Indonesia’s UN story on Papua is no longer a single truth

Indonesia’s UN story on Papua is no longer a single truth

Jubi | News Portal Tanah Papua No. 1,Saturday, 13 Mei 2017 — 13:06 By Cypri Dale

The Indonesian delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded to the review of UN member states – Doc. Author

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Indonesia at the UN Human Rights Forum has just been completed. The Indonesian government represented by a large delegation led by two ministers presented Indonesia’s human rights accountability for the last 5 years (since UPR 2012) with diplomatic confidence. The upholding of human rights in Papua has become a central issue, in response to the increasing intensive concerns and concerns of the international community over the situation in the region. A number of major allies are asking crucial questions and statements. While the seven Pacific States are firm against Indonesia on the issue of Papua it chooses not to attend. How is the development of the Papuan problem in the international arena?

Litany of Success

Especially on Papua, there are at least four matters of accountability of the Government of Indonesia in the UPR forum.

First, that the government is accelerating development as a solution to various problems in Papua. It was reported that “the President regularly visits these two provinces to check the progress of infrastructure development” and “directly dialogue with Papuans”.

Second, the Government of Indonesia “has a very strong commitment to resolve issues of injustice and human rights violations. A team under the leadership of Menkopolhukam has been formed. Promised also that the case of Paniai, Wamena, and Wasior will soon be processed in the Supreme Court.

Third, that “the Government has also lifted restrictions on foreign journalists to visit Papua.” Papua is already open to the international community.

Fourth, that Papua Special Autonomy has been implemented to improve effective local governance and development, and for that reason Papua has received substantial funding.

Diplomatic Response

Interestingly, in response to the report of Indonesia, some countries are simply asking simple questions and statements; Namely the fact of its implementation concretely.

There are at least nine countries that specifically highlight the concrete situation of human rights enforcement in Papua. These countries are Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Belgium, Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zeland and Mexico (other countries only mention the substance of the problem, without specifically mentioning Papua) .Otherwise they question the steps and progress of the case resolution conket Paniai, Wasior, and Wamena which has been repeatedly promised by the Government. They also highlighted violence against local journalists and human rights defenders, as well as a concrete form of abolishing the ban on foreign journalists in Papua. The United States, Australia, Austria and New Zealand have specifically highlighted cases of arrests of activists in peaceful action as well as restrictions on freedom of expression and expression.

In addition to the concrete questions of implementation, a number of States also submit recommendations that imply that they do not actually believe in the litany of success the Government has delivered. Some countries even require further investigation of the concrete conditions of the human rights situation in Papua, recommending the sending of the Special Rapporteur to Papua, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Persons.

These countries are actually close Indonesian allies who are usually soft (for their own interests with the Indonesians). The fact that despite their close allies remains explicitly highlighting the issue of Papua in the UPR shows an indication of an increasing concern on the unfavorable situation in Papua.

Meanwhile, Pacific countries that have been hard on Indonesia about Papua just choose not to attend the UPR Indonesia in the Human Rights Council. In the diplomatic world, not being present, let alone absent collectively, is a strict diplomatic statement. These seven countries in the United Nations General Assembly in New York last year expressed their deep concern over the situation in Papua. They also affirmed the need to raise the issue of the right to self-determination as a long-term solution for Papua. In that context, their absence in the UPR forum has at least two meanings. Firstly, they do not believe in Indonesian reports that tend to submit lip-service reports to cover reality. Second, they want to push the self-determination solution as the Papuans themselves want.

Interestingly, while absent at the UPR forum at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, these Pacific countries made special diplomatic moves on Papua at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribean and Pacific (ACP) Countries of Brussels on the same day. In addition to condemning human rights abuses, they call on ACP member States to encourage long-term resolutions, including to support the right of political self-determination.

Development of a colonial character

Acceleration of Development, especially infrastructure development, became a major defense of Indonesia in Papua in the UPR forum. This development story is repeated in UN forums whenever Papuan issues are discussed. President Joko Widodo himself asserted that what he developed in Papua was “development politics, welfare politics”

As part of the development policy, the President launched massive infrastructure development, such as trans-Papua highways, seaports, rivers, and air, and even railways. At the same time built new industrial areas based on mining, plantation, and logging. Currently there are at least 240 mining permits, 79 giant HPH permits, 85 permits for oil palm plantations in Tanah Papua. In addition to private corporations, Joko Widodo Government also encourages SOEs to invest. The result is a combination of corporate capitalism and state capitalism for large-scale industrial exploration and exploitation across Papua, from coast to wilderness and mountains. To support this, the government is also strengthening the security infrastructure, such as the military base plan in Biak, Brimob headquarters in Wamena, as well as new military and police posts along the trans-Papua road under construction.

The question is whether ‘development politics’ by focusing on infrastructure and industrialization like this is a solution or will it only exacerbate issues of human rights and social justice in Papua? Is not that kind of development destroying Papua during the New Order, which makes Papuans feel colonized? And what kind of development is that wanted by the people of Papua?

Because of the focus on infrastructure projects and the exploitation of such natural resources, in Papua Jokowi was given the title of “Joko Daendels”. Forced infrastructure projects are not seen as solutions for Papuans, but serve the need for exploitation and conquest.

In Geneva, shortly after the Indonesian UPR on Papua, the Papuan civil society coalition issued a statement that strongly criticized the Indonesian economic approach in Papua. The coalition writes, “From the Government’s response, it appears that West Papua is seen in the context of economic development, but does not substantially solve the Papuan problem in terms of the dignity and human rights of indigenous Papuans.”

Filep Karma, a peaceful movement figure who was present at the UPR monitor in Geneva called the Indonesian report full of lies. Related to the development of the Jakarta version, Filep delivered an interesting metaphor. The people of Papua actually want to drink coffee. But Indonesia forces Papuans to drink coca-cola, arguing that in coca-cola contained coffee. This analogy is not only related to the political aspirations of self-determination, but also in development.

Perhaps it is this coffee and coca-cola problem that Indonesia wants to hide when restricting access to foreign journalists to Papua, arresting activists, and perpetrating violence against journalists and local media in Papua. However, despite being silenced in many ways, Papuans’ voices have started to be heard in Indonesia, the Pacific and around the world.

In international forums, now and in the future, the story of the Government of Indonesia is no longer a single truth.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland; Author-editing book Paradox Papua (2011) and Papua Storytelling (2015)

Note: the long version of this article is published by The authors are grateful to Jubi and Indoprogress.

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