Monday, August 3, 2015

West Papua must be raised at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum

West Papua must be raised at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum

Open letter to Pacific Island Forum leaders - West Papua must be raised at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting.

West Papua Action Auckland
PO Box 68419
New Zealand
02 August 2015
Re: West Papua must be raised at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting
Dear Pacific Island Forum leaders,
We are writing to you at a critical juncture for the people of West Papua and regional recognition of their struggle to end human rights violations in their land. 
We call on you to extend your support by prioritising the human rights issues in West Papua at the 46th Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting to be held in September 2015 in Papua New Guinea.We urge you to advance the gains made at the recent Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit in Honiara, July 2015, where the historic decision was made to grant the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Observer status in the MSG.
Ongoing Human Rights Violations
International and Indonesian human rights groups have regularly documented violence in West Papua, including the extensive use of intimidation, torture, sexual violence, beatings and killings by the security forces. The United States State Department 2014 Human Rights report on Indonesia exposes and condemns gross and persistent human rights violations by the Indonesian authorities in West Papua.
Throughout last year, there were harsh crackdowns on numerous peaceful rallies. All sectors of society in West Papua including lawyers, human rights defenders, activists, clergy and journalists faced regular intimidation or the threat of arrest. The year ended with a shocking massacre of four school boys when on 8 December 2014 security forces fired into a crowd of approximately 800 peaceful demonstrators (including women and children) in Enarotali in the Panai regency. Despite international media coverage the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.
This reality is all the more grim when one considers the fact that violent crimes committed by police and security forces are rarely punished. Indonesia is failing to address serious concerns regarding impunity for security forces. Amnesty International states: “Impunity for human rights violations is commonplace. Accountability mechanisms to deal with police abuse remain weak, and reports of torture by members of the security forces often go unchecked and unpunished.”
Political prisoners languish in jail in West Papua for nothing more than raising the Papuan Morning Star flag or taking part in peaceful events. In August 2013, four leaders were arrested at a solidarity event in West Papua that included a prayer meeting and the display of the Morning Star, Aboriginal, and Torres Straits flags inside a church. On 1 May 2015 over 260 West Papuans were arrested by security forces for simply taking part in peaceful rallies in contravention of their right to freedom of expression and assembly. They were commemorating the 52nd anniversary of the administrative transfer of West Papua to Indonesia.
West Papua is currently off limits to international journalists. Foreign journalists trying to report on West Papua have been arrested, deported and even imprisoned. While Indonesia's president Joko Widodo announced the end of the decades-long restriction on foreign journalists reporting on West Papua during a visit in May 2015, the President’s assurance has already been cast into doubt by contradictory statements made by members of his administration stating that foreign journalists would still have to apply for permits and would be subjected to screening.
During the same visit to West Papua Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the release of five political prisoners, under ‘clemency provisions’ which require them to admit guilt for their past actions. If the release of the five prisoners is to be seen as genuine progress, it must be followed by an increase in the rights and democratic freedoms of the Papuan people. Unfortunately there are signs that the opposite is happening.
Indonesia’s Development Policy
Indigenous West Papuans are now a minority in their land. From a large majority (96.09%) of the population in 1971, projected population figures for 2020 place West Papuans at 28.99% of the population, highlighting a rapidly changing demographic.

The Indonesian government’s policy to accelerate development in West Papua policy is unlikely to bring peace or development. It is, in fact, likely worsening the human rights situation in West Papua and further marginalising West Papuan people economically, socially, politically and culturally.
West Papuans must contend with the exploitation of their rich timber and mineral resources for which they receive little benefit. Large-scale mining and deforestation are causing massive social dislocation, devastation of rainforests and pollution of streams and rivers which people depend on to survive. The United National Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has written to the Indonesian government to express concern about the impacts of the planned large-scale Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) project, which involves the conversion of a vast area of land, including forests, into plantations growing food, energy and other crops, on the indigenous peoples affected by this agro-industrial mega-project.
Role of the Pacific Island Forum
West Papua has always been considered part of the Pacific Community. Netherlands New Guinea, as West Papua used to be known, was a member of the South Pacific Commission (SPC), a forerunner of the PIF. West Papuans attended the SPC meetings until the Netherlands ceded its authority to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority in 1962. From the time Indonesia took control of the territory in 1963, West Papua has been excluded from regional meetings. West Papuan leaders are turned down when they ask for observer status, but Indonesia is accepted as a ‘dialogue partner’
However, some of the most significant efforts to inspire action to end human rights violations in West Papua have come from countries in the South Pacific region. Leaders of Nauru and Vanuatu spoke in support of self-determination for West Papua at the UN Millennium Summit in New York. Nauru also invited West Papuan representatives to be part of the official Nauru delegation at the 2000 PIF summit in Kiribati. Then president of Nauru, Mr Bernard Dowiyogo, declared, “[I]f the Forum is to continue to be relevant then it must confront such issues which are important to the lives and democratic rights of the people of our region.”
Subsequent PIF meetings have included expressions of concern about the human rights situation in West Papua. However, in recent years the PIF has dropped the human rights situation in West Papua from its agenda and West Papua has not been mentioned in the official PIF Communiqué.
Now, after over 53 years of political struggle for the right to self-determination, the ULMWP—the unified and recognised coordinating body representing West Papua with support throughout Tanah Papua—was granted Observer status by the 20th MSG Leaders summit in Honiara. It is noted that the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, as chair of the Summit, played a significant role in ensuring this historic decision was made. This political recognition provides opportunity for West Papua to participate in regional dialogue with Indonesia for the first time in history. It is clear that this step was achieved through the increasing support from the people of the Melanesian countries, as well as those in the wider Pacific region and beyond.
Currently, West Papuan leaders are committed to non-violent means to achieve their aspirations and to resolve problems and grievances. The PIF has proven itself to be an effective regional advocate. The forum—whose mandate is to promote regional stability—has a responsibility to help resolve this longstanding Pacific conflict.
It is incumbent on the PIF to take substantive action. Specifically, we urge the leaders of the 46th PIF summit to:
• Devote serious attention to West Papua’s deteriorating human rights situation and make reference to the on-going human rights abuses in West Papua in their annual communiqué.
• Establish a regional Fact Finding Team to conduct a Human Rights Assessment in West Papua.
• Support the call made by the former Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Moana Kalosil Carcasses at the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, for the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate alleged human rights abuses in West Papua.
• Grant observer status to genuine representatives of the Melanesian people of West Papua, those who are struggling for their right to self-determination.
We thank you in advance for acknowledging the rights and aspirations of the people of West Papua as a priority issue.
Yours sincerely,
Maire Leadbeater and Marni Gilbert
West Papua Action Auckland
Aotearoa New Zealand

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tahiti Forum bid could trigger domino effect

Tahiti Forum bid could trigger domino effect
RNZI Updated at 6:44 am today
An academic says there could be a domino effect of non-independent territories seeking to join the Pacific Islands Forum if French Polynesia achieves membership.
The French territory, which currently has observer status at the Forum, is looking at increasing its involvement in the leading regional body.
A Forum mission has recently been in Tahiti to assess its membership bid.
The director of Massey University's Pasifika Centre, Malakai Koloamatangi, says while France is reluctant to entertain the idea of its territories becoming independent, it wants to engage more with the region and having Forum membership could help effect this.
"If it works out for the French territories, who knows, American territories might follow suit if it's shown that joining the Forum in a more meaningful way might be more beneficial for them."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Neles Tebay-The Extraordinary Tolikara Case

2) Top Spook Says Media Need to Be Kept in Check

3) Civil Society Coalition to Hold Joint Prayer at Parliament’ Office

4) Police Should Be Fair in Handling Misunderstanding at Tolikara
5) Political Interests Involved in Tolikara Insident, Councilor Says


The Extraordinary Tolikara Case
Neles Tebay
TEMPO English, Friday, 31 July, 2015 | 21:02 WIB

TEMPO.COJakarta - On July 17, violence exploded in Karubaga, capital of Tolikara district in Papua province. Dozens of stalls and houses were set on fire, which spread to a nearby mosque. One youth was killed and 11 civilians were injured in the shootout that followed. Let us name this incident as the 'Tolikara Case'.

Based on past experience, we noted a number of elements that deserve mention because they have never happened in the history of Papua, and according to our observation, the first time these things happened were in Tolikara.

As far as we know, no violence has ever occurred in Papua during religious holidays, whatever the religion may be. Papuans respect the celebration of all religions. The violence that occurred about two weeks ago, when Muslims around the world were celebrating Eid of the Islamic year 1436, was the very first time that such an incident ever occured in the history of Papua. Therefore, Papuans are now asking: how can something so sacrilegious happen in Tolikara? This is incredible given that indigenous Papuans are totally against disrupting, let alone burning, sacred places, such as churches or mosques.

Although the incident took place in a remote area that can only be reached by a small, single-engine airplane, the Tolikara Case attracted nationwide attention and reaction. The reaction came from a diverse range of people, from common citizens to the President himself, including all the religious organizations. But they came mostly from outside Papua. This is again amazing, because it is the first time in history that violence in the land of Papua has attracted so much attention.

To Papuans, the violence at Tolikara is not the only one that has occurred on this land; our history is marked by a variety of violent happenings. Papuans have gone through different kinds of conflicts, during which many people have been killed. Right up to today, violence continues to happen. As a result, Papua has become synonymous with conflict. Even so, Papuans have never seen the tremendous reaction to what happened at Tolikara.

Compare Tolikara with the time when four young men were shot dead and 18 other civilians suffered gunshot wounds, on December 8, last year at Enarotali, capital of Paniai district. The case remains unresolved. Many in Papua reacted strongly to this act of violence, but little was heard about it outside of Papua. We concluded it was not because people refused to express solidarity with the victims, who are fellow Indonesian citizens, but because the shooting incident itself was not publicly known.

Conversely, the Tolikara incident attracted such wide attention as to warrant visits of high-ranking officials from both the Papua provincial administration as well as those from central government in Jakarta. Among them were the Papua Police Chief and and the Army Commander of Cenderawasih XVII battalion, followed by the ministers of home and social affairs.

No one as important ever came when other incidents happened in Papua in the past. All these visits to Tolikara should be appreciated because they show sensitivity and a commitment to resolve the case comprehensively.

Eight government institutions announced they will conduct investigations: the National Police, the National Commission on Human Rights, the Religious Affairs Ministry, Commission II of the House of Representatives (DPR), the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), the Indonesian Christian Student Movement (GMKI), the Tamir Masdjid Silahturrahmi Forum and Mushala Indonesia (Fahmi Tamami), and the Tolikara Papua People's Committee. Perhaps there are more, without publicly announcing it. Notably, they are all from outside of Papua. So far, no single institution in Papua has announced any plans to investigate the Tolikara incident.

Admittedly, it is the only case of violence in Papua to be investigated by so many institutions. We highly appreciate the intention, because it indicates that all parties seek the truth in a transparent manner.

The central government should take the initiative to coordinate the different investigations, seek differences in the findings and find a common ground for future reference. There should also be a shared commitment stating their willingness to accept the truth with a cool head and a calm heart.

Hopefully, the investigation will englighten all parties to see the problem clearly, and gain a true understanding of what really happened in Tolikara.

Neles Tebay:  Lecturer at the Fajar Timur Institute of Theological Philosophy at Abepura and coordinator of the Papua Peace Network.

2) Top Spook Says Media Need to Be Kept in Check
Observer says BIN should be given authority to make arrests
Jakarta. In the current era of easily accessible information, the Indonesian government needs to keep ‎an eye on the media, the recently appointed head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) said at a book launch on Thursday.
BIN chief Sutiyoso explained that because everybody can find news everywhere these days, it is important to make sure no false information is being disseminated.
“Media control is necessary so that there is no information bias,” said Sutiyoso, a retired general and former governor of Jakarta.
The chief spook was speaking at the launch of a book written by his predecessor at the helm of BIN, Marciano Norman, on the role of state intelligence in Indonesia’s democratic consolidation.
Sutiyoso said that in the current situation, one of the main challenges for the intelligence agency is that it remains very difficult to control the flow of information.
‘Toothless tiger’
Also speaking at the book launch was Tjipta Lesmana, a political communication professor at Pelita Harapan University (UPH), who said BIN should get the authority to arrest people.
“An intelligence agency without the authority to make arrests is like a toothless tiger,” Tjipta said. “I think BIN’s authority should be expanded.”
The observer added that certain safeguards are needed to make sure agents cannot just arrest whoever they want, like in the days of the Suharto regime. But Tjipta also stressed that BIN’s operations should be as secretive as possible.
“If it’s open, it’s not intelligence,” he said. “Look at the American CIA, they’re all around the world, working underground.”
Foreign meddling in Papua
Tjipta reportedly also criticized the decision by the administration of President Joko Widodo to allow foreign journalists to enter the restive Papua region.
“In Tolikara there definitely was foreign [meddling], 1,000 percent,” he said, referring to a recent riot in the Papuan district during which dozens of stalls and a small mosque were burned down and a protester was killed after police opened fire. Eleven others were injured.
The incident triggered fears of sectarian violence throughout the country.
“Jokowi’s policy to allow foreign media into Papua is wrong, a big mistake,” the professor was quoted as saying by RMOL, a local news portal.
“Foreign intelligence agents can enter with press IDs. Seriously, who are his advisers?”

3) Civil Society Coalition to Hold Joint Prayer at Parliament’ Office 

Jayapura, Jubi – The Civil Society Coalition for Peace will conduct a joint prayer at Papua’s Parliament Office’s field on Friday (30/7/2015) at around 13:00 Papua time.
Chairman of Kingmi Church Synod in Papua, the Rev. Benny Giay said the worship is part of series of resolution process between GIDI and Muslim communities at Tolikara, two weeks ago. Kingmi Church Synod invites some parties to participate in the event from both sides, Christian and Muslim communities.
“The spirit to resolve the misunderstanding becomes our reference. People outside of Papua do not be provoked and take benefit on the dispute involving Muslim and GIDI communities in Tolikara for their interest. Do not make us as object for getting something. We are grateful that on Wednesday night (29/7/2015) both sides agreed to resolve that misunderstanding. We are Papuans, Muslims or Christians can resolve this problem,” the Rev. Benny Giay said when give the press conference at Kingmi Church Synod Office, Kota Jayapura on Thusday (30/7/2015).
Coordinator of worship Dominggus Pigay said the coalition has sent an announcement letter to the Papua Police with a copy to Jayapura Municipal Police related to the event.
“We will also send a letter to Papua Legislative Council for announcement. We have several agenda including theater performance on that occasion,” said Pigay.
Meanwhile Nahdatul Ulama Papua Regional Board, Ustad Rasyid Mayang said religious leaders and stakeholders in Papua could solve this misunderstanding without having to involve the outsiders. He said they know the current situation in Papua than others.
“This agreement indicates that religious communities and religious leaders in Papua could solve this problem. So, people live outside of Papua do not easily be provoked with the situation that they don’t know. Tolikara incident was an accident because of miscommunication,” Ustad Rasyid said. (Arjuna Pademme/rom)

4) Police Should Be Fair in Handling Misunderstanding at Tolikara
Jayapura, Jubi – An academic from Cenderawasih University, Marianus Yaung, urged the Papua Police to be fair in handling the conflict at Karubaga, Tolikara, two weeks ago.
“I ask the Papua Police to investigate the witnesses both from the police and civilians, as well as to question GIDI leaders and highly respect the professionalism and principle of justice for every party. Do not make the impression there’s discrimination against GIDI leaders,” Yaung said when the Coalition of Civil Society for Peace in Tanah Papua held the press conference at Kingmi Church Synod Office in Jayapura City on Thursday (30/7/2015).
According to him, those who are found guilty should be punished according to the Law and the shooting perpetrator against 12 civilians also must be revealed. He further said at that time civilians had no weapon.
“It’s hard to find the projectile on the scene couldn’t be a reason. The Papua Police must uphold the principle of justice for both sides, Muslims and Christians. People in Papua are able to solve their own problem. They have local wisdoms to solve it,” he said.
At the same place, the Chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) Kota Jayapura, Victor Mambor said he highlighted more to media coverage when the misunderstanding was occurred in Tolikara.
“Tolikara incident became a lesson. At that time, before doing clarification, media has published the news that likely triggered this misunderstanding to be a national issue,” said Mambor.
Further, Mambor who is also the editor in chief of and Koran Jubi also regretted the police’s act broadcasting the short message to the press and likely triggered the incident as a national issue.
“At the end, we are all getting the impact. The police shouldn’t too rush to send the short message without verification. The sort message was forwarded from Papua Police Spokesperson, and we don’t know what the purpose is,” he said. (Arjuna Pademme/rom)
5) Political Interests Involved in Tolikara Insident, Councilor Says
Jayapura, Jubi – A deputy chairman of the Papua Legislative Council’s Commission I for Politics, Government, Foreign, Legal dan Human Right Affairs, Orwan Tolli Wone, said political interests were involved in the incident that occurred at Karubaga, Tolikara Regency two weeks ago.
The councilor from the Tolikara electoral region said both sides need to concentrate on conflict resolution and that the incident had no connection with a particular religion.
“It’s only a group of people who have an interest in local and national politics. I susect the incident involves both local and national issues. I can make this conclusion because for decades Muslims and Christians in Tolikara have lived in harmony. There’s never a problem. Why did it just happen right now?” Wone said on Thursday (30/7/2015).
However, he also regretted the shooting over 12 civilians at that time. according to him, it shouldn’t be happened if the security forces are professional and could be persuasive in solving the problem.
“The incident shouldn’t be happened. It’s happened because of lack of communication. The regent has made coordination with the local Police Chief but it was likely not well socialized among communities. The shooting incidents are always happened in several regions of Papua. Do not know whether it is an order or else,” he said.
He affirmed at that time there’s no attack on Muslim communities who were at they prayer. According to him, if the attack was real, they must be injured hitting by stones or arrows and so on.
“But I am disappointed because the media was also making the situation unclear. This problem cannot be drawn. All religious leaders and chairmen of religious institutions should sit together in taking the next step to solve this problem,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of Human Right Investigation Team of Papua Legislative Council, Laurenzus Kadepa said he doubted the police could reveal the shooting perpetrator over 12 civilians at Karubaga. (Arjuna Pademme/rom)

Friday, July 31, 2015

1) Discourse: Nationalizing Freeport could be disastrous for the economy -

2) Freeport’s Export Permit Extended  
3) Papua’s first railroad  to connect Sorong-Manokwari - 

4) Papua`s cultural events effectively attracting tourists


1) Discourse: Nationalizing  Freeport could be disastrous  for the economy - 
The Jakarta Post | Discourse | Fri, July 31 2015, 2:27 PM - 
The future of PT Freeport McMoran in Indonesia is hanging in the balance with the government refusing to negotiate the extension of its contract until 2019, two years before it will expire. The American gold mining giant, which operates the world’s largest gold mines in Papua, is lobbying to get the negotiations underway. Political analyst Ikrar Nusa Bhakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), who has done extensive research in Papua, talks to The Jakarta Post’s Safrin La Batu to discuss the future of Freeport. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Question: What do you think of the growing demands for nationalizing Freeport?

Answer: The majority of Freeport’s employees in almost all divisions are Indonesian; from the lowest to the highest positions. In fact, up to 98 percent of its employees are Indonesian. I was told that jobs with certain expertise, like explosive handling, are still handled by Filipinos because Indonesians are not as capable. 

But the government has made Freeport use Indonesian-made detonators supplied by PT Pindad, the state-owned arms company. That seems like a fair deal. 

The company also now buys its food and beverages from Indonesia rather than from Australia as it 
did in the past. Some Indonesian workers have also been sent to work at Freeport’s other operations in Australia.

But would nationalizing Freeport make sense to you?

I would say that I am a nationalistic person, but I am also realistic. The mining industry is a lucrative sector. If our leaders, cabinet members, governors and local leaders are greedy and cannot control themselves, then nationalization will be counterproductive. 

This was exactly what happened during the massive nationalization of Dutch companies in 1957. The impact for our economy was catastrophic, and lasted until 1971. There was mismanagement by army officers with little knowledge and skill who were entrusted to manage state-run companies. They didn’t have the international market networks.

So, should we just forget about nationalization?

Nationalization is possible, but it needs process and time. Before even thinking about it, we need to fix and strengthen the governance of state-owned companies and create a system that stops officials from working for their own personal gain.

The government instead should focus on enforcing existing laws or come up with new ones that are more pro-people. 

Do you think Freeport is doing enough to help with the economic development in Papua?

Freeport can do more in helping to build infrastructure facilities. Infrastructure development in Papua, such as road construction, is not evenly distributed. Freeport has already helped build roads in the Mimika regency [where it operates], and it can help with the development in other parts of Papua like Merauke.

Freeport says they have also contributed large sums for education in Papua. But how many schools have they built? How many Amungme people [the main tribe in Mimika] have benefited from this program? They should also help to bring the many tribes in the area, who are often in conflict with one another, together. Freeport needs to have peace and stability in the area to be able to operate.

Is Freeport also responsible for fostering harmony in Papua?

We have to question the results of Freeport’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. They must have spent a huge sum, but where did the money go? 

The people living in areas near its operation should get a proper education, not just material benefits.

The recent Tolikara tragedy (communal conflict between Christian Papuans and migrant Muslims) was just the tip of an iceberg. The biggest problem in Papua is education, and the target is for all the people in the province, whether they live in the highland or the coastal areas, or whether they are indigenous Papuans or migrants, is learning to live in harmony. -


FRIDAY, 31 JULY, 2015 | 21:12 WIB
2) Freeport’s Export Permit Extended  
TEMPO.COJakarta - The government has officially extended Freeport's permit to export copper concentrate on Friday, July 31, 2015. Bambang Gatot Arianto, the director general of mineral and coal at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said that the letter of permit extension had been signed by the Trade Minister.
"It's official. Freeport's commitment has been realized," Bambang said on Friday, July 31, 2015 in Jakarta.
The Energy and Mineral Resources issued the recommendation letter for Freeport's permit extension on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 allowing the giant mining company to export 775,000 tons of copper concentrate for next six months.
Bambang explained that Freeport had met the requirement set by the Energy and Mineral Resources related to its smelter construction. Currently, the company's smelter construction in Gresik has progressed to 11 percent. Under Finance Ministry's Regulation Number 153/PMK.011/2014, Freeport is entitled to export duty reduction from 7.5 percent to five percent.
Freeport has also paid its commitment fee under Energy and Mineral Resources Minister’s Regulation Number 11/2014, requiring the mining company to pay 60 percent of the total smelter construction cost on a semester basis to a government-owned bank. In the period of January-June 2015, the smelter construction cost in Gresik reached US$280 million.
"We will continue to supervise the smelter construction," Bambang said.
3) Papua’s first railroad  to connect Sorong-Manokwari - 
The National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) has announced that the first railway service in Papua will be the Sorong-Manokwari route in West Papua.
Bappenas transportation director Bambang Prihartono also said that other routes are soon to follow, as the Ministry of Transportation is currently doing feasibility studies to decide which areas are suitable for railroad.
“We are hoping that the feasibility studies will be wrapped up by the end of this year,” Bambang said in Jakarta as quoted by Antara news Agency.
The project will accommodate both passenger and freight trains to increase connectivity in Papua, as well as supporting the planned development of industrial areas on the island.
Bambang explained that the project will need years of preparation before physical construction can start. After the feasibility study is finished, the Ministry of Transportation will begin the detailed engineering design (DED); both phases have an estimated cost of around Rp 33 billion (US$ 2.4 million).
The government is setting the target for physical construction to start as early as 2019.
The railroad project is one of the infrastructure priorities set by the government to facilitate transport on all major islands in the country. The Transportation Ministry Directorate General of Railways earlier has estimated the cost of the projects to be around Rp 234 trillion. (rad)(++++

4) Papua`s cultural events effectively attracting tourists

Jumat, 31 Juli 2015 15:33 WIB | 945 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Annual events, such as the cultural festivals of Lake Sentani, Baliem Valley, and Humboldt Bay have proven effective in attracting both domestic and foreign tourists to Indonesias easternmost province of Papua.

Increasingly more numbers of foreign tourists have shown profound interest in these cultural festivals and are visiting the province to enjoy its natural beauty and to gain firsthand information about the local culture.

According to Mayor of Jayapura Benhur Tommy Mano, the number of tourist arrivals in Papua through the provincial city of Jayapura continues to increase every year. 

He noted that the annual tourism and cultural events in Papua have served as a yearlong gateway for the tourism industry in the province.

"In line with the several tourism events in Papua, the number of tourist arrivals has continued to increase during the past four years," Mano remarked in Jayapura on Thursday.

He noted that the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Papua in 2014 comprised 7,268 foreign tourists and 66,137 domestic tourists.

Mano further explained that the increase in the number of tourist arrivals was a result of the efforts made by the Jayapura Culture and Tourism Office to intensively promote the local tourism attractions.

"In a bid to develop the tourism attractions in Papua and to make it a tourist destination in eastern Indonesia, the local authorities continue to work closely with the tourism ministry and other relevant institutions for holding the tourism events," Mano affirmed.

He stated that the local authorities annually organize events such as the Humboldt Bay Festival, Baliem Valley Festival, and Lake Sentani Festival to promote the local culture and tourism attractions.

Mano expressed optimism that the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Papua through the city of Jayapura will continue to increase until the cultural events kick off.

In an effort to attract more tourists, Papua will host the Humboldt Bay Festival on August 5-7, which will be followed by the Baliem Valley Festival to be held on August 6-8, 2015.

Scheduled to take place in Usilimo region in Jayawijaya district, the Baliem Valley Festival is usually enlivened by various fascinating art and cultural performances, including traditional Papuan dance performances, pig racing, Puradan Rattan Spear Throwing, Sikoko Spear games, and Papuan traditional musical performances, among several others.

The festival will also feature a special Sege-throwing competition and an archery competition for foreign visitors as a mark of appreciation for attending the festival.

The mayor of Jayapura stated that the Humboldt Bay Festival is part of the efforts to support Papua Governor Lukas Enembes program to make the province one of the key tourist destinations in eastern Indonesia.

Mano also affirmed that the Humboldt Bay Festival will be synchronized and coordinated with the implementation of other events such as the festivals of Lake Sentani and Baliem Valley.

"We will certainly create a calendar, which will include the agenda of the festivals in the regions that can be useful to the local and foreign tourists," the Jayapura mayor noted.

In the meantime, Jayapura Culture and Tourism Office spokesman Bernard Fingkreuw has stated that the Humboldt Bay Festival will be organized in a bid to preserve Papuas unique and traditional arts.

Known as the land of "Cendrawasih," or bird of paradise, Papua is truly blessed with an abundance of natural resources and unparalleled traditional arts and culture that must be maintained.

"Whether it will be themed "Beautiful Numbay", "Beautiful Humboldt", or any other theme, the important aspect is that the festival should showcase the beauty of Humboldt Bay and feature various art and cultural activities and attractions," Fingkreuw remarked.

According to the spokesman, the city administration of Jayapura has assigned an event organizer for the annual Humboldt Bay Festival.

"We have appointed an event organizer to make preparations for the Humboldt Bay Festival this year. This is the first time that we have done it," Fingkreuw noted.

He added that the event organizer was appointed to make the festival, which has been included in the national tourism calendar, more professional.

"If the government organizes the festival again, it will be monotonous. However, with the event organizer, which includes creative people, the atmosphere of the festival will be different and even better this year," he affirmed.

Further, he affirmed that the Humboldt Bay Festival in Jayapura will be supported by the Ministry of Tourism. 

Jayapura city, known in the past as Hollandia, is located in Yos Sudarso Bay, which was earlier known as Humboldt Bay.

American travelers to Jayapura will be interested to learn about the citys connection to the United States, and the role it played in World War II.

Fingkreuw noted that the Humboldt Bay Festival was scheduled in early August to avoid overlapping with the Baliem Valley Cultural Festival in Wamena, which is held on August 9 every year.

"We chose to hold the Humboldt Bay Festival early in the month of August, so that the visitors traveling to Wamena can stop over in Jayapura to attend the event," he explained.

Therefore, Papua Governor Enembe emphasized that the Humboldt Bay Festival should be promoted widely and packaged carefully, so that it can generate revenue for the city of Jayapura.

"This festival is unique and nice, as it will feature traditional dances, flute and drum performances, traditional menu cooking contest, hair weaving contest, and ornamental nut," he revealed.

Enembe also stressed that if all aspects of this annual event are well-packaged by involving all stakeholders from the board of hotels and restaurants, travel agencies, and related businesses, then it will be able to attract several local and foreign tourists.