Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Archipelago | Fri, December 19 2014, 9:57 AM
Years into the Reform era, representatives from international and regional freedom of expression organizations — grouped under the International Partnership Mission (IPM) — claimed that the freedom of the Indonesian press is still under threat.
“Since its democratic transition began, there have been significant improvements in Indonesia’s media environment. However, we observe that there are still several areas of concern where press freedom and the right to freedom of expression remain under threat,” said Michael Karanicolas from the Center for Law and Democracy, reading the IPM statement earlier this month.
The IPM noted that violence, intimidation and threats against journalists continue to present a significant challenge to the establishment of a free and safe media environment.
“In particular, we note that many perpetrators of attacks against journalists continue to enjoy impunity for their actions,” Karanicolas added.
The IPM was hosted by the NGO known as the Tifa Foundation in collaboration with the Independent Coalition for Broadcasting Democratization (KIDP) and the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI), and also includes meetings with representatives from the government, civil society and media.
The organizations represented were Article 19, Center for Law and Democracy, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, International Federation of Journalists, International Media Support, Open Society Foundations Programme on Independent Journalism and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Among other pressing issues, limitations on journalists’ access to Indonesia remains a key area of concern.
Restrictions on foreign journalists entering sensitive regions such as Papua and West Papua mean reporters must obtain additional permissions from an array of government offices, which are seldom granted.
“Unfortunately, the process for foreign journalist to get permit to cover in the area is not easy and there is no transparency of the process,” Sumit Gaholtra from the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
Jane Worthington from International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that all organizations involved in the mission are keen to give support to the new government under President Joko “Jokowi’ Widodo’s leadership. “We are optimistic that the new government has more concern over these issues,” she said.
A local government leader has taken the brave step of revoking the permit of an oil palm company that has already been operating for several years. Following several complaints by local civil and religious leaders about the negative effects of PT Pusaka Agro Lestari’s plantation on the Kamoro people in Mimika Regency, Eltinus Omaleng, who was recently elected as Bupati (regency head) has now declared that the company’s operations are not in the interests of the people of Mimika, and it must stop work. An article from Antara News is translated below.
This is an interesting development for the plantation industry in Papua, where the number of plantations have exploded in the last few years, amidst growing discontent, especially from forest-dependent indigenous communities who are realising that this kind of development has nothing to offer them. A recent meeting of affected communities from across the Land of Papua called for a ten-year moratorium on all plantations in Papua and to re-evaluate the MIFEE project where there are already several active plantations.
Mimika’s new Bupati seems determined to stop the plantation but the company, which is operated by Noble Agri and substantially owned by Chinese Agribusiness giant COFCO, has since been reported in the press as saying that it will file claims for all material and immaterial losses through the court system. Since the company possesses Hak Guna Usaha, a form of land tenure intended for plantation companies which allows them to operate a plantation for around 30 years, it potentially has a strong case. We will have to see how this case develops and what the implications may be for other affected communities elsewhere in Papua.
While the reason to close the company’s operations was for the indigenous people, according to the article below at least, some local indigenous people were angry with the Bupati’s decision, and together with company workers pelted the cars in his party with stones. So a few words of clarification are needed. Those who were angry were people who have become dependent on the company – either for work, or in the case of indigenous landowners, because the company is obliged to compensate them for any timber it clears while preparing its oil palm plantation. However, when people have spoken out against PT Pusaka Agro Lestari, they have mostly expressed concern for the Kamoro communities who live on the rivers downstream from the plantation, and since they are a river-based people, they need a healthy river that is not subject to droughts, flooding or pollution caused by a plantation upstream.
The fact that plantation development also has an effect on communities living remote from the plantation site is something which is rarely addressed. Usually the only communities which are consulted are those which own the customary land rights (ulayat rights) on the land covered by the plantation permit – and that consultation is in order to persuade them to let the company use the land. In theory an environmental impact assessment should address such problems, but this also is often treated as a formality, rather than an in-depth study of potential impacts. If such situations are to be avoided in the future, some kind of more integrated approach is necessary with considerable more openness so that these decisions can be made before a forest is cut down and hundreds of people become dependent on a company, and not several years afterwards.
Eltinus Omaleng, the bupati of Mimika Regency in Papua, has officially issued a decision document to call a complete stop to PT Pusaka Agro Lestari (PAL)’s activities. The oil palm plantation company has been operating in forests around Iwaka, alongside the Trans-Papua road between Timika and Paniai.
Bupati Omalen said to reporters in Timika on Wednesday that he had revoked PT PAL’s permit, even though the company also possesses cultivation rights (HGU) for a plantation, which the central government issued in 2010.
The main reason for revoking PT PAL’s permit is because the company is believed to be destroying Mimika’s forests, which are the principle regulator of water resources and the ecosystem for people who live in coastal villages in the south of Mimika.
“We have taken this decision solely in the interests of the people of Mimika, especially the Kamoro people who live near the coast. If the forest is destroyed, what does the future hold for their children and grandchildren? We do not see any benefit that the local community will get from an oil palm plantation,” said Bupati Omaleng.
On Tuesday (16/12), Bupati Omaleng together with his deputy Yohanis Bassang, the Mimika chief of police Asst Commissioner Jermias Rontini and the District Military Commander 1710 Mimika Lt. Col. Rafles Manurung visited PT PAL’s work site in Iwaka.
Upon arriving at PT PAL’s site, the legal division head of Mimika Regency Government, Sihol Parningotan read out the Bupati’s decision document concerning stopping work and revoking the oil palm plantation company’s permit.
The document revoking their permit to operate was then handed over to one of the company officials.
As Bupati Omaleng’s party was preparing to depart from PT PAL’s area, they met resistance from customary rights holders and company workers who felt that the regency government had taken unilateral action without considering the fate of the people who were dependent on PT PAL for their livelihood.
The cars in the entourage of Mimika administration officials now became the objective of the crowd’s rampage. Even the Bupati’s private car was pelted by stones by one local person. However, the security forces put a stop to the action.
Ready to be challenged.
Bupati Omaleng claims he is ready to respond to any claims that PT PAL’s management or customary landowners might have.
“Come forward, we are ready to deal with them. If PT PAL and customary landowners wish to make claims, the Mimia local government is ready to face them”, Bupati Omaleng ade clear.
Bupati Omaleng asked the Mimika police headquarters and District Military Command 1710 Mimika for their support to oversee activity on PT PAL’s land now that the permit had been revoked.
“We are going to keep checking. If people are still there and they are still working, arrest them and process them”, he said.
Since he assumed the position of Bupati of Mimika on 6th September 2014, Bupati Omaleng claims that he has received many submissions from people involved in the church, the Kamoro ethnic group indigenous organisation (LEMASKO) and other parties who didn’t want there to be investment in oil palm in Mimika.
Several of these organisations believe that the investment in an oil palm plantation is simply a way to cut down the forest with the principle aim of extracting the timber and sending it outside Papua.
The oil palm investment is also believed to threaten the survival of the Kamoro People in the coastal region, by causing rivers to dry up and destroying other ecosystems, bearing in mind that the Kamoro people depend for their livelihood on looking for and gathering products they find in nature.
The Kamoro people have always been dependent on rivers, canoes and sago palms.
The Mimika government intends to conduct an intensive program to plant cassava and other short-lifespan crops in PT PAL’s former area in order to provide economic opportunities for the hundreds of company workers and local communities who are the customary landowners.
“Starting from next year we will provide a budget for this intensive program. PT PAL’s employees and local people who live nearby will be directly involved in planting cassava and other short-lived crops. They will be the ones to enjoy the produce,” explained Mimika’s deputy Bupati, Yohanis Bassang.
According to Bupati Omaleng’s plans, he said, in the future the land formerly controlled by PT PAL will be developed into an international airport for Timika.
Marianus Maknaipeku, a representative for the Kamoro People’s Indigenous Assembly Organisation ( Lembaga Musyawarah Adat Suku Kamoro or LEMASKO), showed his appreciation for Bupati Omaleng’s decision to close down PT PAL’s activities in order to guarantee the survival of the younger generations of the Kamoro people in Mimika.
PT PAL obtained cultivation rights from the central government in 2010 to develop a 39000 hectare oil palm plantation. Before the central government issued this permit, the company had already obtained permits and recommendations from the Bupati of Mimika Regency since 2007.
PT PAL’s plantation is located from the Kamoro River in the East to the Mimika River in the west, on the Trans Papua road from Timika to Paniai.
In 2014 the company planned to have cleared 4000 hectares of forest to plant with oil palm.
Protesters outside the Malang Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) demanded President Joko Widodo cancel his visit to Papua at Christmas. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo)
Malang/Jakarta. President Joko Widodo’s plan to visit Papua for Christmas has been labeled the “worst Christmas present” by a group of students protesting about the shooting of five young civilians in the province earlier this month.
Joko is facing mounting calls from Papuans to abandon his plan to celebrate Christmas in the troubled eastern province, after security forces opened fire on about 800 peaceful demonstrators, including women and children, in the town of Enarotali in Paniai district earlier this month.
Five protesters were killed and at least 17 others — including elementary school students — were injured, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.
But Joko is sticking steadfast to his plan, despite calls from prominent Papuan church leaders to stay in Jakarta due to his muted response to one the worst acts of state violence in years.
Yustus Yekusamon, a coordinator of Friday’s protest in Malang, East Java, said the group “rejected” Joko’s planned visit.
“This is the worst Christmas present from Jokowi’s regime,” Yustus told tempo.co, referring to Joko by his nickname.
Yustus, who was joined by about 30 other students, said military actions in Papua had lead to the deaths of many Papuans. The group demanded Indonesia withdraw military and police forces from the region.
There have been prolonged tensions between Papuan civilians and security forces in the restive province since Indonesia annexed Papua in 1969. Indonesia has a strong and increasing military presence Papua and West Papua to counter a long-simmering independence movement.
Christmas is ‘haram’
Meanwhile, Joko’s plan to celebrate Christmas has also come under fire from hard-line Muslim group the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI.
The group, which is known for violent rallies and raids on commercial establishments, says the president should not congratulate Christians at Christmas.
“It’s haram for Muslims to congratulate those celebrating Christmas. And President Jokowi is not an exception,” Misbahul Anam, chairman of the FPI Consultative Assembly, told Tempo.co on Friday.
Bandung, MAJALAHSELANGKAH - Papua Students Alliance (AMP) assess the Tri Command of the People (Trikora) echoed Soekarno 19 days after the declaration of independence of Papua, on December 19, 1961 in North Yogyakarta square became the beginning of military operations in Papua Indonesia.
Discrimination, murder, rape, shooting is still going on in Papua is a series of events due to the Indonesian annexation of land in Papua that begins with "Trikora".
Protested the incident Papua Students Alliance (AMP) Bandung city committee held a peaceful demonstration in front of Gedung Merdeka, Jalan Asia-Africa.
Monitoring majalahselangkah.com, mass action began a long march from the town square followed Gedung Merdeka Bandung to chant and yell. Passing vehicles must feel the traffic jams due to the mass of partially closing the road.
In this action, the mass unfurled banners reading "Referendum Now !! for West Papua" as well as several posters photo Papua shootings perpetrated by.
One Coordinator of action, Nas Karoba said the action is part of a protest over ever echoed Trikora Soekarno 53 years ago because it is the entrance of the murder, shootings, rapes and other Papuans culminate into a minority in their own land.
It also urged the Indonesian government under the leadership of Jowoki-JK to soon hold a referendum for the people of Papua without the intervention of other parties.
"We ask the students to Papua and Aceh Indonesia to give self-determination, because we have the right to decide for themselves, as well as part of the state constitution colonial Indonesia, the 1945 Act the first paragraph," said the sidelines of the action.
Similar expressed spokesman action, Pian Pagawak is among, he said, since the Indonesian control of Papua in 1961, has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
"Starting from December 19, 1961, in which the initial Indonesian military operations throughout Papua. Military operations throughout Papua, Papuan people have been killed, innocent," said Pagawak is among
It was, he said, made efforts to thwart the establishment of the state of West Papua who had proclaimed on December 1, 1961. "Thus through peaceful demonstration we condemn the actions of the Indonesian military forces. They are killing our innocent people through such operations, "he continued.
Pius said, it will continue to speak out for the sake of Papua, so that the people of Papua nation to self-determination as other nations in the world. (Jekson Ikomou / MS)
Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, December 19 2014, 9:35 AM
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is slated to go to Papua to celebrate Christmas this year and also plans to meet local residents to hear their aspirations on various issues.
Jokowi is pressing ahead with his plan to attend the festivities in the province, despite calls from a number of church leaders in Papua for Jokowi to cancel his plan, as an expression of disappointment over the government’s slow response to the recent shooting incident in Enarotali, Paniai, in which five civilians were killed.
Jokowi held a meeting with National Christmas Celebration organizing committee head Yohana Susana Yembise, who is also the women’s empowerment and child protection minister, as well as other officials at the Presidential Palace on Thursday to discuss preparations for the event.
Jokowi is scheduled to arrive in Jayapura on Dec. 27 and will give a speech to open the Christmas celebration in Papua Bangkit Square at Sentani Airport, Jayapura regency, Papua.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said local police and military personnel would ensure security during the event, while Yohana said Jayapura was a safe place, far from where the Paniai incident had occurred. She added that rejections to Jokowi’s visit “came merely from a small group of people”.
“Other than the celebration, [Jokowi] wants to sit with the Papuan people and discuss what they want Jokowi to do for their welfare,” said Yohana on Thursday.
Yohana was in Papua early this week to monitor the Christmas event preparation in Papua Bangkit Square.
National Police chief Gen. Sutarman added that sending a message to the Papuan people that the province was safe was required to ensure better development there.
Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto revealed that Jokowi would also do blusukan (impromptu visits) to hear the voices of local residents during his two-night trip to the province.
The planned areas for blusukan are being finalized, as is the question of whether the President will visit conflict-prone areas in the province.
“The President is willing to go to the areas where people need to be heard,” Andi said.
On Thursday night, human rights activists held a solidarity event for the Paniai incident at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, citing the absence of a state response to the incident, which occurred when police opened fire on protesters in Enarotali, Paniai, on Dec. 8.
Andi said Jokowi and the government had refrained from hasty assessments or statements pending an ongoing investigation by a joint team led by Tedjo’s office.
“The President asked [us] to investigate the case thoroughly. He also wanted to make a public statement [after] there is clarity about what really occurred there and what needs to be addressed,” Andi said, adding that Jokowi was also willing to hear any findings from independent investigation teams, including those led by the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) and a Papuan synod.
Andi expected clearer developments to be reported to the President next week, and that Jokowi could then address the matter, reducing the possibility of the violence recurring.
Christian children in Indonesia's most easterly province are bearing the brunt of a multi-faceted Islamisation programme that is changing the character of the formerly Christian-majority region. Papuan children are being trafficked to Islamic boarding schools in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, forming part of a growing trend of Islamisation in this politically-disputed region. Government-sponsored transmigration has also diluted the indigenous Christian population so that census figures now reveal they no longer constitute a majority
Impoverished children are enticed away from their families with the promise of a good education, impossible to refuse. Unaware that the educational institutions in which they are placed focus mainly on learning from the Quran, children (possibly thousands) have left Papua over the past decade or so, according to reports.
But these re-educated children are not the only tactic adopted to Islamise the region that the Indonesian military occupied in 1963. Indonesiahas the world's largest Muslim population in the world, although the Papua province was mainly Christian until recent years. Through the government's long-term transmigration programme, millions of Indonesians have moved from Islamic regions of the country, such as Java and South Sulawesi to reside in Papua, finding employment in the lucrative oil, metal and forestry industries there.
Papua is rich in oil, copper and gold, but poverty and undernourishment plague the region, with 32% of the population living below the poverty line, compared with the national average of 12.5%. The illiteracy rate for women is high, at 64%. The indigenous Melanesian population is mostly Christian, and live in remote and inaccessible parts of the province. By contrast, most of the businesses are Islamic and almost all government officials, including the police and army, are also Muslim.
Government medical care is largely neglected, with no government doctors in Wamena or Sorong, even though Sorong is the region's second largest city. Instead, large numbers of the local population are converting to Islam because of the food and medical care offered by Islamic charities. The provision of aid, jobs, schooling, food and housing has encouraged many local Papuans to convert to Islam. Islam's tolerance of polygamy has also made the religion attractive to Papuans. Although polygamy is widely practised in Papuan culture, Papuan churches strongly advocate against it.
The growing Islamic influence has become particularly noticeable in the last few years. The loudspeakers of mosques are in action almost every hour throughout the day and night, instead of just calling Muslims to prayer five times a day. A recent visitor to Sorong described how the mosques took turns to broadcast, so that there was barely a few minutes of silence in 24 hours.
Missionaries who work in the area have witnessed a remarkable spread of Islam in recent years. A Barnabas Aid partner reports that there is little or no missionary or NGO activity in Raja Ampat, West Papua, and the local church is struggling. The 2010 census showed that Papuans now form a minority, at 49% of the total Papua population. Unofficial estimates claim that Muslim migrants now constitute up to 60% of the population, with the mainly Christian indigenous Papuans now making up only 40% of the total population.Papua province comprises of Papua and West Papua and make up the western part of the island of New Guinea, formally annexed to Indonesia in 1969. Previously known as Irian Barat and then Irian Jaya, Papua province was split into West Irian Jaya and Papua in 2003, and West Irian Jaya became West Papua in 2007.
Ever since the Dutch colonial rulers ceded the territory to Indonesia, there has been strong opposition to Indonesian rule and many Papuans want independence. Some reports say that up to 500,000 Papuans have been killed in their struggle for self-determination, and many have joined the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). West Papua is the most heavily militarised region in the country.
Although indigenous Papuans have Melanesian roots, sharing many cultural and ethnic aspects of the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, the eastern half of the island, the two halves of the island had different colonial rulers and this, analysts say, together with other factors has set the Indonesian Papuans apart from their ancient neighbours.