Monthly Archives: January 2011

ASEAN chairmanship helps Indonesia bring peace in Papua

Mangadar Situmorang*, Having officially assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN, Indonesia brings forth an agenda of making ASEAN a people-centered community. This has proved that the widely held cynicism that views ASEAN as merely a forum for the Southeast Asia’s government elites is baseless.

But what does this new approach really mean? What then is the role played by the government elites and notably the ASEAN Secretariat? And, with a very specific interest, does will the new agenda have any impact on Papua?

Indonesia’s agenda of people-driven ASEAN aims at two central points. First, as Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa contends, ASEAN should address Indonesian interests and bring benefits to the people. The beneficiaries are the people, and no longer the states’ elites.

Second, in line with Marty’s statement, Indonesia’s director general for ASEAN Djauhari Oratmangun emphasizes that Indonesian people groups, including in the business sector, academics, civil society groups and ordinary individuals, would likely become significant players. In other words, instead of being passive spectators, Indonesian people and the peoples of ASEAN member states should actively participate in making ASEAN truly a community of and for the people of Southeast Asian countries.

The people-centered ASEAN agenda, however, is not new. Asia and ASEAN history has plenty of evidence of various kinds of businesses that have operated beyond territorial borders for decades or even before ASEAN was founded. Cross-border movements of agricultural and industrial products (legally or illegally), capital and investment, workers, and even religious propagation, have made ASEAN one of the most dynamic regional associations.

Their movements have contributed significantly to local, national and regional economic growth. As the media reported tens of thousands of migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara in Malaysia sent home US$1.1 million in remittance in 2009 alone.

Trade volume and value among ASEAN country members is growing steadily. Cultural interaction and understanding is developing. Positive growth is also found in the education sector shown by the increasing number of students and exchanging scholars across national borders within ASEAN.

The story is not all positive, though. Illegal migrants, smuggling, and various kinds of organized crime are also part of such regionalization. Many people move across cross-national borders without proper conditions and legalities. Not even sometimes with good intentions. This fact has partly contributed to the fact that conflict and insecurity in a country is likely to worsen because of “bad neighbors”, to borrow one of Michael Brown’s triggering factors of internal conflict.

There is no question that in the newly proposed agenda, the ASEAN country members and the ASEAN Secretariat are likely to focus on handling the unexpected practices by setting up tougher regulations while at the same time encouraging people to constructively participate in ASEAN.

It is in this context that we raise a crucial question: Is there any chance for civil society groups to help resolve the problems in Papua under Indonesia’s agenda of a people-centered ASEAN?

The problems in Papua are not limited to independence or separatist claims made by a small group of indigenous Papuans, which the Indonesian government deems a non-negotiable issue. There are many issues that civil society groups are likely to be constructively engaged in to seek peaceful, democratic and just solutions in Papua.

Central to these are human rights problems. Different groups of local Papuans are still prone to continuing civil and political rights abuses, whereas the long-standing demands for investigating and trying human rights violations in the past have not been properly addressed. A number of political activists remain in jail as political prisoners without fair trial.

Some tribal groups are still grieving for their social and economic rights and cultural rights as well. As more and more business organizations — either national or international, run by civilian or non-civilian units with or without legal permits — come in and compete to extract the rich natural resources of Papua, the more likely local people will suffer by losing their land and cultural values.

Not only are they being marginalized by the large influx of people either from Indonesia’s other provinces or foreign countries, indigenous Papuans are likely to be alienated or uprooted from their sacred land and environment.

Securing national integration, protecting economic interests, nationalizing different ethnic groups, and developing the region are the common political and legal arguments used to justify the entire “integration and development policies” in Papua which unfortunately have caused different local Papuans to be deprived of their basic rights.

There is no doubt that making ASEAN a people-driven organization also means giving space for civil society groups to work in Papua. Human rights activists, national and international journalists, and developing and empowering NGOs need to have access to visit and work safely and assist people in need in the region. This would be the very first instance for Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN.

We highly appreciate the Indonesian government’s initiatives, promises and consistency in leading ASEAN by encouraging people to get benefits and to play a crucial role in the New ASEAN agenda. The Do What You Say You Will Do (DWYSYWD) formula (Kouzes & Posner, 2003) is one of the basic principles of international leadership. It surely will not be another lie.

The writer is director of Parahyangan Centre for International Studies (PACIS), Parahyangan University, Bandung.

Source: The Jakarta Post


1 Comment

Filed under Development, Economy, Papua, Separatism

PNG launches border crackdown operation

Papua New Guinea’s government has deployed a joint security operation to destroy alleged free West Papua activist training camps along the PNG-Indonesia border.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea have launched a massive operation to stop the illegal flow of people and goods across the country’s border with Indonesia.

Illegal activities in Vanimo along its side of the border pose a national security threat to its sovereignty.

Based in Vanimo, near the border with the Indonesia’s most eastern province of Papua, the operations involves police officers, soldiers and other government departments.

The operation, code named Sunset Merona, was launched last weekend to deal with people smuggling, gun trafficking, arms trade and resource poaching and threats on the lives of citizens.

The operation is aimed at reinforcing and maintaining state authority at a very strategic location and to renew confidence in border systems and procedures.

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Sir Michael Somare says the joint forces security crackdown on the border with Indonesia was launched at the request of the people of West Sepik province.(*wpnn)

1 Comment

Filed under Military, Papua, Separatism

China to invest in Papua

The company will invest up to a billion dollars

Vice President Boediono offers the chance to invest in the Mamberamo River power plant in Papua to Chinese investors.

“The vice president wanted investors not only to exploit the natural resources but also build infrastructure to be integrated with other industries,” Yopie Hidayat said after a meeting with a delegation from the State Development and Investment Corporation, the Chinese government’s investment arm.

Meanwhile, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) meet with Chinese-owned Metal China Corporation (MCC) to discuss investments in mining in Papua.

“They are aggressively investing in the mining sector for nickel and iron to support Chinese growth,” Bappenas first secretary Syahrial Loetan said on Saturday as quoted by business news portal.

MCC’s investment plan would be firmed up in 2012.

Besides mining and power plant, according to media reports, Chinese companies are also interested in building seaports and airports in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.*(wpnn)

1 Comment

Filed under Development, Economy, Papua

Indonesia rights body reports torture in Papua

The National Human Rights Commission has submitted to President Yudhoyono a report on its investigations

Indonesia’s top human rights body on Thursday urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take action against “serious” rights violations by security forces in Papua region, the most eastern provinces of Indonesia.

The National Human Rights Commission has submitted to Yudhoyono a report on its investigations, including alleged torture of Papuans by soldiers in Puncak Jaya district last May, its chairman Ifdhal Kasim told AFP.

The footage, posted on YouTube, shows soldiers applying a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and threatening another with a knife as they interrogate them over the location of a weapons cache.

“Our investigations found that the military had committed serious human rights violations and we ask for those responsible to be brought to justice,” Kasim said.

“Military (personnel) carried out torture and cruel and inhuman treatment which demeans Papuans,” he added.

Kasim said the commission was told by high-ranking military officials that an “investigation is under way and a hearing will be held end January”.

Source: AFP

Leave a comment

Filed under Military, Papua, Separatism

China to build ports in Papua

Chinese representatives and Indonesian government officials will discuss port investment opportunities in Indonesia

Nine Chinese companies are interested in building seaports and airports in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, according to media reports.

Representatives of the companies will meet with Indonesia’s government officials and will be presented with possible investment opportunities in the Papua and West Papua regions.

Indonesia’s Transportation Minister, Freddi Numberi, told reporters that construction of basic infrastructure of the country’s future ports in the Papua region has already started.

Numberi added that the meeting between Indonesia’s government officials and the Chinese representatives will include discussions on Indonesia’s plans on promoting public-private partnerships.

Numberi says that he hopes China will be able to participate in the development of the region.

Source: portworld

Leave a comment

Filed under Development, Economy, Papua