Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bush Broadcaster Keeps Remote Papuans Connected

West Papuan radio presenter Kathe Vince Dimara is a firm believer in the power of information.

Kathe was born and raised in Kurima, in the isolated district of Yahukimo in central Papua, where about 50 percent of the population of nearly 11,000 is illiterate.

With almost no communication infrastructure available, Yahukimo’s geographical landscape, mainly made up of mountains and rivers, makes it difficult to get information to residents.

Kathe was among the few residents of her village to receive a formal education, and even more unusually, went on to study communications at university in Jayapura.

Kathe took a job as a reporter and announcer for Pikon Ane, a community radio station that provides information to the residents of Yahukimo.

Pikon Ane, or “the sound of Pikon” (a traditional musical instrument made of bamboo), was established in 2007 by radio news agency KBR68H and PPMN, a media development association, with funding from the Media Development Loan Fund.

During the launch of the station, as many as 500 radio sets were distributed among 52 subdistricts. This was a breakthrough for a remote region such as Yahukimo, Kathe said.

“People were very happy when we had a radio station built in the area. They would gather together to listen to the information on the radio,” she said. “They were even willing to save money to buy their own radios so they could tune in at home with their family. They have become more aware of the importance of information in their lives.”

Pikon Ane’s programs range from entertainment to news, talk shows and community service advertisements. The local news is collected by the station’s reporters, while national news is taken from prerecorded materials from Jakarta, the Internet and national newspapers.

“Information on what is happening in Jakarta, for example, is received late by us, but it is still worth listening to,” Kathe said. “It is great to see how people in our region are enthusiastic, longing for information. Despite their limitations, they want to change their lives for the better.”

Four months after Pikon Ane started airing, however, it suddenly stopped. Residents were so disappointed, and they started to come to the radio station to ask for the programs to be put back on the air.

“It was not easy at that time, because we were used to having someone to direct us,” Kathe said.

About eight months later, Kathe was asked to relaunch the station, taking charge of both the management and programs. She now works not only as the station’s director but also as a reporter and announcer for Pikon Ane.

“It was as if we had to start from the very beginning, because we wanted to start a new chapter,” she said.

Today, Pikon Ane airs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., serving more than 70,000 listeners around Yahukimo. The talk shows cover a variety of topics, including health, education and the environment, with a particular emphasis on farming, Kathe said.

She brainstorms ideas for topics to be covered based on what she sees in the everyday lives of the people in Yahukimo. When she sees an issues that she believes deserves attention, she will invite people with knowledge of the subject to appear on a talk show. Guests include people from government institutions.

“We talk about topics ranging from things often take for granted, like the importance of washing your hands to techniques on how to have a better harvest, and from the price of vegetables in the market to the spread of HIV/AIDS. This is the kind of information that people need,” Kathe said.

She said more people in the district were now going to community health centers for regular check-ups, which she credited to the effect of the station.

As for education, Pikon Ane has also helped reopen a number of schools that had been left idle for some time.

“Once we had a talk about a school in one area that had no teachers. It turned out that there were also other schools with similar problems,” Kathe said. “We heard about it from listeners who came to the radio station and asked for the information to be broadcast.”

Farmers also benefit from broadcasts on farming techniques, broadening the varieties of vegetables they grow, which can diversify their incomes.

The work of Kathe and her team has not gone unnoticed. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) recently recognized her achievements by awarding her the S. K. Trimurti Award for female reporters and activists.

But Kathe said her work was not over yet, as there were plenty more that still needed to be done in empowering the people of Yahukimo .

“Human resources are a big challenge, especially for radio stations looking for people to carry on the work in the future,” she said. “I want to provide training for local high school graduates to become reporters. One of my dreams is to see this radio station grow by empowering local young people.”

Kathe said that she had little time for her personal life, with most of her waking hours devoted to Pikon Ane, but she’s not complaining. “I was born and raised here in Kurima. I feel that I owe something to the land and this is all I can give back,” she said.

“My dream is to see the people of Papua live a better life.”

Source: the Jakarta Globe

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PLN to build hydropower plant in Wamena

State electricity firm PT PLN has disclosed a plan to build a 50 megawatt hydropower plant (PLTA) in Wamena, Papua.

“Wamena is an ideal location for a PLTA. The city of Wamena is very big. On that basis, PLN will build PLTA Baliem 2,” PLN managing director Dahlan Iskan said on Tuesday evening (16/8).

Dahlan said the construction would start next year and was expected to be completed in five or six years.

He added that the project would cost Rp 3 trillion (US$351 million) in total, and that PLN would first use internal funds to finance the project before seeking third-party support.

Dahlan said PLN was planning to build another hydropower plant with the same capacity in Wamena after the completion of the first project.

Source: the Jakarta Post

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Experts: Indonesia needs new approach in Papua

Indonesia must change the way it handles problems in Papua if the nation wants the international community to respect its rights over its westernmost territory, say activists and experts.

The longer the problems linger, the bigger the push for separatism, they agreed.

“Indonesia has a chance to demonstrate its political maturity in these matters,” New Zealand lawmaker and Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said.

Locke added that Indonesia has made greater progress as a democracy and deserved recognition for its achievements and leadership of ASEAN.

Muridan S. Widjojo, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), agreed that there must be a change in Jakarta’s approach to Papua.

“The conflict has been going on for over 50 years. We need to pursue a better dialogue between Jakarta and West Papua,” he said.

University of Indonesia law professor Hikmahanto Juwana disagreed on efforts to contest the Act of Free Choice 1969 internationally in purpose demanding for UN review.

“The people of West Papua already exercised their right to self- determination in the UN supervised Act of Free Choice 1969.”

“Indonesia is a heterogeneous country made up of former Dutch colonies, which include West Papua,” Hikmahanto said, adding that the discussion should focus on the welfare of West Papuans instead of pushing for independence.(*WPNN)

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Timor Leste Police broke down student demonstration against Indonesia

Timor Leste Police broke down a demonstration conducted by a group of Timorese students in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Dili on the 66th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day.

The students did the demonstration in purpose supporting West Papuan separatist movement.

Timor-Leste Police (PNTL) arrested three of the protesters who are currently studying at Timor-Lorosae National University, UNTL.

Police arrested the activists after the Indonesia Embassy asked the PNTL to stop the demonstration.

Timor-Leste has a strict law on demonstrations which among other things requires four days notice and bans them within 100 yards of a government or diplomatic building.(*wpnn)

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OPM tried to disrupt the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day

Free Papua Organzation (OPM) conducted series of gunshots in Papua during the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day. The shootings occurred in several areas, ranging from Paniai to Puncak Jaya, on Wednesday, August 17.

As hoisting flag ceremony was carried out at Paniai Regency Office, Maddi District, a series of gunfires were heard causing people who attended the event to get their nerves.

Paniai Regent, Naftali Yogi said the OPM members were willing to disrupt day. “They had planned to disrupt the Independence Day as a few days earlier there was information that there would be an interruption during the flag flying ceremony,” said the regent.

He went on to say that the OPM was trying to spoil the Independence Day celebration by entering the city and fired a series of shots. “This has to do with the schedule on last August 2 in London, UK, where lawyers held a congress on West Papua,” said Naftali.

The Independence Day celebration in Papua also saw a a number of Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag flying ceremonies in as many places as Tanah Hitam Abepura, Jayapura city and Pikhe Mount, Wamena, Jayawijaya.

Gunfires also took place in Moenamani, Dogiyai Regency, causing dozens of trucks carrying basic food and passengers heading to Paniai to be caught in idle lines in Dogiyai. Bram Mauri, Commander of the Moenamani Police in Dogiyai District, said trucks and cars had been put on hold in front of Moenamani police station since Tuesday night due to the unlikely security conditions.

“Exchange of fire took place around the street of district border between the Dogiyai and Paniai, precisely in Madi District, Paniai. It went on from 1 a.m. local time until morning. As a result, dozens of vehicles transporting food were held back,” he said.

One of the group members was shot dead by the security officers. Meanwhile a local motorbike taxi driver was also hit by an arrow in his arm.

Bram Mauri said, the group was helmed by John Yogi, son of the OPM Commander of Paniai region, Tadius Yogi.

Papua Peace Network coordinator Father Neles Tebay said currently Paniai residents in Maddi District were in fear and many fled to the mountains. Some stores were shut down as rumor saying that Tadius Yogi-led National Liberation Army of Free Papua would raise arms against the Indonesian Military (TNI) was in circulation.

The exchange of fire between Indonesian Military and National Police personnel and Free Papua Movement guerillas in Paniai, lasted from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. local time. Consequently, in addition to one killed OPM member and a wounded motorbike taxi driver, two policemen were also injured.

Morning Star flag flying also took place in Wamena. Papua Police spokesman Chief Comm. Wachyono acknowledged this. “There was indeed Morning Star flag flying in Wamena,” he said.

Source: VIVANews

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Indonesia Will Protect Its Sovereignty

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reinforced on Tuesday (16/8) the importance of protecting the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia amid increasing security issues in volatile Papua.

“Regarding security disturbances in Papua, the government will be strict in guaranteeing public order and the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said during his state of the nation speech at the House of Representatives.

“Recognizing the complexity of the problem, the government has instituted policies to ensure that the development in Papua would achieve targets such as justice, security, peace and prosperity.”

The statement comes in the wake of increasing reports of encounters between the military and separatist groups in the country’s easternmost province, as well as the publication in Australia of leaked military documents that indicate a vast surveillance operation.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch said the documents, obtained by Australia’s Fairfax newspapers, reveal the “deep military paranoia” that exists in Jakarta toward any kind of free political expression by Papua’s indigenous Melanesian majority.
The watchdog further said that while Indonesia denies allegations of widespread human rights violations by the armed forces in Papua, it refuses to allow foreign journalists and rights worker to visit the area to conduct independent inquiries.

The military has played down the report, stating that it was manipulated to disrupt the “currently improving relationship” between the military and indigenous Papuans.

Further in his speech, Yudhoyono praised the military for its success in maintaining the unity of Indonesia but at the same time reminded them to uphold the principles of democracy and respect human rights.

“We are strengthening the tradition of the TNI [Indonesian Military], which ensures that all elements of the TNI are consistent in following the government’s political policies, which upholds the principles of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and abides by national laws and ratified international conventions,” he said.

Security issues aside, Yudhoyono said the government has given the Papua administration the authority to run its regional government with its own resources.

“In the last five years, the government has also carried out fiscal decentralization to directly support the acceleration of development in Papua,” he said.

“Papua is also one of the Indonesian economic corridors in the Master Plan to accelerate and extend Indonesian economic development. The government’s policy that stresses economic approach could hopefully increase the welfare of the Papuan people.”

He said the key to developing Papua as the Indonesian eastern gate is to do it by heart.

Source: the Jakarta Globe

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OPM Attacks Indonesia Papua’s Police

Komofa District Police, Paniai Regency, Papua was attacked by a group of Free Papua Organization (OPM) members on Tuesday (16/8), at around 1 a.m. local time. No casualties were found, yet two firearms belonging to policemen were seized by the attackers.

Paniai Police Chief, AKBP Jannus Siregar, confirmed the incident. “A group of around 30 people attacked the Komofa police. They used firearms and traditional weapons such as arrows and machetes. There were no casualties, but two SKS-type firearms were taken away by the attackers,” said the police chief on Tuesday morning .

As many as 10 police officers on duty at the police station were surprised by the coming of a dozen of people, who then circled the police station and fired weapons.

“As it was dark due to lack of lighting [in a remote area], the officers did not fight back, especially as they fired shots. The OPM then seized two guns from the police station,” he explained.

After seizing the weapons, the group then fled in the darkness back into the forest. “It was impossible for the officers to fight or chase them, because the situation was completely dark, because the location was in the middle of the woods. They also used firearms of, among others, SS1 and Moser, and ready to shoot if the officers fought back,” he said.

The condition of Komofa Police, situated quite far from Paniai’s capital Enarotali, or 3 hours by speed boat plus 1.5 hour ride by motorcycle, is now back to normal. However, all officers were on guard.

Source: VIVANews

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