have caused widespread dissatisfaction.

 'All religious leaders, community leaders and traditional leaders in Papua have proclaimed Papua as a zone of peace,and this has been announced in all the churches and at every important meeting. The general public respect this declaration, with the result that Papua has remained calm. Why do we need KOSTRAD and more battalions here,' he said. On a number of occasions, the commander of the provincial military command, KODAM XVII/Trikora, Major General Nurdin Zainal, has said that the armed separatists in Papua amount to not more than 100 people, armed with a few weapons that they have seized from police and the army. The key to improving stability and security in Papua is to improve welfare. The struggle being waged by some groups in society to secede from the Unitary Republic of Indonesia is solely for the purpose of securing better living conditions.

 Papuans only need a limited number of army or police forces to safeguard the territory. The presence of soldiers or police who understand nothing about the customs and traditions of the Papuan people often creates new problems. Meanwhile, the Trikora military commander, Major-General Nurdin Zainul said that Papua still needs many battalions to safeguard a territory that is three and a half times the size of Java and which has a 700-kilometre border with Papua New Guinea, stretching from Jayapura to Merauke. He said that before being sent to Papua, the troops are told about the culture, traditions and special characteristics of the Papuan people.

 


 10) In brief


More Papuans Hiv positive

The Jakarta Post April 4, 2005

 JAYAPURA: The number of people with HIV/AIDS is on the rise  in Papua, with around 500 people testing positive for the virus  every year. Latest data from the Papua province health office in March this year showed that 1,874 people were HIV/AIDS positive, an  increase from the 1,749 people in December last year.  "If there's an addition of 125 HIV positive people in three months,  it means 500 in a year. That's an official figure. But if we use the theory that claims for every known HIV positive case there are  100 unknown, it might mean 5,000 HIV positive cases a year,"  said Suwardi Redjo, head of communicable diseases subdivision  at the Papua health office on Saturday.  Of the official figure of 1,874, 1,131 were HIV positive and 743 had full-blown AIDS. Most of them were between 20-29 years  of age (785), 30-39 years (451), 15-19 years (165) and 40-49 (161).

 

NT urged to contribute to Papuan research centre


ABC Darwin , Local News Sunday, 3 April 2005.

 A biologist wants the Northern Territory Government to help fund a research centre in Papua. Charles Darwin University lecturer Richard Noske is helping establish the centre to counteract environmental destruction in Papua. Dr Noske says the centre will be used to teach locals the importance of conserving their natural resources. He says the Territory Government should help to prevent the loss of biodiversity in neighbouring countries. "I believe that it's timely as the destructive processes in West Papua are really increasing and gaining speed," he said. "I think we should be involved in this just because we're so close and because it represents such an enormous research opportunity."


 

The 2003 Update of the West Papua Education Kit by AWPA (Brisbane) is now online at http://au.geocities.com/awpab/kit.htm

 

 

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 http://www.zulenet.com/awpa/

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