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How land grabbers weaponise indigenous ritual against Papuans

Christians in Indonesia’s Papua Province Increasingly Under Threat

By Gina Goh

03/27/2019 Washington D.C(International Christian Concern) – In predominantly Muslim Indonesia, its largest and easternmost province, Papua, a place where over 80% of the population identifies as Christian, stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country which holds the world’s largest population of Muslims.

Blessed by missionaries from the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States with the Gospel, the resource-rich region, however, has long suffered from economic inequality, lack of development, and human rights abuses from Jakarta. It continues to be the country’s least developed and most impoverished area.

Now, Christianity in this region is also increasingly threatened as the influence of Islam grows. The number of Muslims and mosques particularly in cities has increased, especially in Jayapura district. Many old mosques are demolished and rebuilt with taller minarets to overshadow nearby churches.

On February 27, with samurai swords in their hands, a gang of six led by a controversial Muslim cleric ransacked a Christian man’s home for playing Christian music at dawn as a nearby Islamic boarding school was observing morning prayer.

Ja’far Umar Thalib, the cleric who runs Ihya As-Sunnah Islamic boarding school in Muara Tami district, allegedly barged into the home of Henock Niki around 5:30 a.m. with several sword-wielding followers dressed in white.

“The perpetrators then severed the cables of the victim’s speakers. They told him that the loud music was disturbing worshipers in the mosque,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta. Other news outlets also reported that the mob went on to damage the speakers and injure the man’s 14-year-old son.

According to Dedi, Henock told the attackers that the morning prayer was at 4:15 a.m., which should have been over by that time. They subsequently fled south in a minibus.

“The perpetrators then severed the cables of the victim’s speakers. They told him that the loud music was disturbing worshipers in the mosque.”

The attack on Henock’s house drew protests from local residents who immediately took action to block the road to stop the perpetrators from fleeing. Residents reported the incident to the police and asked them to arrest the mob.

The police were able to apprehend the suspects and secure evidence from the scene, including five samurai swords, several long machetes, and a number of media materials from Laskar Jihad, Thalib’s radical Islamic organization.

Reskrimum Director of the Papua Regional Police, Commissioner Tonny Harsono, told reporters, “We are charging the seven suspects with Article 170 Paragraph 2 concerning destruction, while three of them will also be charged with Law Number 12 of 1951 concerning ownership of sharp weapons.”

Thalib is known for his radical line of thoughts and actions. He recruited a “jihadist army” to fight in a deadly conflict between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, in the Maluku Islands, that claimed the lives of approximately 5,000 people between 2000 and 2003.

On March 4, more than 2,000 Christians in Papua took to the streets to demand Thalib’s expulsion.  They held a protest outside the Papua governor’s office in the provincial capital Jayapura. Protesters said they would take the matter into their own hands if the governor failed to expel Thalib.

Rev. Dorman Wandikbo, president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia who was part of the rally, said, “His presence has damaged interreligious harmony in Papua, and if no action is taken, he will turn this place into a land of conflict.”

He also added that Thalib’s influence was spreading in Papua. “We don’t want him to create another conflict like the one that devastated Ambon,” he stated.

Members of the minority Muslim community in Papua are also in support of his expulsion. Taha Alhamid, a Muslim leader who was part of the rally, said his community also believed that Talib should be returned to his hometown.

“We want the police to immediately remove him from Papua,” he said.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:

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via IFTTT March 30, 2019 at 08:36AM

Vanuatu requested to support China’s candidate for top FAO post

Vanuatu has been requested to support China’s candidate for the postition of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director General (DG) in this year’s election during the 41st Session of the FAO Conference.

The Chinese Minister of Agriculture, Han Changfu, made the request to Vanuatu’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-Security (MALFFB), Hosea Nevu,during their dialogue yesterday.

Minister Changfu told Minister Nevu and high officials from the MALFFB that the government of China has nominated a candidate for the agency’s top leadership post and wants Vanuatu’s support during election at the FAO Conference in June, the highest governing body of the organisation.

If elected, China will help Vanuatu and other developing nations in food security related issues, said Minister Changfu.

FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) combating hunger and poverty.Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.

The FAO DG post is very important because whoever is elected will head the agency and the wide range of responsibilities include overseeing food-aid programmes in over 150 countries across the globe.

The election of the new FAO DG in June this year will bring together all 194 FAO member countries. The new FAO DG will be elected by a majority vote, cast by FAO member countries.

In his response regarding the request from Minister Changfu for Vanuatu to back up China’s nomination at the FAO Conference, Minister Nevu said: “The request requires collective decision making.

“The MALFFB and Trade will submit a paper on this to the Council of Ministers (COM) to make the decision”, he said.

According to the Chinese Minister of Agriculture, China’s candidate for the FAO DG Position is Dr Qu Dongyu, the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The Chinese Agriculture Minister Changfu was in Port Vila for a one-day visit.

He was accompanied by a high officials from the China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The delegation includes the Director General of Fisheries, Zhao Liliang, Director of the Department of International Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Wu Changxu, Vice President of Chinese Academic of Tropical Agriculture and Science , Liu Guodao, Deputy Director General of General Office Liv Ruiming, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation, Xie Jianmin, Director of Bureau of State Farms and Land Reclamation, Deng Qingin , Deputy Director of International Cooperation, Wu Changxuo and the head of the China National Agriculture Development Cooperation, Yudifei.

They will leave Port Vila today (Wednesday) to proceed on their journey to Fiji where they will attend the Second China-Pacific Island Countries Agricultural Minister’s Meeting.

The two-day meeting starts tomorrow (Thursday).

Source: VDP

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via IFTTT March 28, 2019 at 08:01AM

4 New Ministers in Vanuatu Parliament

Parliament has been summoned for a special sitting on Friday March 29, 2019.

The special sitting was ordered by the Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Saimon on Wednesday, 20 March on the advice of Prime Minister Charlot Salwai.

The main agenda to debate is to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu, chapter seven sub-article 40 (2) which states “The number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, shall not exceed a quarter of the number of members of Parliament”, and to replace “quarter” with “third.”

This simply means the Prime Minister can appoint four additional ministers, making a total of 17 ministries altogether, from a quarter to a third of the members of parliament.

According to a copy of the order notice of parliament, Prime Minister Salwai said “the rationale behind this amendment is due to the fact that some ministers today have been assigned too many portfolios thus affecting the efficient and effective running of the ministries concerned.

“This amendment will result in the withdrawal of portforlios from such ministers and assignment of such portfolios to the new ministers and the increase in the number of ministers will also ensure more efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of government policies by the ministries concerned and their respective departments”.

The second amendment of the constitution is for the appointment and removal of Parliamentary Secretaries (PS) by the Prime Minister and the number of PS that may be appointed must not exceed a quarter of the number of ministers and the parliamentary secretaries will be carrying out the functions that may be assigned to them by the Prime minister.

They will insert the following provision to article 46 of the constitution: (a)Appointment and removal of PS, (1) The Prime Minister may appoint PS from amongst members of parliament; (2)The number of PS must not exceed a quarter of the number of ministers (3) The Prime Minister is to assign responsibilities for the conduct of the government to the parliamentary secretaries and (4) The Prime Minister may remove the PS from the office.

This means there will be an increase of PS from five to thirteen.

Daily Post understands that the four new ministries will see the separation of ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Biosecurity and Forestry and the Ministry of Trade and Commerce and probably a new ministry.

This special sitting has created controversy between political parties within the government and sources close to some political parties within the government said they will vote against the bill.

Leaders Party of Vanuatu (LPV) President Jotham Napat has told Daily Post the LPV will not support the Government’s bid to increase the number of ministers.

“In whose interest will they be increasing the number of ministries for – the people or the politicians?” LPV President Napat questioned.

“The Prime Minister must assess the performance of some of his ministers. If some of the current ministers are not performing and he increases the number of ministries, it will not make any difference.

“It is an abuse of power because they have the numbers and want to drive this initiative just for the interests of some people.”

MP Napat said the PM must make decisions in the national interest, not the interests of the government backbenchers.

He also commented on the second item in the proposed Constitutional amendment which provides for the appointment and removal of PS by the Prime Minister, which states the number of PS must not exceed a quarter of the number of ministers and that they may be carrying out functions assigned to them by the PM.

“It’s just the same thing – they have now realized the Leader of Opposition has lodged a Constitutional case in Court, and are trying to defend their actions,” he said.

“Why increase ministerial portfolios and have PS? The two are the same.”

Article 85 in Chapter 14 of the Constitution states, “A bill for an amendment of the Constitution shall not come into effect unless it is supported by the votes of no less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament at a special sitting of Parliament at which three-quarters of the members are present.

If there is no such quorum at the first sitting, Parliament may meet and make a decision by the same majority a week later even if only two-thirds of the members are present”.

Source: VDP

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via IFTTT March 28, 2019 at 07:51AM

Minister Napuat Announces Vt1 Million Constituency Allocation for Councillors

For the first time ever, the Government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) has decided that all elected Councillors will receive Vt1,000,000 for development purposes in their constituencies.

The Constituency Allocation was first introduced in the last quarter of 2018. After the release of funds in the 4th Quarter of 2018, the Parliament considered the importance of maintaining the constituency allocation as development funding for all 99 elected councillors and further appropriate funding in 2019 budget.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat said it is important to note that Constituency Allocation were never appropriated in the past except Development allocation.

“The appropriation of these funds is a demonstration of the parliament’s desire to see elected councillors contributing to supporting development in their constituencies and importantly, support Area Councils where services are needed,” he said.

“It is equally important to also note that the Parliament expects that these Constituency Allowances are used strictly for development purposes and reporting on the use of the allocations is important to provide assurance to the Parliament for its continuity in release another quarter of funds.”

Hence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs developed a set of guidelines to assist the councillors with the use of funds. The Constituency Allocation Guidelines are being developed to guide the elected councillors on the best use of the allocation and the processes for accessing funds.

Further, these guidelines will provide useful information and data for reporting by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) to parliament on use of the funds and in turn, assures the parliament that public funds are being made to good use for development at different constituencies.

The Guideline commences with a key reference to the Public Financial and Economic Management Act (PFEM Act) which reminds all that constituency allocations are public money which are collected, received and held by the state, they are required to be managed responsibly and accounted for.

With directions on what an elected councillor needs to consider when applying for funds, the guideline provides a reminder to ensure that a report is to be provided on the use of the constituency allocation.

Written in three different contexts — English, French and Bislama, all elected councillors are reminded to consult the Secretary Generals and Town Clerks to provide guidance on the completion of forms including reporting on the use of funds.

“We expect a change in the communities, for the benefit of the people and our economy as a whole,” the minister said.

“We also expect communities to engage with their area councils which in turn encourages participation from each community member. These funds will support the ideas of community projects, drawn up by area councils and chiefs so they can contribute to the development of their own communities.”

Funds will be released to the provinces and municipalities every quarter and all Secretary Generals, Clerks and Accountants are responsible for the release of funds including supporting the elected councillors on the use of funds.

“As Minister responsible for the MoIA, I would like to remind all that this is the first time for a substantial amount of money to be assigned to elected councillors. Councillors are reminded to ensure that funds are used according to the guidelines and for the intended purposes requested for.

“These funds are for development purposes and elected councillors are encouraged to invest in projects at their constituencies as part of their contributions to implementing decentralisation at their level.

“Elected Councillors are also encouraged to use the funds for their priority projects at the Area Councils and Ward level thereby contributing to development at the Area or Ward level.

“Failure to use these public funds for the correct purposes can lead to Parliament ceasing the allocation in future budget appropriations.

“Finally, I wish to announce that all Councillor Allocation funds will be paid to all provinces and municipalities this week. LPOs have already been signed and will be deposited at the Ministry of Finance. I look forward to receiving and reporting updates to parliament on the use of the Constituency Allowance.”

It is the MoIA’s hope that correct use of the funds can result in more funds allocated by the Parliament in the future.

Source: VDP

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via IFTTT March 27, 2019 at 07:45AM

Sogavare: we leave behind $188M plus cash reserve

THE Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) had ended its term in office with more than $188million in cash reserves for working capital for the new government.

That’s according to outgoing Finance minister Manasseh Sogavare.

“This is a net of un-presented cheques of $25.9 million, which is $214million gross,” Sogavare claimed.

He stated this during Kadere Party’s launching of their candidate for Gizo/ Kolombangara, Lanelle Tanagada last week.

Sogavare hit out at criticisms against the DCC Government as being corrupt.

“I find these statements very insulting and made by people who are frustrated that their days in Solomon Islands politics is fading away into history because of pride and arrogance,” he said.

Sogavare stated that he finds the allegations of corruption amusing “because we only need to look at the way voter registration is potentially subject to manipulation because people from other constituencies as far as Malaita and Guadalcanal were going to be brought into this constituency (Gizo/Kolombangara) to vote, but were objected during the objection period,” he said.

He stated that contrary to the claim by some people, the country is making steady progress and this includes the fact that the foreign reserve continues to be healthy with an adequate safety net for importation while the country continues to import capital goods, food and medicines. 

Meanwhile, Sogavare also stated that a number of political parties are “promising the moon” during this campaign period which they will not be able to deliver.

“These are empty promises which are potentially dangerous to peace and harmony if the expectations of the people are not met,” he said.

“For the record, the country only collects $3 billion inclusive of aid funds that are already fixed and of which the health, education and policing sector get the bigger share of funding allocations. 

“The only group that is talking sense based on proven records during this campaign period is Kadere Party and its affiliated group of independent candidates,” he said. 

The long term strategy to address the capacity of this country to be able to deliver all which has been promised by the other political parties, is to broaden the economic base.

According to Sogavare, “we can only do that after we address the basic prerequisites such as land law reform and provide for full participation of the traditional leaders in the governance process of this country because they own all the land and resources of this country.

“Only then can we realistically talk about progressive development,” he added.

– Kadere Party Media

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via IFTTT March 26, 2019 at 08:50AM

TIV Against Pardoning Former MPs

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) says it will be a backward step for Vanuatu if the former members of parliament that were convicted in 2015 are pardoned.

TIV Chairman, Dr Willie Tokon who stated this on behalf of TIV, warned of the negative impacts of a pardon of the former MPs on the country if the President issues a pardon for the convicted individuals.

“When these people were convicted by the courts, we were ashamed at first that our leaders could be involved in this high level of corruption.

“But then we heard from people in other countries that they are surprised and impressed that Vanuatu could stand up to corruption and put the wrongdoers in jail.

“Vanuatu’s commitment to following the rule of law was held up as an example to the whole of the Pacific Islands region,” Dr Tokon said.

He says the only reason for the pardoning of the former MPs is to allow them to contest the national elections next year.

“Most of them are no longer in prison; they are back home with their families and in their communities.

“For those that are in prison, the President has the option of commuting their sentences, which would mean they could be freed,” TIV stated.

TIV has also written to President Moses Obed Tallis to raise its concern about the proposed pardoning of the former members of parliament.

“We have seen media reports indicating that you are considering issuing pardons to a number of former MPs who were sentenced in 2015 on charges relation to very serious corruption.

“We humbly recognize that the power to pardon is assigned to you and you alone under section 38 of Vanuatu’s Constitution.

“We are aware that the Office of the President has been under a lot of pressure to issue these people with pardons.

“We are very sorry that you have been subject to these pressures and that the late President Baldwin Lonsdale experienced the same.

“We can understand this has been very difficult.

“We remember that late President was steadfast in his resistance to the many calls that were made for him to pardon these people.

“We are praying that you too will be able to stand steadfastly against these calls for the good of our country,” TIV stated in its letter to the President, signed by Chairman Dr Tokon.

Dr Willie Tokon was a member of the Pardon Committee established by Minister of Justice Don Ken. He represented the Health Practitioners Board in the Committee.

Source: VDP

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via IFTTT March 26, 2019 at 08:45AM

Vanuatu protests and raises disappointment with French President

The Office of Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, has made it known that a letter was sent to French President, Emmanuel Macron, to express Vanuatu’s disappointment and protest against the France for sending its warship to Matthew and Hunter.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that the action by the French navy in January disrespected Vanuatu’s sovereignty and culture as the two islands were part of Tafea Province.

PM Salwai has said that such action will not lead to an amicable solution, especially at a time when Vanuatu and France agreed to dialogue on sorting their maritime boundary.

“Vanuatu wants a friendly solution that is done according to cultural heritage that is linked with Matthew and Hunter and follows the declaration by the Customary Senate of New Caledonia,” Mr Salwai stated.

The Prime Minister said Vanuatu’s independence is not complete as there are boundary issues that are yet to be resolved with Fiji and France.

The Government is appealing to the governments of France, Fiji and United Kingdom to assist in resolving the boundary issues but not to take actions that do not help to promote peace.

This was said in reference to an agreement between Fiji and France in 1983 and another between United Kingdom and France.

Mr Salwai says a priority of the government he leads is to resolve this outstanding issue relating to the maritime boundary to the east and west of Vanuatu as well as deal with Vanuatu’s airspace and see the return of Matthew and Hunter.

Source: VDP

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via IFTTT March 26, 2019 at 08:41AM

Another nabanga has fallen: Malvatumauri

The Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs’ peaceful protest over Matthew and Hunter that was initially planned to happen today has been postponed to Friday, April 5 because of the death of a former Prime Minister, late Donald Kalpokas Masike’ Vanua.

“On behalf of all chiefs and people of Vanuatu from the Torres through to Aneityum and Matthew and Hunter Islands, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of the late Kalpokas, and the people of Lelepa Island, North Efate, Efate, Shefa Province, the Vanuatu Government and the people of Vanuatu,” said Malvatumauri President, Chief Willie Grey Plasua. “We, the chiefs of Vanuatu bow humbly and mourn one of our great leaders and statesman who has left us.”

Chief Plasua described the late Kalpokas as one of Vanuatu’s ‘fallen nabanga’.

“The late Kalpokas Masike’Vanua was not only a politician, former Prime Minister and statesman, but he was also an elder in the church and a chief who highly respected Vanuatu’s customs values of and held his customary title of ‘Masike’ Vanua’ up to the time of his passing away,” the Malvatumauri President said.

“Today, the sounds of bubu and tamtam are heard in mourning for one of our great leaders and to farewell his departure from this world, but his legacy and footprints will always remain with us and in this nation.”

Chief Plasua said the chiefs’ peaceful protest will take place after the 10th day mourning period of the late former Prime Minister as the highest chiefly customary respect bestowed on a national leader.

Vanuatu Daily Post

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via IFTTT March 22, 2019 at 11:41AM

The crackdown in West Papua continues before the pools

By Nithin Coca

WITH increasingly regular protests and a violent crackdown by police and the military, the contested Indonesian region of West Papua is currently seeing the highest levels of agitation it has experienced in years. Against a backdrop of Indonesia’s forthcoming general elections in April, tensions are rising over long-standing human rights violations, pro-independence agitation and lack of accountability for crimes committed by security forces.

“The situation is not improving for the better, it’s getting worse,” says Ronny Kareni, an Australian-based activist of West Papuan origin. “There is a divergence between Jakarta and locals, and that is deeply rooted in the historical status of West Papua.”

On 1 December 2018, more than 500 people were arrested in cities across Indonesia for commemorating the 57th anniversary of Papuan attempts to declare independence from Dutch colonial rule. Raising the pro-independence Morning Star flag or publicly expressing support for Papuan self-determination is considered a criminal offense against the Indonesian state.

The following day, on 2 December, pro-independence militants are reported to have killed up to 31 workers on the Trans Papua Highway construction project in the Nduga region of the Papuan highlands. Although the ongoing independence conflict in West Papua has resulted in the deaths of approximately 500,000 Papuans since 1969, this was the deadliest attack by militants in recent years.

The government response has been fierce, withactivists reporting that military action has forced thousands to flee their homes.

With the media and civil society prevented from independently visiting the region, these reports are difficult to verify, but international human rights organisations have made pleas for calm. “We call on all parties, the Indonesian army, police and the Free Papua guerrilla fighters, not to target civilians,” says Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

West Papua, which forms about half of the island of New Guinea, was not part of Indonesia when it gained independence from the Netherlands in 1949. It was annexed in 1969 in a military-run election approved by the United Nations, in which about 1,000 hand-picked representatives were forced to vote against independence. West Papua was then ruled with the strongest of iron fists during Indonesia’s New Order era under General Suharto (1966-1998), before being granted special autonomy status in 2001 in a bid to quell the independence movement. The island’s population, estimated at around three million, are mostly Melanesian and follow either Christianity or indigenous religions, unlike the rest of Indonesia which is mostly Polynesian and Muslim.

Natural resources have played a significant role in shaping the trajectory of Papuan history. Shortly after the rigged election of 1969, Freeport McMoRan, an American mining company, began operating in the region. This marked the beginning of a long relationship which has proved prosperous for the company and the Indonesian government. However, tax revenues mostly go to the western part of Indonesia which is much more developed; West Papua, in the east of the country, is the poorest region in Indonesia and its people see few benefits from resource extraction.

Jokowi’s promises of reform

In 2014, then Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (now president of Indonesia), an outside candidate in the presidential elections with no connection to Indonesia’s elite or military, made several campaign promises to address human rights in Papua. This included addressing the ability of the military to use its own internal trial mechanism rather than civilian courts, opening up the region to the foreign media and freeing political prisoners. Papuans saw hope in Jokowi, and he won the two provinces (Papua and West Papua, formerly Papua until 2003) that make up West Papua by more than 30 percentage points each. In an election where Jokowi won nationally by only 6.3 per cent, the region provided him with some of his best results.

Even months after his inauguration, President Widodo reiterated his promises directly to Papuans after a police shooting in Paniai killed five people.

“Jokowi made bold promises in front of Papuans attending Christmas celebrations, saying that he would investigate and solve this case, and bring peace to Papua,” says Papang Hidayat, a researcher at Amnesty Indonesia.

Jokowi initially made a few attempts to improve the situation in West Papua by releasing five political prisoners in 2015 and declaring the region open to foreign journalists, for example. But his power has been limited due to the role of security forces in West Papua, including the Indonesian soldiers who have maintained their presence in the region despite the fall of Suharto’s military rule more than two decades ago. As a result, most of his promises to make reforms remain unfulfilled.

“It became clear to many people that whatever [Jokowi] says, it will not be implemented,” says Kareni. “He is only a face for democracy, but [he is] not actually in power.”

Harsono agrees: “The situation on the ground, especially the resistance from the bureaucracy, is much bigger than his presidential authority, I’m afraid.”

Attempting to address political grievances through economic development

One area in which Jokowi has been able to push forward is on development. The government is investing massively in roads, airports and agriculture, including a plan to build 1.2 million hectares of palm oil and sugar plantations.

Following decades of underdevelopment, “the government feels the need to pay more attention to Papua,” says Arie Ruhyanto, a lecturer in the Department of Politics and Government of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. “Given the political setting, the option is limited to the non-political issues…hence, the Papua problem is always framed in the context of development issues, such as poverty and underdevelopment.”

In the end, this has only increased tensions, as many Papuans feel that development is either aimed at extracting resources or benefitting migrant workers from other parts of Indonesia. That’s one reason why the December attack by separatists was against the construction of the centrepiece of this new development plan – the 4,300 kilometre Trans-Papua Highway.

The response to the attack also highlights a major problem – that many in the Indonesian security apparatus do not distinguish between the peaceful protests and aspirations of the vast majority of Papuans, and a small minority of militants. In response to the Nduga attack, police arrested members of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), a student-run organisation that coordinates peaceful protests, and forcefully closed their offices.

With the security forces entrenched and Jokowi’s power limited, many fear that the divide between the two sides is growing. Papuans know that the April elections are unlikely to change anything.

Gaining momentum

However, instead of waiting and hoping for action from Jakarta, more West Papuans are starting to agitate on local, national and global stages. In 2014, several West Papua independence organisations unified under the banner of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), headed by the renowned Papuan activist Benny Wenda. The entity has been active within the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, founded in 1971, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group within it, which counts the four Melanesian nations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as members.

“In 2015, the ULMWP put in an application bid for a membership of observer status,” says Kareni. The bid was successful. “For Papuans it was a recognition of our cause. The movement has gained a lot of momentum, especially in the Pacific.”

In 2017, organisers in West Papua undertook an impressive effort, smuggling a petition across the island and collecting signatures from 1.8 million residents – 70 per cent of the population – in support of an independence referendum, as promised in the 1960s. The petition was delivered to the United Nation’s Special Committee on Decolonization, to which Indonesia responded by arresting Yanto Awerkion, a KNPB activist and organiser of the petition drive, and sentencing him to 10 months in prison.

One small opportunity to shine a light on the human rights abuses taking place in West Papua came when a UN human rights panel issued a statement condemning racism and police violence in the region, resulting in a rare apology from the Indonesian police for one incident in particular.

There is also hope in the expression by the Indonesian foreign ministry that it will allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. However, civil society are skeptical that the UN visit, if it takes place, will result in concrete changes.

“It is not new,” says Harsono, referring to previous invites that were not followed up with visas or details. “I won’t believe it until I meet them in Jayapura, until I see them in Papua.”

Meanwhile the election campaign is gathering steam, with the Nduga incident becoming a campaign issue, spurring increased nationalist sentiment against West Papuans. Unfortunately, there may be little that either Jokowi or his opponent – former military general Prabowo Subianto, who has a checkered record due to his involvement in East Timor – can do to change the plight of Papua.

“Whoever the president is, he will be in a difficult position since all political forces in Indonesia, whether the nationalist, the military or Islamic groups, seem to be reluctant to address the human rights issue,” says Ruhyanto. “It remains a marginal topic that only concerns a handful of activists and academics.” (*)

Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on social and economic issues in developing countries, and has specific expertise in south-east Asia.

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via IFTTT March 12, 2019 at 11:31AM

Satu anggota Brimob tewas dalam kontak tembak di Mugi, Nduga

Indonesia urged to invest in understanding Papuans

A Papuan academic says Indonesia’s approach to development in his homeland shows a lack of understanding about Melanesian culture.

Australia-based anthropologist Yamin Kogoya said there is too much emphasise on ramming the Indonesian state ideology down Papuans’ throats.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has pushed major infrastructure development projects in Papua in the past three years.

But Mr Kogoya said the government’s approach sees Papuans as a threat or even second class citizens in need of handouts.

He urged Jakarta to develop Papuan human resources.

“See Papuan people as ahuman being who have history and language. These people have survived in this part of the world for millenia. And I think Indonesia, after 60 years, they don;t really fully understand the value system and the culture and the language of the Papuan society.”

Mr Kogoya said another major factor inhibiting Papua’s development was the presence of Indonesia’s military.

He said the effect of having a military or police post in every town and many villages in Papua could not be under-estimated.

“These people, they’re fully armed and carrying around these big machines guns and weapons. You don’t use this sort of mechanism to help people understand the value system of Indonesia as a nation,” he said.

According to him, the military’s involvement in education in Papuan villages was problematic.

“You see Indonesian military going to the villages and starting teaching the Papuan children in their village schools,” he explained.

“I have experienced this many times when I was growing up in the village, in the Highlands. They obviously don’t use the curriculum or have clear guidelines, but they go in there with their weapons where the children can see.”

According to Mr Kogoya, this was how the military sought to teach Papuan children about the state ideology regarding the integrity of the Indonesian republic, and the Pancasila ideology.

“If you want Papuan children to love Indonesia, this is not the way to do it,” he said.

Source : RNZ

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via IFTTT March 20, 2019 at 10:26AM

Papuans face violence, detentions, threats – US State Dept report

A new US government report has found West Papuans continue to face violence, politically-motivated detentions and threats in Indonesia.

The findings were part of a State Department review of Indonesia’s human rights conduct last year.

The report, released on Wednesday, found clashes involving police, military and indigenous communities in Papua and West Papua continued in 2018.

It said state accountability had been hampered by a lack of transparent investigations into past human rights abuses.

On Wednesday, Indonesia’s representative to the UN said these violations continued to be dealt with by the Attorney-General.

The US State Department report said a number of Papuans were briefly detained for peacefully expressing political views.

“Papuan NGOs and activists received threatening phone messages and reported continuous harassment by local police.”

The report added that would-be demonstrators were refused permits by Police in Papua because they were likely to make calls for independence, which is prohibited in Indonesia.

“Restrictions on foreign journalists travelling to Papua and West Papua Provinces remained,” it said.

Read the full report here.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 16, 2019 at 02:14AM

Humanitarian concerns grow as violent conflict worsens in West Papua

By Johnny Blades of RNZ Pacific

As the numbers of casualties and displaced people in Papua’s Highlands pile up, prospects for an end to armed conflict in the Indonesian-ruled region appear dim.

Humanitarian concern is growing for villagers who have been displaced by conflict in the Highlands between Indonesia’s military and the West Papua Liberation Army.

But even elected Papuan leaders in government pushing for a de-escalation of military operations risk a reprimand or threat of prosecution from Indonesia’s military.

READ MORE: The Trans-Papua Highway and other ‘development’ projects

In the latest bout of clashes last week, Indonesia’s military says between 50 and 70 Liberation Army fighters descended on soldiers guarding the construction of a bridge in Nduga’s Yigi district.

Indonesia’s military said three members died before the military was able to drive the rebels back. It also claimed that between seven and ten Liberation Army fighters were killed.

According to the Liberation Army, the violence on Thursday was sparked when Indonesian soldiers interrogated a local villager and then set fire to five houses.

Indonesian military and police operations intensified in the remote Highlands regency of Nduga in December after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers.

Military engineers
The Indonesian government’s major Trans-Papua Road project was already controversial among Papuan Highlands communities without the involvement of military engineers on the job adding to mistrust among Papuans.

However, as military operations to pursue the Liberation Army’s guerilla fighters ramped up, thousands of Nduga villagers caught in the middle of hostilities fled to the bush or neighbouring regencies such as Jayawijaya.

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia’s military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua’s Highlands.

An Indonesian academic, Hipolitus YR Wangge of Jakarta’s Marthinus Academy, has been working on research in Papua and found himself volunteering help for Nduga’s refugees streaming into Jayawijaya’s main town of Wamena.

He said the people were traumatised and short on basic needs, having come from a regency which is extremely isolated. According to him, more than 2000 Nduga people have sought refuge in the Wamena area, including over six hundred children.

“Those refugees are coming down from the jungle, from Nduga, and they have nothing here, even the local (Jayawijaya) government here say ‘these are not our people, these are not Jayawijaya people, it is Nduga regency people, so let their government deal with this one’,” he said.

“On the other hand, Nduga’s government, their focus is mainly on those Nduga people who are running away and staying in the (local) jungle.”

Displaced children
The impact of displacement was also seen by Peter Prove, a member of a delegation from the World Council of Churches which was last month permitted to visit Papua.

“And in particular in Wamena we met with a group of more than 400 children and adolescents who were displaced, and who were being provided with refuge in the compound of the Roman Catholic Church there,” he explained.

“And we heard very alarming stories about the circumstances under which they had fled from their territory, including indications of a very strong-armed military response.”

An emergency makeshift school was established by volunteer groups in Wamena for the displaced children. However last month when Indonesian military and police personnel came to the school, a number of children reportedly ran away in fear.

Concerned for the displaced communities, governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, recently called for Indonesia’s president to withdraw troops to allow villagers to return home and access basic needs.

His call was echoed by local parliamentarians, customary leaders, church and civil society organisations who continue to press for a de-escalation of military operations in the region.

However Indonesia’s military spokesman in Papua, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, has warned that the governor had violated state law and should be prosecuted.

‘Defending sovereignty’
“A governor is an extension of the state in the region and is obliged to defend the sovereignty of the republic of Indonesia,” Colonel Aidi explained.

“A governor must support all national strategic programs. But on the contrary the governor through his statement actually inhibited the national development process.”

A West Papuan anthropologist based in Australia, Yamin Kogoya, worries that telling the truth in his homeland has become an act of treason.

He said that by practically labelling Governor Enembe a supporter of the Free West Papua Movement, Colonel Aidi had added to the sense of threat over this leading elected official who is already being investigated by Indonesian anti-corrution investigators.

“This is a very, very harsh statement by the military spokesperson in Papua against the governor of Papua province who has every right to express his concerns and worries about the welfare of the people under his care,” Kogoya said.

“He never, ever expressed publicly that he supports the independence of Papua.”

Following the Liberation Army’s massacre of road construction workers, the chairman of the Papua People’s Assembly, Timotius Murib, said he and his colleagues condemned the violence. He added that security approaches rarely helped in Papua.

Rights violations
“This does not solve the problem in Papua, but instead creates human rights violations and trauma for indigenous Papuans,” Munib said.

Indonesian police and military posts are common in every town and most villages throughout Papua. Internal security is ostensibly the domain of the police, except when it involves armed insurgencies, which is the responsibility of the military.

The military is also mandated to play a role in counter-terrorism and in protecting strategic assets. Violent attacks by the Liberation Army against civilians, police or army personnel only perpetuate the continuing involvement of Indonesia’s military in Papua.

“There are many accusations and counter-accusations as to who is responsible for specific instances of violence. But I think the military approach to securing and stabilising the territory evidently hasn’t worked not in terms of improving the human rights situation in the region,” Prove said.

Armed conflict between the Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces is mainly confined to the Highlands region. The Papuan guerillas are outnumbered and outgunned by Indonesia’s military forces, yet are also difficult to totally defeat, as they easily move in and out of the bush in their rugged home terrain.

But as the Papuan guerilla fighters retreat to the mountainous bush, sometimes Papuan villagers considered Liberation Army supporters end up being targetted by the Indonesian security forces.

The presence of Indonesia’s military, special forces, police, and intelligence agents throughout Papua have added to a climate of fear for Papuans.

Security approach
According to Wangge, the Indonesian government appears to favour the security approach as the most effective way of containing Papuan resistance, even though it does not win hearts and minds of Papuans.

He said that Jakarta had long since identified core problems in Papua – related to historical grievances, politics, human rights abuses and economic development. But apart from its promotion of economic development through its major infrastructure drive, Wangge said the government had not openly addressed these core problems in a wholehearted way that involved Papuan participation.

While it was difficult to pinpoint why the problems hadn’t been confronted Wangge said the military was still a powerful political entity within the Indonesian republic.

“If human rights or historical problems will be discussed both by central and local governments, the military will face some legal consequences for this one,” he said.

Wangge, who has been involved with efforts to build temporary schools for the children displaced in Wamena, was doubtful whether President Joko Widodo’s economic development approach was a lasting solution either for Papuans’ grievances.

“To some point, yes, it can benefit some Papuans,” he said, “but the benefits of the economic approach, it’s only for outsiders, non-Papuans, immigrants – that’s how many Papuans see it.”

Murib said that he and other representatives of indigenous Papuans “have never been involved in discussing the Trans-Papua road project”.

Papuans eliminated
“Papuans are eliminated from their own land, lose their rights as indigenous people and face depopulation problems. Papuans want life, not roads and companies.”

He said if the central government respected Papua’s Autonomy Law, and indigenous Papuans, it should “sit down to talk with us for all forms of policy in Papua”.

Meanwhile, Colonel Aidi has confirmed an extra 600 highly skilled troops from combat units have been deployed to Nduga region to secure conditions for construction of the Trans Papua road to proceed.

Since December, dozens of people have died in escalating clashes in Nduga. The Liberation Army has indicated it was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but Colonel Aidi suggested this would be not be possible.

“The aim of Indonesia’s military is to preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. If the purpose of the “armed criminal group” is to be independent from Indonesia, surely the dialogue or negotiation will never be realised.”

Armed conflict continues in Papua, intractable as ever.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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via IFTTT March 14, 2019 at 12:46AM

Indonesian soldiers clash with West Papua freedom fighters amid tensions over Papua highway

Three Indonesian soldiers killed

By Daniel Mwambonu 2 days ago

Indonesian soldiers clash with West Papua freedom fighters amid tensions over Papua highway:Three Indonesian soldiers killed.

Three Indonesian soldiers were killed in a clash with dozens of West Papua Liberation Army in the eastern province of Papua, the military said late on Thursday, the latest deaths amid high tensions and violence in the restive region.

Papua, a former Dutch colony and the western part of New Guinea island, was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

A long-running Liberation movement in the region has seen an increase in struggles for self determination in recent months.

A team of 25 soldiers was ambushed by up to 70 West Papua Liberation forces carrying military-standard weapons and traditional weapons, the Indonesian army said in a statement.

“The team fought back until they were able to drive the group back into the forest. Three soldiers died in the attack,” the army said.

Two military helicopters dispatched to evacuate the soldiers also came under fire, the army said.

A spokesman for the West Papua Liberation Army, said at least five soldiers had been killed and Indonesian forces had set fire to several houses in the Nduga area. Sebby Sambom did not say how many casualties the group suffered.

Indonesia has deployed hundreds of soldiers to build a major highway connecting the remotest parts of the resource-rich province, after 16 construction workers were killed by separatists late last year.

Since then, fighting between freedom fighters and the Indonesian military has caused hundreds of villagers to flee the Nduga area in western New Guinea island.

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via IFTTT March 13, 2019 at 12:39AM

Military operations in Papua problematic

West Papuan elected leaders who criticise Indonesian military operations in Papua province risk prosecution, according to Indonesian security officials.

However humanitarian concern is growing for villagers displaced by conflict between the military and the West Papua Liberation Army in the Highlands .
Johnny Blades reports.


Indonesian military and police operations intensified in the Highlands after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers in Nduga regency three months ago.

As military operations ramped up, thousands of villagers fled to the bush or neighbouring regencies such as Jayawijaya.

The impact of this displacement was seen by Peter Prove, a member of a delegation from the World Council of Churches which was last month permitted to visit Papua.

“And in particular in Wamena we met with a group of more than 400 children and adolescents who were displaced, and who were being provided with refuge in the compound of the Roman Catholic Church there. And we heard very alarming stories about the circumstances under which they had fled from their territory, including indications of a very strong-armed military response.”

The concerned governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, recently called for Indonesia’s president to withdraw troops to allow villagers to return home and access basic needs.

His call was echoed by local parliamentarians, customary leaders, church and civil society organisations who continue to press for a de-escalation of military operations in the region.

However Indonesia’s military spokesman in Papua, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, warned that the governor had violated state law and should be prosecuted. His words are translated:

“A governor is an extension of the state in the region and is obliged to defend the sovereignty of the republic of Indonesia. A Governor must support all national strategic programs. But on the contrary the Governor through his statement actually inhibited the national development process.” 

A West Papuan anthropologist based in Australia, Yamin Kogoya, worries that telling the truth in his homeland has become an act of treason. 

He says by practically labelling Governor Enembe a supporter of the Free West Papua Movement, Colonel Aidi has added to the sense of threat over this leading elected official. who is already being investigated by Indonesian anti-corruption investigators

“This is a very, very harsh statement by the military spokesperson in Papua against the governor of Papua province who has every right to express his concerns and worries about the welfare of the people under his care. He never ever expressed publicly that he support the independence of Papua.” 

Indonesian police and military posts are common in every town and most villages throughout Papua.

From his observations in the region, Peter Prove says the increasing militarisation and security approach in Papua has only exacerbated the problems there.

“There are many accusations and counter-accusations as to who is responsible for specific instances of violence. But I think the military approach to securing and stabilising the territory evidently hasn’t worked not in terms of improving the human rights situation in the region.” 

Meanwhile Colonel Aidi has confirmed an extra 600 military personnel have been deployed to Nduga region to secure the peace for construction of the Trans Papua road to proceed.

But Papuan parliament member Laurens Kadepa has expressed fear that this will only add to the trauma of local communities.

This is Johnny Blades.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 12, 2019 at 02:54AM

Bougainville and PNG commit to collaborate on vote

The Bougainville President, John Momis, says he and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, have reached agreement on how they can work together on the referendum process.

In October, Bougainville is to hold a vote on whether to remain an autonomous region within PNG or become fully independent.

A meeting of the two leaders earlier this month, sitting as the Joint Supervisory Body, or JSB, agreed on funding and to allow more time to prepare. 

They also decided to push the date of the vote back from June to October.

Mr Momis told Don Wiseman he is now hopeful both governments can meet the requirements of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and work together.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 12, 2019 at 02:48AM

Indonesian military dismisses negotiation with Papuan guerillas

Indonesia’s military says negotiation with the West Papua Liberation Army can only take place if both sides have the same goal.

Humanitarian concern is growing for villagers displaced by armed conflict in the Highlands between the Liberation Army and Indonesia’s military.

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

The Liberation Army had indicated it was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

But Indonesia’s military spokesman, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, said this would be difficult.

“The aim of Indonesia’s Military is to preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. If the purpose of the “armed criminal group” is to be independent from Indonesia, surely the dialogue or negotiation will never be realised.”

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 09, 2019 at 09:19AM

West Papua: up to 15 dead as rebels and Indonesian soldiers clash

Deaths reported on both sides in firefight during work on trans-Papua highway 

As many as 15 people are believed to have been killed in a firefight between Indonesian soldiers and Papuan independence fighters, adding to more than two dozen deaths in the simmering conflict since November.

Indonesia’s military said three of its soldiers, and seven to 10 independence fighters, died on Thursday when a force of 50 to 70 rebels carrying firearms as well as spears and arrows attacked a group of 25 soldiers in a battle lasting several hours.

Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the West Papua National Liberation Army, said five soldiers were killed and admitted no deaths for the Papuans. Both sides claimed to have captured weapons.

Muhammad Aidi, the military spokesman for Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region, said the soldiers had arrived in the area to guard work on the trans Papua highway and the attack was unprovoked. According to Sambom, the soldiers had burned traditional dwellings and interrogated villagers.

Two helicopters sent to take the bodies of the three killed soldiers to the mining town of Timika were shot at but eventually landed after Indonesian forces returned fire, Aidi said.

The highlands district was the location of a December attack by Papuan fighters on workers at a construction site for the trans Papua highway that killed 19. Large numbers of people have been displaced by military and police security operations since the attack.

At least 31 people have died since early November in an apparent escalation of attacks by the West Papua National Liberation Army. The figure doesn’t include unconfirmed civilian deaths that Papuan activists say resulted from security operations.

An insurgency has simmered in Papua, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea, since the early 1960s when Indonesia annexed the Dutch-controlled territory.

Discrimination against indigenous Papuans and abuses by Indonesian police and military have drawn renewed attention globally as Indonesia campaigns for membership in the UN’s human rights watchdog.

The exiled leader of the Papuan independence movement, Benny Wenda, in January presented a 1.8m-signature petition calling for self-determination to the UN human rights chief in Geneva.


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via IFTTT March 08, 2019 at 02:05PM

UK petition calls for West Papua chemical weapons investigation

West Papuan independence campaigners are supporting a British parliamentary petition calling for investigations into Indonesia’s alleged chemical weapon use in Papua.

Labour MP Alex Sobel last month filed a motion demanding the British government and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigate.

Since then, 22 other MPs have added their names to the petition, which claims there is “sufficient documentary evidence” of chemical weapon use by Indonesia’s military in Papua.

The motion said there was witness testimony and journalistic reporting showing Indonesia’s military has used “burn-causing chemicals, potentially including white phosphorous”.

Indonesia’s military and government have described the claims as baseless.

The motion also noted increased Indonesian military and police activity in Papua’s Nduga regency, where the security forces are pursuing members of the West Papua Liberation Army.

The Free West Papua Campaign said supporters in the UK can contact their local MP to register support for the motion.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 07, 2019 at 10:56PM

Department of Climate Change sets foundation

A workshop underway in Port Vila aims to develop the vision, mission and objectives to guide the new Department of Climate Change.

Organised by the Department of Climate Change, the three-day workshop which ends tomorrow (Friday) brought stakeholders in both government and private sector together to discuss what the department exist to achieve and how it will fulfill its purpose.

It is the first time that the Department of Climate Change is facilitating a workshop, following the appointment of its new director.

Director Mike Sam Waiwai said the workshop will set the foundation for the young department.

The establishment of a separate Department of Climate Change under the Ministry of Climate Change was approved by the Council of Ministers (COM).

”The government recognizes that climate change is the most complex and urgent issue affecting us today,” Director Waiwai said.

”Vanuatu like any other small developing countries contribute less to global warming but is suffering enormously.

”Climate change is putting Ni-vans and their livelihoods at risk.

”The new department will serve the needs of communities affected by climate change.

”It will also support the government to achieve its national and international climate change commitments.”

Director Waiwai said one of the first activity the department plans to do is educate people, mostly in the rural areas about climate change. He believes they lack knowledge on the issue.

According to Director Waiwai, the new Department of Climate Change staff are individuals who specialise in climate change issues.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

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via IFTTT March 07, 2019 at 10:49PM

UN welcomes setting of Bougainville referendum date

The United Nations in Papua New Guinea has congratulated the governments of PNG and Bougainville for confirming a date for the independence referendum.

In a statement the UN said the referendum will give the people of Bougainville the opportunity to express their opinion on the future political status of the autonomous Region of Bougainville, as guaranteed in the 2001 Peace Agreement.

A meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body last week set the poll to start from 12th October this year.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, said the decision highlighted again the strong commitment of the two governments to work together to continue to support peace in Bougainville.

He has also welcomed the supervisory body engaging with the Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce.

The UN said it will continue to partner with both governments, recognising that the referendum is a very important step in the process, to be followed by a consultation phase between the two governments before the National Parliament exercises its final decision-making authority.

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via IFTTT March 07, 2019 at 06:12PM

Bougainville referendum vote delay not a surprise – MP

Bougainville South MP Tim Masiu says a four month delay to the Bougainville referendum was not unexpected.

[audio_playhttps:// Listen to more on Dateline Pacific

Bougainville is due to hold a vote on whether to become fully independent of Papua New Guinea.

It was tentatively set for June 15th this year but has now been moved, with voting to start on 12 October.

Mr Masiu, who is also PNG’s deputy opposition leader, was at Friday’s Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Port Moresby when the decision was made.

He said the chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, told the meeting the update on the common roll was not going well.

“And there are still a lot of Bougainvilleans living outside of Bougainville and also in Bougainville who had not been registered. So in order for a majority of people to vote they needed to update the common roll. So that was one of the sticking issues.”

Tim Masiu said other factors include hold-ups in efforts to ensure the region is free of weapons, as well as issues with funding from the national government.

Meanwhile, the Post Courier reports that PNG’s government has committed to pay about 8.7 million US dollars to help Bougainville prepare for its independence referendum.

Friday’s meeting was told by Mr Ahern, that it needed 15.7 million US dollars to prepare for the vote.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that the government has now sent $US2.9 million with the same amount due to released next week and a further instalment later this year.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 04, 2019 at 06:13PM

Bougainville independence referendum postponed

A meeting today in Port Moresby between the Papua New Guinea national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government resolved to defer the referendum to 12 October.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission had requested the referendum be postponed due to a lack of funding for preparations for the plebiscite and incomplete voter registration.

Under the terms of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, the referendum must be held by June 2020.

Source: RadioNZ

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via IFTTT March 01, 2019 at 06:14PM

Google Alert - Melanesia

Melanesia Weekly update ⋅ March 6, 2019 NEWS Meet The Dark-Skinned Melanesian Tribe With Natural Blond Hair Guardian (blog) Melanesia Island is located in the Solomon Islands, the sub-region of Oceania. Close to them are regions such as Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, ... Flag as irrelevant See more results | Edit this alert You have received this email because you have subscribed to Google Alerts. Unsubscribe | View all your alerts Receive this alert as RSS feed Send Feedback

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Dangerous highway: Soldiers to finish Papua road after workers killed

JAKARTA: Six hundred Indonesian soldiers will finish building a highway in the province of Papua, a military spokesman said on Tuesday (Mar 5), after 16 construction workers were killed by separatists in the restive area last year.

The soldiers working on the Trans-Papua highway and 21 bridges will continue security operations in the area home to a simmering separatist conflict since Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969.

“They will build the road because conditions in the field are difficult and there are disruptions from armed criminal groups,” military spokesman Brigadier General Sisriadi said via text message.

Construction on parts of the 4,300km highway has been stalled for months after the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 workers and a soldier in Nduga district in December.

Fighting between rebels and the Indonesian military caused hundreds of villagers to flee the resource-rich area in western New Guinea island.

President Joko Widodo, who faces an election in April, vowed to finish the highway project as part of his promise to develop Papua, Indonesia’s poorest region.Advertisement

But he faces criticism from rights activists for not doing enough to investigate accusations of rights abuses by security forces there.

United Nations rights experts last month urged Indonesia to investigate accusations of violence by police and military in Papua after a video showed officers using a live snake to intimidate a suspect during questioning.Source: Reuters/jt

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via IFTTT March 07, 2019 at 12:04AM

Indonesia deploys 600 soldiers to Papua for road project

Indonesia has deployed 600 military personnel to Papua, to safeguard the construction of a controversial road project.

The security build-up around the project, which was promised in January, threatens to deepen escalating violence in the Highlands regions.

The Antara state news agency reported that the soldiers, which include 150 combat engineers, will be supervising work on the 4,600-kilometre Trans-Papua Highway.

In December, at least 17 Indonesian construction workers working on the project were massacred by the West Papua Liberation Army.

Before their deployment, the Chief of the Hasanuddin Regional Military Command XIV, Major General Surawahadi, addressed the soldiers in the city of Makassar.

“You have heavy tasks and responsibilities to safeguard the construction of the Trans Papua road, including dealing with security disturbance from the armed separatist group,” he said.

Source: RadioNZ

from WordPress
via IFTTT March 05, 2019 at 05:31PM