On December 10th, an action was organised in Makassar to commemorate International Human Rights Day, an appropriate moment to highlight the violence, state and corporate aggression and the discrimination faced by Papuans. A giant banner 7 metres x 4 metres was unfurled across a banner. Very many people took notice of this action, both because of the size of the banner, and also because the Papuan issue has lately become extremely sensitive in Indonesia.
The conflict in West Papua has intensified greatly in the last half-year. In the few days following the solidarity action in Makassar, news has emerged of a major military offensive in Paniai region where 26 villages have been razed and the inhabitants of 130 more have been forcibly evicted or have fled (see West Papua Media Alerts report). Papuan resistance movements also continue to grow and consolidate, but full information about the situation often does not penetrate the rest of Indonesia, and acts of solidarity are not so common. Below is the contents of the leaflet which the group JEJAK prepared for the action.
Resist State and Corporate Agression in Papua.
Violence and aggression towards Papua's indigenous people and natural environment is still continuing up to the present moment. It takes the form of abuses by the state and corporations, military violence, a brutal repression of critical movements and local resistance, environmental destruction, genocide and the obliteration of indigenous cultures.
For many Indonesians, Papua's problems are always associated with issues of nationalism, separatism and the Unitary State of Indonesia, without wanting to comprehend the continuing plight of Papuans, whose suffering never ceases.
The reason is, Papua's problems have become never-ending. The indigenous people are killed and tortured to pave the way for exploitation of Papua's natural riches by the world's giant companies and their closest partner: government. Then, to round it off, constitutional reasons and the logic of Indonesian national unity, in combination with a narrow nationalist perception of 'Indonesian-ness', is used to justify repression and aggression towards Papuans and their land.
What is actually happening in Papua?
The latest situation in Papua gives cause for grave concern. Incidents of brutal repression, killings, abductions, violence from the security forces, genocide, ecological destruction, and intimidation of resistance movements keep on occurring with no signs that this will end.
The latest incident this week (3rd December 2011) starkly illustrates this point. In the Puncak Jaya area, forces from the police Mobile Brigade burnt several villages to the ground, including places of worship. This action followed the hunt for one of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM)'s guerilla fighters.
As a result of these burnings, the villagers took fright and ran into the woods. They are now surviving on the little food they can find. This situation is reminiscent of the time Papua (then known as Irian Jaya) was under Military Operation Area status (known in Indonesian as Daerah Operasi Militar or DOM). Reports from international human rights monitors have stated that this status seems to have been informally declared on several areas of Papua once again, Puncak Jaya in particular. Papuans, Indonesians and even foreign journalists are forbidden to enter and this obstructs information about what's really going on in Papua reaching wider society. Previous incidents have also shown that the violence has never stopped, only its intensity has varied.
State and Corporate Aggression.
Since it wields full authority, it cannot be disputed that the the main agent of violence in Papua is the state, acting through its apparatus. Numbers of both organic and non-organic troops continue to increase, more military operations are launched, repression continues and horizontal conflicts are created to provoke and unsettle the situation in Papua.
One objective is to secure Papua, along with all the assets it possesses, to be stripped and exploited, its people subdued and its culture sold a a souvenir to the outside world. Last May President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono explicitly instructed the national chiefs of the police and military to secure Papua for the interests of investment (Jurnal Nasional 16/5). Only a few months ago it was the turn of vice-president Boediono to make this guarantee. Speaking to Jakarta Foreign Correspondent's Club, he said that “Papua is still attractive. It all comes back to investors. There are still high returns. I am not concerned because investors always think rationally”. (Kompas 7/11)
It is no longer a secret that Papua is a treasure island for giant corporations such as Freeport, Rio Tinto, Medco (Arifin Panigoro), Comexindo (Hashim Djoyohadikoesoemo), Artha Graha (Tommy Winata), Bangun Cipta Sarana (Siswono Yudo Husodo), Sinar Mas, Bakrie Sumatera, Wilmar group and others. Mining, forestry, energy and food businesses are enticing ground for national and international capitalists. In the first semester of 2011 alone, the Papuan Provincial Investment Body (BPMPP) report showed a 28% increase in investment in Papua.
The police repression of the strike by Freeport workers is becoming ever clearer. Union activists reported in the mediation negotiations that many other other big corporations such as Newmont, Inco and Unilever have urged Freeport not to accede to the striking workers' demands as it could trigger similar protests in other large companies.
The revelation that Freeport has been paying the police (Tempo, 17/11) to ensure the company's security is an indication of the criminal collaboration between security forces and corporations.
Solidarity, our attitude and its relation to the Papuan situation.
Our attitude can directly contribute to the Papuan people's situation and livelihood. If we are silent, it only shows that the cruelty which Papuan people experience is not a problem, it is something which can be made to seem legitimate. This silence is part of the tragedy of humanity.
Alternatively, our attitude and solidarity can build pressure on the state, give an alternative opinion from that which has been expressed in the mass media, and most importantly, raise the spirit of the people's struggles over there.
Build Solidarity for the Papuan People
Stop State Violence and Corporate Abuse in the Land of Papua
JEJAK Jaringan Kerja Anti Kekerasan Negara & Korporasi (Network against State and Corporate Violence)