Yamin Kogoya: West Papua’s colonial fate – UN ‘New York Agreement’
By APR editor – August 15, 2022
COMMENTARY:By Yamin Kogoya
West Papua … The only appropriate and adequate justice left for Papuans is to be given back their sovereignty. Image: Free West Papua/Twitter
Sixty years ago today — on 15 August 1962 — the fate of a newly born nation-state West Papua was stolen by men in New York. The infamous event is known as “The New Agreement”, a deal between the Netherlands and Indonesia over West Papua’s sovereignty.
A different fate had been intended for the people of West Papua in early 1961 when they elected their national Council from whom the Dutch were asking guidance for the transfer of administration back to Papuan hands.
Shockingly, the threat of colonialism came from America several months later when a journalist advocating liberty denounced a secret Washington proposal to betray America’s Pacific War ally Papua to an Asian colonial power.
The “special” nature of the US proposal had the opposite intent than that of the international law. The International Trusteeship System, Chapter XII of the United Nations Charter is meant protect a people’s right of independence and have the UN prepare annual reports about their welfare and progress towards independence for each territory the United Nations has become responsible for, including those invaded and subjugated by UN troops.
West Papua is both.
Instead of protection and annual reports, the United Nations by omission of duty is enabling Indonesian impunity for military campaigns of terror and administrative suspension of all human rights.
West Papuans have suffered hundreds of thousands of extrajudicial deaths, disappearances and looting of many hundreds of billions of dollars throughout the UN appointed administration by Indonesia.
Weekly stories of horror hidden from international news media by an ongoing Indonesian declaration that Papua is a quarantine zone requiring special permission for NGOs and journalists to enter.The Council’s response was to present to the Dutch a flag and manifesto of independence asking all the peoples of West Papua to unite as one people under their new Morning Star flag.
On 1 December 1961, the Dutch raised the Morning Star flag, and for more than 60 years the people have united as one raising their Morning Star flag.
But declassified American records reveal horrific deceptions. A group inside the White House had begun secret negotiations with the Republic of Indonesia around a proposal for an illegal use of the International Trusteeship System, or to quote the US, “a special United Nations trusteeship of West New Guinea” that irrespective of Papua’s objections would then ask Indonesia to assume control.
Fiscal and geopolitical deceptions Every principle written into the UN’s charter, the Rules of Procedure of the Trusteeship Council, and even Indonesia’s own New York Agreement have been violated by the ongoing Indonesian conduct, international mining and United Nations omission of lawful conduct.
These events proceeded against the backdrop of a global movement calling for decolonialisation that rippled across Asia, Africa and the Pacific, with the West and the Communist bloc supporting or opposing one another to gain influence in these movements.
The newly independent nation of Indonesia, which had been under Dutch rule for more than 300 years, declared independence on 17 August 1945. Sukarno was the man of this era, leading the outburst of a long-awaited human desire for freedom and equality.
In the same era, wars broke out in Korea and Vietnam; the world endured the Cuban missile crisis as forces of the West and the Communist bloc continued to clash and reshape the destiny of these new nation-states.
Leading up to the final recognition of their new republic in December 1949, Indonesians experienced another brutal, protracted war with the Dutch. The Netherlands side wanted to reclaim their past colonial glory, and the Indonesian side wanted to removed Dutch occupation and authority from their nation.
Indonesia’s founding fathers, Sukarno and Suharto, were significant men of their era, with ambitions to match — ambitions that led to the massacre of millions of alleged Indonesian Chinese communists in the mid-1960s; the same ambition that placed the Papuan people on the path they are on now, carved by blood, tears, trauma, war, killing, rape, exploitation, betrayal, and being cheated at every turn by the world’s highest institutions.
Many nations around the world had to face difficult choices, with emerging leaders of all types avoiding the cause of their own imagined nation-state. This was a most turbulent era of development and globalisation.
Arguably, most conflicts around the world today stem from unresolved grievances brought about by this turbulence and divisive historical events.
West Papua’s extended conflicts for the last 60 years are a direct result of being mishandled by Western forces who sought to take Papua’s independence for themselves.
As of today, Indonesians (and those unaware of West Papua’s legal status under international law) think that this is a domestic issue, a narrative which Jakarta elites insist on propagandising to the world.
The truth is that West Papua remains an unresolved issue with international implications. More specifically, the UN still has the responsibility to correct their sixty-year-old mistake.
The UN breached its own charter At least in principle, all 111 articles of the UN Charter are aimed at promoting peace, dignity, and equality. One of the key elements of the charter (in relation to decolonisation) is its declaration that colonial territories would be considered non-self-governing territories. The United Nations’ responsibility was to provide a “full measure of self-government” to those nations colonised by foreign powers. West Papua’s story as a new nation began within these international frameworks.
West Papua was already listed under the UN’s decolonisation system as a non-self-governing territory before 1962 and the Dutch were preparing Papuans for full independence in accordance with the UN charter guidelines. The public has been deceived by trivialising this agreement and downplaying it as simply two powers — Netherlands and Indonesia — fighting over West Papuan territory.
The UN, as a caretaker of this trust, had a responsibility to provide a measure for Papuans to achieve independence. The UN instead handed (abandoned) this trust to Indonesia, who then abused that international trust by invading West Papua in May 1963. This scandalous historical error has brought unprecedented cataclysm to Papuans to date.
The Indonesian perspective Most Indonesians have been fooled by their government to think that West Papua’s fate was decided during a referendum, known as “Pepera” or “Act of Free Choice” in 1969, which Papuans now refer to as the “Act of No Choice”. Indonesians assume that Indonesian occupancy is good for West Papua, but this is not true: they are unaware that Indonesia is illegally occupying West Papua and their government is in breach of many international laws.
It seems that the Western powers have no issue turning a blind eye when one of their endorsed global players are breaking their laws.
During the period of July to September 1969, the Act of Free Choice was carried out by the Indonesian government. The UN was there but did not act or speak against it. This referendum was one of the items stipulated in the New York Agreement seven years earlier.
About 2025 Papuan elders among the one million Papuans who were handpicked at gunpoint and forced to say “yes” to remain with Indonesia. The UN acted as a bystander, unwilling to interfere with the tyranny taking place before them.
What we seem to forget is the fact that before the referendum in 1969, Indonesia had already launched a large-scale martial and administrative operation throughout West Papua, instilling fear and setting the stage for the rubber stamp referendum to proceed.
What happened in 1969 was a tragedy and a farce of human autonomy. The UN and international community betrayed West Papua on the world’s stage.
The New York Agreement Andrew Johnson and Julian King, Australian researchers who specialised in this case, have argued that West Papua is still a non-self-governing territory, and that Indonesia has no legal or moral right to claim sovereignty over West Papua. These researchers insist that West Papua is still a non-self-governing territory, and Indonesia is only there temporarily as an administrator — they have no legal basis to introduce any law or policy towards West Papua.
EITHER AS A NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORY OR A TRUST TERRITORY, THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF WEST PAPUA HAVE BEEN DENIED WITH EVERY UN MEMBER RESPONSIBLE AND LEGALLY BOUND TO UPHOLD THE CHARTER IN ORDER TO CORRECT THIS BREACH OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.
No Papuan was invited or included during the agreement. This act itself speaks volumes – the complete denial of Papuans’ intrinsic worth as human beings to have any input into their fate is the basis for all kinds of violence, abuse, torture and mistreatment towards Papuan people.
This is the first violation and the most egregious because the Indonesian government’s draconian policies towards Papuans have consistently exhibited and reinforced this prejudiced behaviour over the past 60 years. Indonesians do not treat Papuans as equal human beings, therefore, what Papuans think, desire and feel doesn’t matter.
It was the right move for the UN to accept West Papua as a Trust Territory. However, the UN abandoned this sacred trust to Indonesia a year later, even though Indonesia’s behaviour prior to, during, and after this agreement had already been in breach of many UN charters and principles.
Additionally, the UN’s failure to uphold its principles and its silence on its disastrous mistake constitutes a serious breach of international law.
Secret documents Declassified documents from the United States, Australia, and the United Nations reveal irrefutable evidence of what went wrong behind the scenes prior to, during, and after the Netherlands-Indonesia agreement.
The idea of exploiting the UN Trusteeship system to transfer the sovereignty of West Papua to Indonesia was already proposed in 1959 by the US embassy in Jakarta.
OUR POSITION OF NEUTRALITY HAS SERVED ITS PURPOSE. IT IS TIME WE DEVELOPED A FORMULA TO REMOVE THIS MAJOR IRRITANT TO INDONESIAN RELATIONS WITH THE WEST.
In the US minds, the formula was exploiting the UN’s mechanisms to give West Papua sovereignty to Indonesia.
A year later on 3 March 1961, the US embassy wrote:
UNLESS NEW GUINEA QUESTION CAN BE PROMPTLY REMOVED AS SOURCE OF SOVIET STRENGTH AND US WEAKNESS, AS INCIPIENT CAUSE OF WAR AND AS PLATFORM FOR VARIETY OF UNHEALTHFUL ISMS WITHIN INDONESIA, OUR BEST EFFORTS IN ANY OTHER DIRECTION WILL FAIL TO ACHIEVE OUR OBJECTIVES HERE.
According to King and Johnson, the 1962 New York Agreement story has been a deception for 60 years; the agreement was not drafted after the Indonesian invasion in 1962. The agreement was proposed by an American lawyer in May 1959, modified in 1960, proposed to Indonesia in March 1961, and executed in 1962.
West Papua is not sold or traded under the Agreement. It is an agreement between UN members to share the responsibility for the welfare of West Papuan people (trusteeship), and it asks the UN to be the “administrator” (occupying force) in 1962. When the United Nations backed the agreement, Pakistani troops were appointed to administer West Papua in 1962, followed by Indonesian troops in 1963.
As it turns out, armies of secret dealers in UN uniforms were behind the scenes setting agendas, proposing solutions, and implementing them without consequences.
It appears then that the New York Agreement itself, the terms of reference upon which the UN General Assembly voted on the agreement, the UN’s role from 1962 to 1963, the final Act of Free Choice in 1969, and the UN General Assembly vote on the Act of Free Choice’s outcome were all facades — a treacherous performance fit for a tragic drama.
A carefully orchestrated plan was devised to sacrifice West Papua to Indonesia by manipulating the UN’s system by the United States — the leader of the free democratic world and the tyrant flexing its vast military power.
The fight to reclaim stolen sovereignty lives on Papua played an important role in reshaping geopolitical arrangements between the West and the communist bloc, and it will continue to do so if this issue remains unresolved.
The future in which West Papua will play a critical role has arrived. The US and its allies will have to face China or any other power or ideological forces that are challenging the liberal world order.
The responses, criticisms, or reactions arising from nations around the world — whether it be on the issues of covid-19, the Ukraine war, Taiwan, Solomon Islands-China security deals, or any other global issue — suggest that the grand narrative of the West as the saviour of mankind pushed by the US is being questioned and rejected.
Another new grand narrative is now emerging, and that is China.
West Papua at a crossroads What role will West Papua play in the current geopolitical tussle between the West and China is impossible to predict. This is something that must be dealt with by regional and international communities. West Papua’s issues do not dominate the headlines like Ukraine, Solomon Islands, or Taiwan, but they have their own significance in reshaping regional and global geopolitical arrangements.
The world of Papuans 60 years ago was different from now. More than half of a country abused, tortured and mistreated under Indonesia occupation is driving Papuans to become a minority in their own homeland. It has also strengthened their will to live and fight, and most Papuan youth are equipped with knowledge of the crimes against their people and what they can do to bring about justice and facilitate change.
Papuan resistance groups are increasingly becoming anti-Western, believing that the West is exploiting them while supplying arms to the Indonesian military. West Papuan students across Indonesia often wear revolutionary hats or t-shirts displaying socialist and communist revolutionary leaders such as Fidel Castro, Lenin, Che Guevara, and Ho-Chi Mi — they are well-versed in Leftist literatures.
The attitude of the general population in West Papua is also changing. Where previous generations have had a strong connection with the West due to shared experiences of World War II and influence by Western missionaries, young people are now questioning everything about the current state of affairs and asking why they are in this predicament.
The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) The armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), has also been changing its armed resistance strategy against Indonesian occupation.
They are shooting and killing anyone they consider a traitor or an invader, an attitude never seen before. It is dangerous because of not only their drastic approach, but the retaliation from heavily armed Indonesian security forces, who are aggressively shooting, burning, rampaging, and bombing anyone they consider to be OPM.
The TPNPB and Indonesian security forces have been at war for many years, and Jakarta has responded with heavy handed security measures by sending thousands of soldiers to hunt down the alleged perpetrators.
Recently, this has intensified, resulting in the displacement of thousands of Indigenous Papuans.
West Papua civilians could be subjected to an unprecedented mass atrocity if (or when) this situation escalates. According to a report published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, structural factors behind conflict in the region are showing signs of events that could trigger mass atrocities against civilians.
As reported by the UCA News, Gadjah Mada University researchers in Yogyakarta reported 348 violent acts in Papua between 2010 and March of this year. There were at least 464 deaths, including 320 civilians, and 1654 injuries, mostly civilians.
There are far more human tragedies unfolding in West Papua each day than what this figure represents. Unfortunately, Jakarta has blocked independent journalists from entering the region, making it difficult to verify these claims.
According to Wenda, the plight of West Papua to determine its own fate is clouded by the current geopolitical intrigues between the West and China. The status of West Papua is an unresolved international issue that has been swept under the carpet.
Even though the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting of heads of state and government held in Suva, Fiji from 11 to 14 July 2022 left West Papua out of the forum’s agenda, Wenda expressed optimism that West Papua would not be forgotten at the next meeting.
Indonesia and West Papua at a crossroads again Although West Papua has been buried deep within diplomacy for 60 years, it remains the most important issue affecting Jakarta’s relations with China and the US, as well as the way big powers deal with the independent Indigenous nation states across Oceania.
Above all, geopolitical war via chequebook diplomacy, media, or forming military and trade alliances and deals in the Pacific has become a real issue that we all must face.
The peaceful blue Pacific (Oceania), which Australia and New Zealand consider their “backyard” could become a new Middle East.
At the outset, West Papua issues might seem insignificant, irrelevant, or forgotten to the world, but in reality, it is one of the most significant issues influencing how Jakarta’s engage with the world and how the world engages with Jakarta.
Once again, Jakarta is caught in the middle between great powers, and they do not have the same leverage to play the same games as their ancestors did so many years ago. Jakarta elites need to recognise that they stole something so precious that belonged to Papuan people, and this must be returned to the rightful owner.
The only appropriate and adequate justice left for Papuans is to be given back their sovereignty. This is the only way for Papua to heal and have decades of violence against them reconciled.
Yamin Kogoya is a West Papuan academic who has a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University and who contributes to Asia Pacific Report. From the Lani tribe in the Papuan Highlands, he is currently living in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Victor Mambor, co-founder of tabloid Jubi, is often targeted for reporting on human rights issues
By Ryan Dagur Published: August 09, 2022 09:37 AM GMT
Victor Mambor, a native Papuan journalist has won Indonesia’s press freedom award. (Photo: Facebook)
A native Papuan journalist known for reporting on human rights issues has been awarded the press freedom award by an Indonesian journalists’ organization.
Victor Mambor, the co-founder of tabloid Jubi, the largest media in Papua, was presented the Udin Award on the 28th anniversary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) on Aug. 7.
The award is named after the pen name used by Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, a journalist of the Yogyakarta-based Bernas Daily who died after being attacked by two unknown assailants on August 16, 1996.
Mambor hoped the award would remind the public that “intimidation, criminal, physical, verbal and digital violence against journalists is still happening” and the media in Papua is fighting daily for its freedom to report.
“If we believe that the press is the fourth pillar of democracy, then we should encourage better press freedom in the land of Papua so that democracy will do better too,” he said.
AJI said that Mambor has consistently raised human rights violations in Papua through his journalism since 1996. He has written in Indonesian and international media, and also co-founded the tabloid Jubi.
“With Jubi, Victor brings more voices from Papua, in the midst of the dominance of information that is biased, unilateral and discriminates against Papua,” AJI said.
Due to his experience, Mambor is also known as a mentor for young journalists in the easternmost region.
In June, he conducted training in journalism for seminarians in the three dioceses of Papua as part of a program organized by the Franciscan Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
Yuli Langowuyo, executive director of the Franciscan Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said Mambor is very deserving of the award because of his dedication and consistency as a journalist.
She further lauded him for sparing his knowledge and time with the grassroots community during the training of seminarians.
“Even though his work as a journalist, especially in Papua, brings danger to himself and his family, we do not see him resigning from his journalism work,” she told UCA News.
Bambang Muryanto, one of the award’s jury said, it is not easy for a journalist like Mambor to maintain professionalism and independence in conflict-torn Papua.
“His own safety and that of his family is at stake. The remoteness of his location also poses several challenges in presenting a comprehensive picture,” he said.
Mambor has been intimidated on several occasions for his reporting.
The UN Human Rights Council in September 2021 called him a humanitarian and a rights activist who experienced frequent acts of violence and intimidation.
“Threats are certainly like daily food for him and other journalists in armed conflict areas,” Muryanto said.
Papua has seen conflict since becoming a part of Indonesia in 1969 with continued resistance by armed pro-independence groups.
The province is ranked 33 among the country’s 34 provinces as per the Press Freedom Index released by Indonesia’s Press Council in January.
The Indonesian government restricts foreign journalists from visiting the region.
Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta — A proposal by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan that active TNI (Indonesian military) officers be allowed to occupy positions in state ministries and institutions is seen as an effort to revive the TNI’s dual socio-political function (dwifungsi).
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Chairperson Muhammad Isnur believes that this effort is in line with government policy moves which have shown signs of reviving the New Order (Orba) regime of former president Suharto.
“Up until now, there have been many policies by the Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] regime which show signs of reviving the authoritarianism of the New Order regime”, said Isnur in a press release on Monday August 8.
Isnur gave several examples of the symptoms of the New Order under President Widodo’s administration. One of these is efforts to militarise civilians through the Reserve Component (Komcad) system for state civil servants (ASN).
This system is embodied in Minister for Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (Menpan-RB) Circular Number 27/2021 on the Role of ASN Officials as a Reserve Component in Supporting National Defense Efforts.
“On the other hand, resolving past human rights violations as well as resolving the Papua conflict which involves the TNI has yet to show any clarity”, said Isnur.
Isnur also asserted that Panjaitan’s proposal to revise Law Number
34/2004 on the TNI is in line with growing signs of authoritarianism.
According to Isnur, this discourse poses a serious threat to democracy as a fruit of reformasi — the political reform process that began in 1998.
“Not only that, LBP’s (Panjaitan’s) statement as a state official is a form or abuse of power and negates the constitution”, he asserted.
Earlier, Panjaitan proposed revision to the TNI law so active TNI officers could hold positions in government ministries and institutions.
“[Revising] the TNI Law is actually one of the things that has been needed since I was the Menko Polhukam [coordinating minister for security], that TNI [officers] be assigned to [government] ministries and institutions at the request of the institution and the president’s agreement”, said Panjaitan during Retired Army Generals Association
(PPAD) national meeting on Friday August 5.
According to Panjaitan, if this is realised, there will no longer be any senior Army officers filling unnecessary posts so the Army’s performance will be more efficient.
These senior Army officers, said the retired general, will also no longer need to compete over posts because they can follow a carrier outside of military institutions.
“Actually the TNI can could later play a simpler role, and not all TNI officers will have to become KSADs [Army chiefs of staff], they may well not be KSAD but be in a ministry”, said Panjaitan.
Panjaitan added that the stipulations which he is proposing are already valid for active Indonesian police officers who can be assigned to government ministries and institutions.
“So I hope that the TNI in this can along with the Kemhan [Defense Ministry] be able to insert an article such as this into revisions to the TNI Law”, he said.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Luhut Ingin Revisi UU TNI agar Perwira Aktif Jabat di Kementerian,
Graft agency’s poor image because it has been attacked from inside and
Kompas.com – August 9, 2022
Syakirun Niam, Jakarta — Gajah Mada University Faculty of Law Anti-Corruption Studies Centre (Pukat UGM) researcher Zaenur Rohman says that the corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) performance has progressively worsened because the institution has been attacked from inside and out.
According to Rohman, the decline in the KPK’s image was intentionally designed right from the start. One of the most important moments which influenced the KPK’s performance was when the revisions to the KPK Law were enacted in 2019.
Rohman conveyed this in response to a Kompas Research and Development
(Litbang) survey that found that the KPK’s image was the worse it has been in the last five years.
“The key moment was the revisions to the KPK Law through Law Number 19/2019″, said Rohman when contacted by Kompas.com on Tuesday August 9.
Rohman said that these revisions resulted in the KPK losing much of its strategic powers needed to eradicate corruption.
According to Rohman, these revisions were an effort to weaken the KPK from the outside. The revisions to the law were carried out by the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government.
Meanwhile the effort to weaken the KPK from inside was when several controversial figures were selected to become the KPK’s new commissioners, one of which was Firli Bahuri, who was subsequently chosen to become the head of the KPK.
“Right from the start Firli Bahuri had a record of ethical issues because he had committed ethical violations when he held the position of deputy of operations at the KPK, but instead he was in fact selected [as a commissioner] then become the chairperson”, said Rohman.
Continuously beset by problems
According to the UGM law expert, it is because of these two issues that the KPK has continued to be beset by problems which have caused the institution’s image in the eyes of the public to decline.
The revisions to the KPK Law also gave rise to an internal struggle within the KPK with Bahuri and the KPK leadership dismissing the commission’s best investigators and other KPK employees who were deemed to have failed a national perspectives test (tes wawasan kebangsaan, TWK).
“Those who formulated the revisions already knew what the KPK would be like in the future”, said Rohman.
“What was the consequence? The consequence was that the KPK’s performance in preventing and prosecution worsened. What’s the evidence?
There aren’t any strategic cases, the corruption perception index has also worsened”, he said.
A Litbang Kompas survey conducted in July revealed that the KPK’s image had declined to a figure of just 57 percent, the lowest in the last five years.
In addition to this, the survey revealed that the public’s trust that the KPK is lead by people who are free of corruption has begun to fade.
“As many as 62.6 percent of respondents no longer believe that the KPK is headed by people who are free from corruption”, said Litbang Kompas researcher Rangga Eka Sakti as quoted by the Kompas Daily newspaper on Monday August 8.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Citra Baik KPK Rendah, Pengamat: Diserang dari Luar dan Dalam”.]
The Indonesian Government has suddenly ceased funding for more than
400 West Papuan students studying abroad
The picture above is of West Papuan students in Adelaide, six of whom, have had their studies abruptly ended by this unexpected and undiscussed cut. It has left them in dire straights
We, the Australian West Papua Association- South Australia (AWPA SA) is assisting them to remain in Australia and complete their studies so that they don’t waste the many years they have put into their tertiary education.
The students were suddenly told that the funding had ceased and they had to return to West Papua. This has a huge impact on their education plus current and future earning potential.
We have so far helped them out with two weeks rent and working towards providing assistance with food and other necessities. They have also received some support through The Pacific Islands Council of SA Inc.
While they are busy negotiating with the Universities and exploring visa options there is an urgent need to help them with food and accommodation until they can find part time work and get up on their own feet.
Accommodation is the most urgent need.
We are hoping that there are supporters out there who might be able to have some temporary boarders or house guests in their homes until they find longer term housing.
Or phone mobile 0408345593 or home 08 83454480 to discuss the situation.
AWPA SA and the students have arranged to speak to the Universities and are urging them to allow the students to finish their studies so that they are not deported.
This advocacy seems to have had some success in NZ already. See separate story.
We are also seeking financial assistance. We will be setting up a Crowd funding website with a Pay button in the next day or two so that we can put in on social media nationwide and we ask all supporters to share this within their networks.
There were at least 400 Papuan students receiving scholarships abroad, comprising 25 students in Australia, 77 in New Zealand, five in Japan, 250 in the US and Canada, 38 in Russia, and five in Germany. Of this figure, Yan Wenda, President of Papua Students Association of Oceania said, there were 84 students in the US and 41 in New Zealand who had received an email from the Papua Provincial Government that they would soon be repatriated to Papua.
These students are part way, some very near, to completion of their studies and will lose all their years of effort if they can’t finish their courses.
Why has this happened
“It appears to me that the explanation for the cancellation of the sponsorship program is to limit West Papuan students from travelling around the world, disseminating information about the actual situation in WP and possibly garnering support. It is also not in the interests of Indonesia to have educated Papuans.”
Says Dr Jim Elmslie Convenor of the West Papua Project at University of Wollongong
He further writes
The problem has its genesis in a law enacted last year in Indonesia, Law no.21/2021 Papua’s Special Autonomy Law (OTSUS). This was a follow up from the original Special Autonomy Law of 2001 which was designed as a concession to Papuans who were (overwhelmingly) calling for independence for Indonesia. It was a watered down version of their demands but still gave the Papuans certain rights and control over some funds. From that emerged the foreign sponsorship education scheme that aimed to produce a group of educated Papuans. It also gave the Papuans a veto over the creation of more provinces in West Papua.
OTSUS mark 1 had a 20 year term which expired last year. The Indonesian government implemented OTSUS mark 2 with no input from Papuan leaders, in fact in the face of staunch opposition from all Papuan civil society groups and churches including the umbrella organization, the West Papuan Council of Churches (WPCC). This is because OTSUS mark 2 removed any control the Papuans had over their lives and future. Specifically it removed the Papuan veto on the creation of new provinces. The Melanesian area known locally and globally as ‘West Papua’ had already been split into two Indonesian provinces: West Papua and Papua provinces. The Indonesian government has now announced that they intend to create four (or possibly six) new provinces in West Papua. This will entail the establishment of six government administrations; six new military, intelligence and police commands; open up vast still relatively untouched areas to development in the form of logging and mining, and facilitate the influx of literally millions of Indonesian migrants. The WPCC has stated that this will lead to the disappearance of the Papuan people as a distinct population and are calling it genocide. There have been mass demonstrations by Papuans against OTSUS mark 2, which are continuing now and multiple people have been shot dead. There is also an international campaign against OTSUS mark two which is also playing out in the UN.
There has been a small scale civil war in WP since its forcible take over by Indonesia in 1962/3. Since 2018 this has dramatically increased as a new generation of West Papua fighters take up the struggle. Indonesia has responded by sending many thousands of soldiers to the region and there are now more than 60,000 internally displaced refugees as the Indonesian military indiscriminately bomb and attack villages in six regencies. Part of the war is to halt the flow of information and foreign journalists have long been banned from the region while local journalists operate in dangerous and highly restricted circumstances. The main flow of information is from the various church networks who have representatives on the ground.
Secretary AWPA SA
Below are links to several recent articles that background the situation facing WP students in New Zealand, Australia and also all around the world.
1) Papuan Activist’s Treason Trial Postponed Again After He is Hospitalized
Ronna Nirmala Jakarta 2021-08-31
The start of a Papuan independence activist’s trial on treason charges was postponed Tuesday for a third time after he fell ill and had to be hospitalized for pulmonary and gastric problems, lawyers said.
Victor Yeimo was admitted to the Jayapura General Hospital on Monday after the court and prosecutors agreed to postpone the trial pending his treatment, according to Adrianus Tomana, the public prosecutor.
“The suspension of detention was granted so that defendant Victor Yeimo can be treated in hospital,” Adrianus told BenarNews.
The activist will return to his detention cell from the hospital once he has recovered, Adrianus said.
Yeimo, the international spokesman for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a group seeking a referendum on independence for the Papua region, is facing charges of treason, desecration of state symbols, and weapons smuggling in connection with deadly anti-Jakarta riots that took place in 2019.
He could face two years to a maximum of life in prison, if found guilty.
The indefinite postponement marked the third time since last week that the trial’s opening was delayed. It was originally set to begin on Aug. 24 at a courthouse in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province.
Yeimo’s attorney, Gustav Kawer, criticized the prosecutor’s office, accusing it of delaying approval for his client’s medical treatment.
“Initially, the prosecutor had wanted the trial to proceed as planned and the defendant to remain in detention,” Kawer told BenarNews. “Maybe they wanted him to die in his detention cell.”
Last Thursday, the Jayapura District Court ordered Yeimo to receive medical treatment and adjourned the trial after receiving the results of his medical checks.
Yeimo had been held at a detention facility run by the crack Mobile Brigade police unit since his arrest on May 9.
Kawer said Yeimo had complained of chest pain and coughed up blood, with his chronic pulmonary conditions aggravated because of a poorly ventilated cell.
But police and the prosecutor’s office had initially denied requests for his client to be treated and transferred to another facility, Kawer alleged.
On Friday, police finally took Yeimo to a hospital for a series of health examinations, the defense lawyer said.
The doctor diagnosed Yeimo with acid reflux disease, chronic bronchitis and possible pulmonary tuberculosis, according to the results of the examinations, a copy of which was seen by BenarNews.
In 2019, more than 40 people were killed in Papua and neighboring West Papua province during anti-government demonstrations that turned violent. These were sparked by the perceived harsh and racist treatment of Papuan students by government security personnel in Java that August.
Police said Yeimo instigated the demonstrations, during which protestors demanded independence from Jakarta’s rule for the far-eastern Papua region, which makes up the western side of New Guinea Island.
Indonesian government forces have been accused of engaging in racist actions against indigenous people in mainly Melanesian Papua, where violence linked to a separatist insurgency has simmered for decades, and grown in recent months.
Last year, at least 13 Papuan activists and students were convicted for raising Morning Star flags – the symbol of the Papuan independence movement – during pro-referendum rallies in 2019 as part of nationwide protests against racism towards Papuans.
They were sentenced to between nine and 11 months in prison on treason charges.
‘Inhumane and cruel’
Wirya Adiwena, deputy director of the rights group Amnesty International in Indonesia, criticized the delay in treating Yeimo.
“We are grateful that he was finally hospitalized, but we also regret why the process was so slow. We’ve known how his health was and that he needed urgent treatment,” Wirya told BenarNews.
“Any attempt to prevent him from being treated constitutes inhumane and cruel treatment,” he said.
According to Wirya, Yeimo should not have been detained and prosecuted in the first place.
“His continued detention is in violation of international human rights laws and Indonesia’s constitution. It is critical that he be released as soon as possible,” Wirya said.
Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal denied that Yeimo was denied treatment.
“He has been given regular health checks, including the last one, the results of which were submitted to the court,” Kamal told BenarNews.
On Monday, hundreds of people rallied outside the Papuan prosecutor’s office to demand that Yeimo be immediately released, according to Jubi, a Papuan news website.
The crowd was disbanded by the police in the afternoon.
Yeimo’s current legal trouble is not his first brush with the law.
In 2009, he was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison for leading a rally demanding a referendum on self-determination for Papua.
In other news from the region, a Papuan man who was wounded on Aug. 16 when police fired shots at protestors in Papua’s Yahukimo regency who were demanding Yeimo’s release has died of his injuries, West Papua National Committee chairman Agus Kossay said.
Ferianus Asso, 29, died on Aug. 22 after being treated in a hospital for a bullet wound to his stomach, Kossay said.
“We are working with his family and lawyers to demand the chief of the police be held accountable and brought to justice,” Kossay told BenarNews.
Meanwhile, on the day that Asso died, rebels gunned two workers in the same regency who were involved in the construction of the Trans-Papua Highway.
The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), the military wing of the Free Papua Movement, claimed responsibility for the killings. They had killed other construction workers in the past, claiming they were government agents.
In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded Papua and annexed the region. Papua was formally incorporated into Indonesia after a U.N.-sponsored ballot called the Act of Free Choice in 1969.
Locals and activists said the vote was a sham because only about 1,000 people took part. However, the United Nations accepted the result, which essentially endorsed Jakarta’s rule.
The region is rich in natural resources and minerals, including copper and gold, but remains among Indonesia’s poorest and underdeveloped ones.
2) Ex-tapol Filep Karma shocked at prosecutor’s racist treatment of Victor Yeimo
Suara Papua – August 29, 2021
Former political prisoner and pro-independence activist Filep Karma – Undated (SP)
Editors note . Some supporters might be familiar with Filep Karma .
He was gaoled on charges of treason , promoting independence and other such crimes for 15 years . After 11 years he was released after an intense campaign was waged over the years .
He refused to be released until other political prisoners were released causing great embarrassment to the Government of Joko Widodo .
He has not stopped campaigning or been silenced .
Jayapura – Former Papuan political prisoner (tapol) Filep Karma has also joined with activists and Victor Yeimo’s family when along with Yeimo’s lawyer they went to the private residence of the Papua chief public prosecutor in the Doc 5 area of Jayapura city on the evening of Saturday August 28.
Karma revealed that he felt shocked at the attitude of the public prosecutor who is still showing his racism towards Yeimo despite the panel of judges at a hearing at the Jayapura District Court on Thursday August 26 ordering the prosecutor to facilitate the defendant in obtaining his right to healthcare, namely a follow up examination and inpatient care at a hospital.
Just like before and despite being urged by several parties over the last two days following the court’s ruling, the chief public prosecutor has not demonstrated good faith.
Moreover when Yeimo was being examined by a medical team at the Jayapura pubic hospital on the evening of Friday August 27, the prosecutor accompanied by security personnel put pressure on Yeimo not to be treated overnight and was then returned to the Papua regional police Mobile Brigade command headquarters detention centre where he has been detained since his arrest.
Yeimo’s lawyer, who is part of the Papua Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition (KPHHP), has already met all of the administrative requirements for Yeimo’s hospital treatment including providing guarantors from the Papuan Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) – legislators John NR Gobai and Laurenzus Kadepa, as well as an advocate.
“Legal affairs in Indonesia are indeed like this, excessively long-winded. Indonesia does not regard life as important, but procedures are more important than people’s lives”, he said.
Karma also feels that the prosecutor’s actions are strange, especially because ipso facto they are an indigenous Papuan who has not heeded the order by the panel of judges during the hearing on Thursday.
“Because the prosecutor is a Papuan, he’s afraid of being labeled as included towards Papuan independence. So, he will try to show that he is more nationalist than the Javanese. Yet in the eyes of the Javanese he’s just a monkey. I lived in Java for a long time, so I have felt this”, said Karma.
Yeimo must be treated first because, according to Karma, a suspect and a defendant is guaranteed by law to receive treatment if they are ill.
“What we want this evening is for brother Victor Yeimo to be allowed to be treated in hospital. But this has not happened because of other considerations and they say they are following legal procedures”, he said.
Because of efforts to get Yeimo treated in hospital have not borne fruit, Karma is calling on all Papuans to surrender his fate to God.
“We will cool our passionate hearts, let us rise in hymen and prayer. Myself and all of us exist not just because of power, but rather because Jesus who lived before us, today and forever. I invite us all to rise in prayer for Victor tonight, assured and trusting in Jesus to save him”, said Karma.
KPHHP litigation coordinator and Yeimo’s lawyer Emanuel Gobay believes that the Papua chief public prosecutor’s response to Gobai and Kadepa when he met with them at his private residence was different from the court’s ruling that his client receive inpatient treatment because his state of health has deteriorated while being detained at the Mobile Brigade detention centre.
“We have heard the chief public prosecutor’s response. If seen from the court’s ruling, there is difference in how it’s seen. What the chief public prosecutor has conveyed proves that he does not respect the judges’ ruling at the Abepura Class IIA District Court. The public prosecutor has gone against the court’s order”, asserted Gobay.
Speaking in front of Yeimo’s family and activists gathered in front of the prosecutor’s private residence at 8 am, Gobay said that Yeimo’s lawyers would accompany him at the next hearing on Tuesday. His guarantors, Gobai and Kadepa will also attend the hearing.
[Translated by James Balowski. Slightly abridged due to repetition. The original title of the article was “Filep Karma Heran Jaksa Masih Hambat Victor Yeimo Dirawat”.]
3) 6,000 Police, Army Personnel Deployed For PON XX in Papua
Editor: Petir Garda Bhwana
31 August 2021 12:49 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Papua – As many as 6,000 National Police and Army (Polri-TNI) personnel were deployed to help secure the implementation of the XX National Sports Week or PON in Papua which will be held in October 2021.
The Papuan Regional Police Chief, Inspector General Mathius D. Fakhiri, said that later the Nusantara Mobil Brigade personnel would also assist.
“Thousands of personnel that we have prepared will also be divided into four regencies or cities to host the PON, namely Jayapura City, Jayapura Regency, Timika and Merauke,” said Mathius in a written statement on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
Previously, the Director of Security for Vital Objects of the Papua Regional Police, Sr. Comr. Nicolas Ari Lilipaly, stated that there would be 6,000 national police and army personnel who would secure PON XX. The thousands of personnel will secure approximately 20,000 incoming people, consisting of more than 6,000 athletes, around 3,000 officials and 9,000 more committee members.
Nicolas said that the police will, among other things, secure the arrival and return of athletes and their entourage, venues, security for the opening or closing ceremonies, as well as securing the fire and traffic lanes. “As well as securing lodging places used by athletes,” he said on August 12, 2021.
4) VP, minister discuss draft regulations for Papua special autonomy law
30th August 2021
Jakarta (ANTARA) – Vice President Ma’ruf Amin on Monday summoned Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian to discuss draft government regulations for Papua’s special autonomy law.
At the meeting, Karnavian reported on developments in the formulation of two government regulations pertaining to institution and financial governance for Papua’s special autonomy, vice presidential spokesperson Masduki Baidlowi said in a written statement released on Monday.
According to Karnavian, the two draft government regulations must be endorsed no later than October 19, 2021 or three months of the enactment of Law No. 2/2021 concerning the second round of amendment to Law No. 21/2001 concerning special autonomy for Papua province, Baidlowi said.
“The newly-enacted special autonomy law needs government regulations to implement it. The deadline for the endorsement of the government regulations is three months after the enactment of the law,” he added.
The home affairs minister has submitted the draft government regulations, which involve 33 ministries and non-ministerial government institutions, to the vice president, he informed. The draft government regulations also cover the planned proliferation of Papua province, he added.
“The home affairs minister has submitted all the draft government regulations to the vice president, including the planned proliferation of Papua province which constitutes the aspiration of Papua people,” Baidlowi said. editors note . This is more likely to be a continuation of the push to create another Province in West Papua
Reporter: Fransiska N, Suharto Editor: Fardah Assegaf
5) ‘We’re almost dead’: Covid patient numbers in Papua surge while vaccinations stagnate
Asrida Elisabeth, Project Multatuli 30 August 2021
News Desk August 31, 2021 2:43 pm
In Wamena, the city at the economic center of Papua’s central highlands, a mother of two stays home to avoid contracting Covid-19. The woman who asked to be identified as AB reminds everyone–family or visitor alike–to wash their hands before entering. The number of coronavirus cases in Wamena has been increasing. Local officials suspended commercial flights to the region on July 12, in line with tighter restrictions imposed by the central government, far away in Jakarta, following a surge in deaths.
Unlike as in the first wave of Covid-19 infections in 2020, the second wave has affected people close to AB. Two of her neighbors were buried a few days earlier. Her own mother was hospitalized for a week. “When the first wave came […] they said Papuans couldn’t get it, but the second wave actually killed a lot of Papuans,” AB said in a phone interview.
Unfortunately, according to AB, people have lowered their guard against the pandemic, as seen in her observations of daily life in Wamena.
No one in her family has been vaccinated. Information on social media about the vaccine’s side effects has made her doubtful. Moreover, AB and her husband suffer from HIV and are following a treatment program.
“Personally, I don’t really mind [a vaccination]. What makes us hesitant is all the information on whether the vaccine is good or not, its side effects and everything. And people like me–with a comorbidity? This is the question. It’s better not to be vaccinated because of the fear of fatal side effects.”
AB said that her only source of information about Covid-19 and vaccines is social media. Wamena’s slow internet makes finding accurate information a lengthy and expensive process. A local police car is the only source of direct information, when it announces mass vaccinations in the area.
“The average person here is terrified by the [possible] effects of the vaccine,” she said. “I’ve not seen any widespread explanation about the various vaccines that have reached this small community. I hardly know anything myself. Which groups need vaccines? We must know beforehand, right? So that we can decide what to do.”
AB said most of her unvaccinated friends were also worried about side effects. “This is closely related to them being unsure of their own medical history–a common story in Papua. When they fall sick, indigenous Papuans rarely go to puskesmas [community health care centers] but often treat themselves at home.” Access difficulties and Papua’s difficult geography have led to the province’s poor performance on the Indonesian government’s public health development index, according to the Health Ministry.
In Jayapura, the provincial capital, health care is far better than in other parts of Papua. Yet even here, residents have been increasingly burdened by the pandemic.
The head of the Papua Provincial Health Agency, Dr. Robby Kayame, said upwards of 20 people have died every day in Jayapura alone in July.
“Compared to March 2020, there has been a 300 to 400 percent increase in Covid-19 patients in March 2021,” Dr. Kayame said. “Every day, there are 150 to 400 cases.” This figure, he added, was based on people asking to be tested, not from testing requests from the officials tracing the close contacts of Covid-19 patients.
“If we look at the Papuan community, the number [of Covid-19 cases] might be double. It could be up to 60,000 or even more,” Dr. Kayame said.
Dr. Kayame sounded desperate when he said that funds, facilities and health workers in Papua were severely limited. In addition, Papuans are vulnerable to malaria, HIV, hepatitis and several other diseases that worsen their health. Poor nutrition and dietary habits also pose problems.
Since mid-July, almost every hospital in Jayapura has been overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, such as Yoram Dwa, who fell ill on July 9. On July 20, his family took Yoram, who also had lung problems, to Yowari Hospital in Sentani, Jayapura, where he was diagnosed with Covid-19. Hospital staff wanted to transfer him to an isolation room but his family refused.
“We checked the isolation room, but the room was cluttered,” said Ambokari, Yoram’s wife. “How could the patients breathe fresh air?” When the family brought him home, his condition worsened. Yoram could barely breathe. Speaking tightened his chest. His oxygen saturation dropped to 50 percent, well below 94 percent, the level requiring immediate medical treatment, according to the World Health Organization.
Again, Yoram’s family went to the hospital. However, by this time, Jayapura was in the middle of an outbreak. Beds were full, oxygen was scarce, and many local health care workers had been exposed to the virus. On July 25, the family went to Dian Harapan Hospital in Wamena. When there were no available beds, a nurse suggested going to Dok II Regional General Hospital–a larger, referral facility that also turned out to be overflowing with patients, as was the next facility on the family’s list, Abepura Hospital.
When Yoram’s breathing worsened as the car jolted along the rocky road, the family decided to take him back home to Maribu, in West Sentani. They had traveled more than 117 kilometers.
His condition now critical, Yoram was cared for at home, surviving only with an oxygen can purchased at a pharmacy. Someone from the local health center would occasionally bring medicine and offer advice on how to improve his breathing. Family and friends were trying constantly to get an oxygen cylinder with a regulator.
“Now we are busy looking for a way to get oxygen,” Ambokari said. “If we cannot get it in the next few days, then we’ll just use whatever we have, because of the crisis.”
I observed the hospitals where Yoram’s family had sought help. At Dok II, patients filled the veranda of the emergency unit, whose 15 beds were occupied with patients breathing with the help of supplemental oxygen or family members. At Abepura Hospital, patients continued to arrive, standing in line to be treated in the ER, while others waited for the bodies of their deceased relatives to be released by staff. One patient died before treatment.
The Trauma of Indigenous Papuans
The hospital crisis has coincided with low vaccination rates in Papua, especially among indigenous Papuans.
Efforts to overcome the problem have included a webinar, titled “Questions about the Covid-19 Vaccine”, held by the Jubi news outlet and Kingmi Church–two of the most trusted institutions in Papua–on July 24.
At the seminar, Dr. Kayame, the Papua Health Agency chief, said only 190,723 people in Papua province (13.06% of the population) had received one dose of the vaccine as of July 24, while second doses had been administered to 12,911 people (5.58%).
Jayapura, Mimika and Merauke are all areas of Papua with higher vaccination rates than the mountainous areas of Lapago and Meepago. In Saireri area, the vaccination rate in Biak regency is much higher than in Supiori, Yapen and Waropen. Vaccination rates in Boven, Mappi and Asmat are in the higher range.
“The percentage of Papuans who have been vaccinated is very small compared to non-Papuans in some places,” Dr. Kayame said.
Many believe since Papuans continue to gather with little regard to the virus, that they cannot be infected with Covid-19, according to Dr. Kayame. This misbelief has been exacerbated by hoaxes on social media, including WhatsApp, that have spread fear-mongering narratives about the vaccine’s potential side effects.
Distrust of the Indonesian government is another factor for Papuans who refuse to be vaccinated, according to Rev. Benny Giay, leader of the Kingmi Church in Tanah Papua.
The experience of the Papuan people with the Indonesian state has been one of murder, repression, imprisonment, fear and trauma. For the past two years, Covid-19 has been used an excuse for Indonesian security forces to silence Papuan voices protesting against racism and Jakarta’s interests, Rev. Giay said.
“Those suspected [of abuses] by the Papuan people should not be involved in overseeing vaccinations,” said Rev. Giay. The involvement of the Indonesian Army and police in vaccinations has made Papuans hesitant to get the injection, he added.
Audryne Karma, the daughter of the political figure Filep Karma, said Papuan distrust of the government went beyond vaccines, stating that local indigenous Papuans were already afraid that pre-pandemic public health programs had a hidden agenda.
“We have ingrained trauma,” she said.
Audryne, who as a dentist worked for three years in Dekai, Yahukimo, said that the local child mortality rate in the region was high, since the community objected to basic immunization programs. A widespread polio outbreak in 2019 prompted the government to launch another vaccination campaign that succeeded only after health workers collaborated with the local church.
Vaccine hesitancy also stemmed from a lack of official information, Audryne said. “I think it’s everyone’s right to know the side effects of drugs and whether they are harmful or not. But I don’t see that. I only see the information from the WHO that provides detailed facts on the vaccine’s side effects.”
Eben Kirskey, a US anthropologist who has researched Papua, has urged Papuans not to fear vaccination. He shares similar suspicions related to the movement “Papuan Lives Matter”, which echoed “Black Lives Matter” with shared experiences of racism. Suspicion among black Americans, he said, was quickly eroded when people became aware of Kizzmekia Corbett, an African-American who was the key scientist behind the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.
“If you are young, under 30s or 40s, if you don’t feel sick, I think it’s better to use Sinovac. However, if you are over 70, diabetic, a bit overweight, and have a heart disease, which means you have a high risk of dying from COVID-19, Astra Zeneca may be more suitable,” said Kirksey.
“The logic is, if you have a medical condition, you must get vaccinated sooner because you’re more vulnerable when exposed to Covid-19.”
Melissa Hascatri, a physician who leads the Yoka puskesmas in Heram, Jayapura, said that most of the people seeking vaccinations at her center came from outside the village. “We still have to continue to approach locals. They want to access information [on vaccines and Covid-19]. In the beginning [of the pandemic], we were still spreading information, but people also said they had heard of some hoaxes,” Melissa said.
The number of Covid-19 cases in her area has increased. In July 2021, 14 to 16 patients were positive for the coronavirus. Half the clinic staff tested positive, including Melissa. One of her staff was transferred to Dok II for treatment.
Melissa said more information campaigns with community leaders are needed to convince Papuans to be vaccinated. “We have already sent a letter to the church. We will definitely communicate with the church again.”
‘My Mama Drinks Eucalyptus Oil’
The last two months have been tough for Rev. Samuel Hesegem, a pastor at the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Papua. He lost his parents, Alex Hesegem, 65, and Amelia Infandi, 53, to Covid-19. They died at Dok II Regional General Hospital.
His father, who was Papua’s deputy governor from 2006 to 2011, died on June 20, following treatment in isolation for three days. Three weeks later, his wife died after a night in intensive care.
Samuel was the first in the family to test positive, after a few days of fevers and shortness of breath. He said that he felt strong enough to self-isolate in a room on the second floor of their house. But his parents continued to interact with him.
“I reminded them ‘I’m positive. You should stop at the door.’ But […] you know how parents are.”
“Mother always wore a mask. Father too. But sometimes at night when I was asleep, he came in alone, with no mask, he sang, he prayed for me, even though I always reminded him.”
The family doctor suggested that Samuel’s parents and the relatives who had interacted with him take a swab test. His father tested positive and his mother tested negative. Samuel said his father was distressed: X-rays revealed spots on his lungs. The physician recommended antiviral medicine and other drugs for his stomach and lungs. Alex previously suffered from complications, including stomach pains.
“I was also given lung medication and antivirals,” said Samuel. ”I think it was this part–the reaction from the medication–that led to Papa feeling immediately weaker and he had to be rushed to the hospital.”
Samuel continued to have breathing difficulties and was treated at the same hospital.
“It was when I was isolated that Papa passed away. I only heard the news. It was hard, as I was dealing with the coronavirus and I lost Papa. I wished I could see him one last time, but the doctor wouldn’t allow me with my chest feeling so tight.”
While Samuel was in the hospital, his mother stayed close by. He improved and Samuel and his mother were tested on July 2, when Samuel was released. His mother, however, tested positive. They received the results on July 4.
“Mama heard drinking eucalyptus oil was good for [Covid-19] patients–three to four times a day. Eucalyptus oil is diluted in warm water. Mama was probably so desperate that she took eucalyptus oil directly from a spoon and downed it with warm water. But she had stomach problems and had immediate reactions when she took it,” he said.
Samuel decided his mother should isolate at home. However her condition remained poor and on July 11 she was rushed to Dok II General Hospital–again, at the height of the recent spike in Jayapura. Amelia waited in a wheelchair for hours before she was given a bed.
“Mama was panting and sweating for almost half an hour. They were late to change the oxygen tank. Even when they changed the tank I saw her oxygen saturation had decreased to around 70, Samuel said. “In the ER, we could only say, ‘Mama you must be strong. We only have Mama, you must be strong.’”
The doctor took Samuel’s mom to intensive care. She died on July 13.
Politics Complicate the Pandemic
In the last two months, politics in Papua have been driven by the Jakarta elite. It has been hard for the provincial administration to focus on the pandemic.
At the end of June, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian, a former National Police chief and former chief of the Papua Provincial Police, appointed a local bureaucrat–without notice–to fill in for Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, who was sick. This angered Enembe, who threatened to report Tito to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Papua hasn’t had a deputy governor since Klement Tinal died in May.
Divisive politics continued in July, when the House of Representatives in Jakarta passed a revised Papua Special Autonomy Law over local protests, with provisions authorizing the province’s expansion without consulting the local legislature. Police arrested dozens of demonstrators in Jayapura, charging members of the crowd with violating health protocols.
Tito also vacated Enembe’s plan, devised after experts said the Delta variant entered Papua, to close sea and air access to the province from Aug.1 to Aug. 31. Jakarta did not want a lockdown. President Jokowi previously approved extended lockdowns only for Java and Bali. Tug-of-wars between the central and local governments have been common since the pandemic took hold in Indonesia in 2020.
Unlike other Indonesians, Papuans are used to the sight of security forces into areas regarded as hotbeds of armed resistance. Jokowi’s government has labeled political groups demanding a referendum on Papua’s future as terrorists. Recalling the example of East Timor, which gained its independence after an Indonesian invasion through a referendum, activists have called for a similar vote in Papua.
Jokowi’s security approach, continuing from earlier regimes, has aggravated problems in Papua. Favouring an economy-first approach to the pandemic, Jokowi has not implemented the full provisions of the Health Quarantine Law, which was intended for emergencies such as pandemics. It is a move that would require the government to meet all the basic needs of the people during a crisis like Covid-19.
Despite the pandemic, the central and provincial governments are planning to hold the 20th National Sports Week (PON XX) in Papua in early October.
“Everyone should be responsible. All these Papuans are dying. The virus has spread everywhere throughout Papua, up to the remote hinterlands,” Dr. Kayame said.
Rev. Giay urged the establishment of a special team comprising representatives of churches, civil society organizations and the media to monitor the vaccination program in the province.
“We need a new step–a new concept–to enable a program that we can promote. A team that we can trust, so that we can break down the wall of distrust that is deeply ingrained in Papuan society. If this team is not accepted, it will amount to suicide. Papuans will die […] and become extinct.”
Editor: Fahri Salam, Ati Nurbaiti, Christian Razukas
This article is part of the #KamiSesakNapas and #DiabaikanNegara reporting series supported by Yayasan Kurawal.
This article is originally published in Indonesian as part of the report series to portray inequality in Covid-19 handling. The series is supported by Kurawal Foundation. You can help Indonesia deal with oxygen shortage through #OxygenForIndonesia.
Translated from Indonesian by Maria Clara Yubilea Sidharta – AIYAtranslation team.
Below is the West Papuan news summary put out by AWPA Sydney .
Just after this was sent out the judge hearing the court case against WP activist Victor Yeimo made a ruling as per below
Court orders hospital treatment for Victor Yeimo, prosecutor objects to inpatient care
Suara Papua – August 27, 2021
Jayapura — At the second court hearing which was to hear the reading out of the charges against West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson activist Victor Yeimo on Thursday August 26, the panel of judges ordered the prosecution to prioritise the defendant’s health.
The panel of judges ordered the prosecution to take Yeimo to a hospital for intensive treatment because his health has further deteriorated.
The first and second court hearings this week were postponed because of Yeimo’s worrying state of health and because he was unable to attend the hearing.
On Friday August 27 Yeimo was taken to the Jayapura public hospital in Dok II for an examination and treatment.
John NR Gobay and Laurenzus Kadepan — two members of the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) — have declared that they are ready to stand as guarantors for Yeimo while being treated. Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Director Emanuel Gobay has also declared that he is ready to become a guarantor.
This was conveyed to the panel of judges at the Jayapura District Court on Thursday who subsequently granted the request.
When contacted by Suara Papua on Friday, Gustaf Kawer, one of the members of Yeimo’s team of lawyers, revealed that after Yeimo was taken to the Jayapura hospital there was pressure from the prosecutor who said that Yeimo was not allowed to receive inpatient care.
“It is correct that Victor was taken to hospital earlier. But on the matter of inpatient care this is still being debated with the prosecutor. Because the prosecutor wants Victor Yeimo not to be treated at the Doc II hospital”, he told Suara Papua.
According to Kawer, there was a debate between Yeimo’s lawyers and the prosecutor at the hospital. Yeimo and his lawyers wanted him to be treated at the hospital while the prosecutor did not.
Kawer said that the administrative requirements can be completed and will be handed over on Monday next week.
“What we are asking and urging is that Victor Yeimo’s health [be prioritised]. His state of health is not good. He must be treated in a hospital. We already have the guarantors. The administrative requirements can be handed over on Monday. What we want is for Victor to be treated. Victor’s health is more important”, he said.
In a video received by Suara Papua on Friday evening, it shows Yeimo at the Dok II Jayapura hospital emergency unit. In several photographs received it also shows Yeimo being examined by a team of medics at the hospital.
Meanwhile in another video received by Suara Papua it shows Yeimo debating with the authorities and the prosecutor who are insisting that Yeimo not be treated at the hospital.
[Translated by James Balowski. Abridged slightly due to repletion. The original title of the article was “Victor Yeimo Dipaksa untuk Tidak Dirawat di Rumah Sakit”.]
The trial of West Papuan political prisoner Victor Yeimo started in Jayapura this week, now adjourned to 31 August. Victor was arrested on the 9 May 2021 and faces a number of charges including treason because of his peaceful role in the anti-racism protests on the 19 August in 2019. He is accused of violating Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code on treason and conspiracy to commit treason. He is being held at the Mako Brimob Prison in Jayapura.
There is also concern for Victor’s mental health. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Papua’s head, Frits Ramandey, said his group had visited the former KNPB chairman three times and was concerned for Yeimo’s psychological condition as he is being kept in isolation at the Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters.
Yeimo’s lawyer, Gustav Kawer, has reported that repeated requests from the legal team for his client to undergo a comprehensive health check-up were denied, although he had complained of chest pain and coughed up blood.Yeimo is being detained at a facility run by the Mobile Brigade police unit and his lawyer said that Victor is lodged in a cell with minimal lighting and poor air circulation.
Healthcare & Legal Fees For West Papuan Activist Victor Yeimo
By Papuan People’s Petition – Australia
Urgent appeal to support West Papua political prisoner, Victor Yeimo.
We are concerned community based in Australia and New Zealand, standing in solidarity with West Papua. We call for our friends to support Victor Yeimo, international spokesperson for West Papua National Committee and Papuan People’s Petition.
Twice in early August, Victor Yeimo pleaded for help from the district court judges. He said he was very sick, that he had lost at least 10 kilograms, but had been denied adequate medical treatment, and his isolation in prison, amounts to torture.
“Help! Help me! I need to be treated now because I am very sick, especially at night.” – Victor Yeimo pleading to the judges during his political trial on 26th August, 2021.
Many in West Papua and beyond admire his leadership, courage and charisma in non-violence and self-determination struggle of West Papua.
The Government of Indonesia’s covert Nemangkawi Task Force arrested Mr Yeimo in Papua, Jayapura, on Sunday, 09 May, 2021, without a warrant.
After falsely accusing him of committing treason and inciting violence during the 2019 West Papua Uprising, imprisoning him for speaking out against racism, putting him in solitary confinement for 3 months, limiting access to lawyers and family, they are now denying him proper medical treatment of his deteriorating health condition.
Don’t let another freedom fighter die in a cell at the hands of the Indonesian colonial system.
We are extremely concerned about Victor Yeimo’s wellbeing. We aim to raise $5000 to cover towards medical, food, and legal costs, as well as his families’ and lawyers logistical needs and constraints during this long legal process.
All over West Papua and the world people are calling for his release, join the call!
Sam Klintworth, National Director of Amnesty International Australia, said in support of Victor:
“Peacefully protesting against racial discrimination should never be punished. Victor’s health is deteriorating as he languishes in detention, and he is forced to take on a legal battle to defend his right to freedom. Amnesty will continue to defend Victor’s rights, and I encourage everyone to do what they can to help free Victor.”
Mary Lawlo UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (Twitter, 10 Aug):
“I am hearing disturbing reports that Human Rights Defender from #WestPapua, Victor Yeimo, is suffering from deteriorating health in prison. I’m concerned because his pre-existing health conditions put him at grave risk of #COVID19.”
West Papuan Pastor Dora Balubun:
“Victor Yeimo’s condition is critical, and the prosecutor’s office has not allowed him to be treated at the hospital. For the sake of humanity, please save him immediately.”
“Victor Yeimo symbolises the Papuan people in maintaining our collective resilience and positive energy. Please show our solidarity, help Victor Yeimo, help West Papua!“
We can’t let Victor pay the price for his self-determination advocacy in West Papua. Your donation will be used to cover him speaking out against racism. Any excess funds will go towards helping other political prisoners.
Tomorrow, we are holding the introductory webinar to the Pacific Education and Advocacy Festival. We are inviting all to join this educational meeting and discussion on various issues in the Pacific Region, including the long-standing campaign for self-determination of the region and many of its island nations.
We have an exciting line-up of speakers which you can see here!
Bahasa interpretation shall be available and the event shall also be broadcasted on the Facebook Page of the Festival.
SM Said, Jayapura — The Nemangkawi Cyber Ops Task Force have arrested the owner of a Facebook account in the name of Manuel Metemko for allegedly spreading fake information or hoaxes and inciting hatred or ethnic, religious, racial and inter-group (SARA) hostility between individuals or social groups.
Metemko is the chairperson of Merauke district branch of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) which is a wing of and is affiliated with the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation (TPNPB-OPM).
“On Wednesday June 9, 2021 at 22.35 West Indonesia time the Nemangkawi Cyber Ops Task Force arrested the owner of a Facebook account [in the name of] Manuel Metemko in the name of EKM (38) when it was suspected that the suspect was at their home on Jalan Perikanan Darat, Kelapa V sub-district, Merauke district, Merauke regency, Papua”, said Nemangkawi Task Force public relations head Senior Commissioner M Iqbal Al-Qudusy in Jakarta on Thursday June 10.
Al-Qudusy said that the Cyber Ops Task Force has already taken the suspect to the Merauke district police for a forensic digital examination of the evidence which was seized.
“Don’t make hoaxes or untrue news, provoke the public with reports [which incite] hatred and result in animosity in the land of Papua, the public wants to live in peace”, said Al-Qudusy.
Meanwhile there were several postings which are alleged to have broken the law, including among others, sharing a photo which is not in accordance with the original incident with the caption, “Photo: Ilaga Airport, Puncak regency, Papua, was successfully burnt down by the TPNPB, Thursday (03/06/2021)”.
Then, “Otsus [special autonomy] has failed totally, the people oppose it and demand a referendum, thousands of troops have been sent, there are casualties everywhere, Catholic religious figures have been terrorised by OTK [unidentified individuals], rumors of terrorists are thriving in the land of Papua. The question is, who is the breeder of the humanitarian crimes and terrorism in Indonesia and Papua?”.
According to Al-Qudusy there are still many other postings which are deemed to create social unrest and because the person concerned is the KNPB Merauke chairperson police are taking legal action against the owner of the Facebook account.
The perpetrator is alleged to have violated Article 45A Paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 28 Paragraph (2) of Law Number 19/2016 on Revisions to Law Number 11/2008. (sms)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Manuel Metemko Ketua Sayap Politik OPM-KNPB Merauke Ditangkap Satgas Nemangkawi”.]
With their plight largely ignored by the public, 63 Indonesians detained on treason charges have turned to the United Nations for help, hoping they could be saved from the threat posed by the COVID-19 disease in the country’s overcrowded prisons.
The prisoners made joint appeals to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and three UN special rapporteurs on Wednesday, helped along by Australian and Indonesian lawyers Jennifer Robinson and Veronica Koman. The human rights lawyers argued that the 56 indigenous Papuans, five indigenous Moluccans, one native Batak and one Polish national were arbitrarily and unlawfully detained in violation of the country’s international obligations.
“These urgent appeals have been made given the imminent threat to the prisoners’ lives from being detained in overcrowded prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic […] Their detention is now not only unlawful, but life-threatening. All 63 prisoners should be immediately and unconditionally released,” Robinson said in a statement on Thursday.
The appeal was made following the government’s plan to grant early release or parole to 50,000 eligible prisoners and juvenile inmates as a means of preventing the spread of the infectious disease in correctional facilities. Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly previously said that those eligible for release include 15,442 drug convicts who have already served five to 10 years, 300 graft inmates aged 60 years and above, 1,457 special crimes convicts with chronic diseases and 53 foreign prisoners who have served at least two-thirds of their sentences.
It remains unclear whether the 63 prisoners in question are eligible for early release, but one ministry official said on Thursday that only those who fulfilled the requirements set out in Law and Human Rights Ministery Regulation No. 10/2020 would be considered. The regulation stipulates that convicts are eligible for early release unless they have committed one of several types of crimes, including crimes against national security. Most of the petitioning prisoners were arrested for their involvement in a series of protests against racial abuse last year, which stoked tensions between Papuan rebels and the government. The country’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua have long been dealing with a disorganized separatist movement, which the Indonesian government routinely blames as being the actor behind various cases of violent unrest in the restive region.
Indonesia’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, Hasan Kleib, said he had not received any information about the appeals the lawyers claimed to have submitted. “We have not seen the copy of the letters. We are trying to find out and ask the relevant parties at the UN Human Rights Council directly,” Hasan told The Jakarta Post in a short message on Thursday. Indonesia was elected to the Human Rights Council in October last year. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is mandated by the council to investigate alleged cases of arbitrary detention, but only with the consent of the states concerned.
On April 1, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged countries to reduce the population of overcrowded prisons to avoid an explosive spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus – which causes COVID-19 – in closed and choked settings. Indonesia currently houses 268,919 inmates in 524 prisons, roughly double its maximum capacity, according to Law and Human Rights Ministry data from February.
Bachelet urged states to “release all those detained without a lawful basis, including those held in violation of human rights obligations”. Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, later stressed that nations should also release “political prisoners and those detained for critical, dissenting views”. All 63 political prisoners in question have been charged with treason under Article 106 and/or Article 110 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code, which can carry a sentence of up to 20 years. Seven of them have been convicted while the others are still on trial. “The activities for which they have been detained range from simply carrying or displaying the West Papuan or Moluccan national [separatist] flags, to participation in peaceful protests and being members of political organizations that support self-determination: all internationally protected activities,” said the human rights lawyers who organized the appeal. According Article 6, Paragraph 4 of Government Regulation No. 77/2007, the design of a regional logo or banner must not have any resemblance to that of a banned organization or separatist movement. Veronika was previously involved in an attempt to hand over letters to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during his visit to Australia in February. The letters reportedly included details of 57 Papuan political prisoners as well as 243 civilians who have died in Nduga, Papua, since December 2018. The document was dismissed by Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD. “So far, we have not received any response, except for the minister saying that the data was ‘probably just trash’. We urge the UN and the Indonesian government to take this matter very seriously now that lives are at stake,” Veronica said. The European Parliament has also called for the Polish man’s transfer back to his home country. Papua has restricted entry to the province by sea and air to stem the spread of COVID-19. As of Thursday, Papua has confirmed 80 cases and six fatalities, while West Papua has recorded five infections and one death. The country’s official tally is currently at 5,516 confirmed cases with 469 deaths.
1) Papuan activist, Victor Yeimo, to face multiple charges including treason
News Desk May 11, 2021 3:24 pm
KNPB’s flag – Jubi
Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Mathius D Fakhiri said that Victor Yeimo, the international spokesperson of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) arrested by the police on Sunday, May 9, 2021, would face multiple charges including treason charges.
Other than charged with treason, Yeimo was also accused of violating articles on flags and state symbols, provoking to fight against the authorities, using common force to commit violence, arson, and theft
“I make sure [Victor Yeimo] is a suspect. We arrested Yeimo on Sunday based on a lot of reports. First, we detained him for allegedly provoking the 2019 riots,” Fakhiri said on Monday. In August 2019, riots broke out in Papua and West Papua as local people and students protested against the racial abuse of Papuan students in East Java.
“For that, we will charge him of crimes against national security,” said Fakhiri.
He said Yeimo violated Article 106 jo. 82 and Article 110 of Criminal Code (treason), articles in Law No.24/2009 on flags, languages, state symbols, and national anthem, Article 160 of Criminal Code (incitement to fight against the authorities), Article 187 of Criminal Code (arson), Article 365 of Criminal Code (theft), Article 170 Paragraph 1 of Criminal Code (use common force to commit violence), and Article 2 of Law No.12/1961 on the possession of batting or stabbing weapon.
Fakhiri said his party was investigating all police reports on Yeimo including the alleged violation against Law No. 19/2016 on electronic information and transaction. “Yeimo also [allegedly] distributed propaganda. We will probe the matter further,” he said.
On Sunday, Yeimo was transferred from the Papua Police headquarters to the Papua Mobile Brigade headquarters in Kotaraja. “The police will investigate him there. I have asked the investigators to treat the suspect well. We put forward the presumption of innocence,” he said.
2) Police need time to crush Papuan separatists: senior official
9 hours ago Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesian police will need time to hunt down Papuan separatist terrorists owing to their knowledge of the terrains where they operate and hide, a top official has said.
“At the moment, we need to be patient to follow what has become policies,” chief of the National Police’s Security Intelligence Agency, Coms.Gen. Paulus Waterpauw, told the press here on Tuesday.
The Indonesian government formally designated armed Papuan groups, also known as “KKB”, as “terrorists” on April 29, 2021 and attributed the decision to their acts of terror and crimes against civilians.
Labeling the groups as terrorists would help the government track those backing and funding them, Waterpauw explained.
The National Police’s counterterrorism detachment Densus 88 could be tasked with probing such links, he added.
It is rather strange that the armed terrorists are in possession of expensive firearms and ammunition, he pointed out.
They can also purchase other necessities though they are jobless, he said, adding that the authorities need to find out and break the chain of their financial sources.
Waterpauw also emphasized that the terrorism label is only meant for those committing crimes, and not for members of Papuan communities.
Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to instill fear among the people.
The recent targets of such attacks have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and even, civilian aircraft.
On December 2, 2018, a group of armed Papuan rebels brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya engaged in the construction of the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi sub-district, Nduga district.
The same day, armed attackers also killed a soldier, identified as Handoko, and injured two other security personnel, Sugeng and Wahyu.
Such acts of violence have continued this year. On January 6, 2021, at least 10 armed separatist terrorists vandalized and torched a Quest Kodiak aircraft belonging to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) on the Pagamba village airstrip.
On February 8, 2021, a 32-year-old man was shot at close range in Bilogai village, Sugapa sub-district.
The victim, identified as RNR, sustained gunshot wounds on the face and right shoulder and was taken to the Timika Public Hospital in Mimika district on February 9, 2021.
In a separate incident on February 9, six armed Papuans fatally stabbed a motorcycle taxi (ojek) driver.
another motorcycle taxi driver was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Papua the same day.
On April 8, 2021, several armed Papuan rebels opened fire at a kiosk in Julukoma village, Beoga sub-district, Puncak district, killing a Beoga public elementary school teacher, identified as Oktovianus Rayo.
After killing Rayo, the armed attackers torched three classrooms at the Beoga public senior high school.
On April 9, 2021, armed separatists fatally shot another teacher, Yonatan Randen, on the chest.
Two days later, nine classrooms at the Beoga public junior high school were set ablaze by an armed group.
Barely four days later, Ali Mom, a student of the Ilaga public senior high school in Beoga sub-district, was brutally killed by armed attackers.
On April 25, 2021, Papuan separatists operating in Beoga ambushed State Intelligence Agency (Papua) Chief I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha and several security personnel during their visit to Dambet village. Nugraha died in the attack. (INE)