Monthly Archives: March 2013

Police identifies civilian helicopter shooters in Papua

Police chief of Papua province, Ins.Gen. Tito Karnavian said the police had identified the perpetrators behind the civilian helicopter shootings on Tuesday (26/03) in Puncak Senyum, Papua. He said they were likely the armed civilian group of Free Papua Organization (OPM) which is led by Purom Okiman Wenda.

“According to a preliminary investigation, it is strongly believed that the shooters were the armed group of OPM. The area has been identified as the group’s playground for quite a while now,” Tito, former police counterterrorism special detachment commander, said on Wednesday (27.03).

He added that there had been growing suspicion that the shootings were also part of the group’s strategy to put blame on the police and the military due to the existence of a joint command post near the scene.

“They want the civilians to think that it was either the police or the military behind the shootings,” he said.

Separately, Cendrawasih Military Command Commander Maj. Gen. Christiant Zebua said he regretted the shootings, saying that whoever had masterminded the attack was heartless and irrational.

“Let alone the fact that the helicopter was transporting two Christian missionaries who carry out humanitarian missions in the region. This just makes the shootings look even worse,” he said.

An early report stated that a helicopter owned by the Helivida Foundation, en route to Wamena with two Christian missionary passengers, was shot at by OPM in Puncak Senyum on Tuesday. No victims were reported but there were two bullet holes found on a window near the cockpit.

Source: the Jakarta Post

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Papua development program aims to lure the young back to farming

As with many areas in Indonesia and around the world, people in Papua move from rural areas to the city. However, having lived close to their land for thousands of years their competitive streak in setting up small businesses lags behind that of migrants who have for generations had the skills to run businesses, according to Rio Pangemanan, Oxfam program manager on the Papua Enterprise Development Program.

In no corner of the town of Wamena will one see a shop that is owned or run by indigenous Papuans. Indigenous women with their noken (traditional Papuan woven bags) hanging from their heads to their backs sell sweet potatoes or vegetables on a cloth in the street markets. Young strong-limbed Papuan men push rickshaws, some even in bare feet. Others wander around the markets, intoxicated from glue-sniffing.

The UK based international development organization Oxfam is the international NGO that is allowed to operate in the province. Working with local partners, Oxfam has been supporting local farmers in five regencies in Papua in developing their farms and markets.

Oxfam supports the farmers according to the local needs and potential. For example, in Yapen Island, Oxfam has supported the Wamanuam Be Kitabono Yawa (WMY) Cooperative in cultivating vanilla beans. In Jayawijaya regency, the NGO has supported the Independent Business Foundation (Yapum) in cultivating and distributing sweet potatoes. Meanwhile in Paniai and Nabire Oxfam has supported their local partners in helping coffee farmers and in Jayapura, cacao farmers.

Oxfam’s contract ends next year, but Rio hopes that the NGO will get an extension for its programs. Rio said of the vanilla program in Serui that vanilla vines needed three years to produce beans, so new farmers would only have their first harvest in 2014. Rio said that by the end of 2014, he hoped the cooperative would be able to run independently.

Meanwhile in Wamena, Rio estimates that it will take two years for their partners to be independent in terms of management. He said that if the local government could take part in transportation and distribution of the produce, Oxfam’s partners, such as Yapum, would be able to operate independently once their management capacity had been strengthened.

In his office in Serui, Apolos Mora, the head of WMY cooperative said that for years vanilla trees grew in the wild in forests in Yapen. The Dutch brought the seeds when they opened coffee and chocolate farms on the island in the 1950s. “Before they [the Dutch] could teach the local people to cultivate vanilla, there was the transfer of power to Indonesia,” Apolos said.

One day in 2008, Apolos was reading about vanilla in the bookstore and an “Aha!” moment hit him as he realized that these plants were the ones that grew wild in the forest. When Madagascar, the largest vanilla pod producer in the world, had poor harvests, the price of vanilla pods skyrocketed to Rp 3 million (US$309) per kilogram, Apolos said. Apolos then decided to cultivate vanilla vines and trained the farmers joining his cooperative to plant vanilla too. He sells the pods to Manado, where they are exported to Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Recently, the price for dried vanilla pods was Rp 115,000 per kilogram.

PEDP manager, Rio Pangemanan, said that Oxfam supported programs according to the characteristics of the area. The island and coastal areas are more developed than the mountain areas due to ease of access to other islands in Indonesia. The mountain areas meanwhile are more isolated. This results in a different variety of crops that can be profitable to produce. While farmers in Serui can sell their crops in Manado, in Wamena farmers can only sell locally.

In Jayawijaya, Oxfam supports farmers revitalizing their sweet potato farms. Partnering with Yapum, they have developed 20 sweet potato collecting points in Jayawijaya that will distribute the crops to the markets in Wamena. Rio said that these collecting points had become a place for farmer’s advocacy and education to motivate the community to return to their farms instead of leaving for the city.

Local NGOs such as Yapum and WMY cooperative say that it is not always easy advocating for farmers to cultivate vanilla beans or sweet potatoes. Farmers’ programs in Papua are often project-based, in which farmers are given money to open rice paddies or fishponds. Once the funds dry up, the projects become neglected.

Eli Tabuni, the secretary of one of the sweet potato collecting points was one of the farmers who questioned the program. “This [sweet potato farming] is our culture, why are you making a project out of this?” he asked Yapum and Oxfam during their visit there. He said that many of the programs were only temporary and were not really helpful.

Kiloner Wenda, Oxfam Sweet Potato project officer in Jayawijaya, answered Eli in the Lani language with another question. “Where are the young people now who will work on the farms?” he said. “If we don’t start now, then our culture will slowly disappear,” he said.

Rio said that the projects aimed to support indigenous Papuan farmers in developing their business sense and opening their access to markets. In Wamena, women carrying their sweet potatoes from their villages to the market have to pay for transportation to the market for their heavy bags.

Yapum encourages them to sell the potatoes for Rp 5,000 per kilogram, and they only need to drop their crops at the collecting points. This way, the women did not have to travel far to the markets and could save on transportation, Rio said.

In Serui, the program has managed to attract young farmers, but in Wamena, whether the program will succeed in bringing the young back to the farms is yet to be seen. For the kids that like to play in the farm, their dreams are to be pilots and teachers, they say. But they will always love eating sweet potatoes.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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Indonesian military to build roads in Papua

Indonesia’s Government is to use the military to build 1,520 kilometres of new roads in less than two years in the harsh terrain of Papua and West Papua provinces.

The Presidential Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B) has turned to the military because no private contractors have the ability to do the job using the allocated budget.

According to the unit, the massive infrastructure project will open the isolated provinces at a cost of Rp 1.5 trillion (US$154 million), also with the help of the Ministry of Public Works and local administrations.

A Presidential Decree is expected in the next few months authorising the military to do such work, clearing the way for more than 1,000 army engineers to get to work.

An Indonesian official says the military’s deployment is aimed at speeding up the process at a relatively low cost, as it is not seeking any financial profit.

While the annual budget for the provinces is estimated at about 4 billion US dollars, officials say much of this goes to cover transportation costs and inflated prices resulting from a lack of roads and ports.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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PPI Netherlands Recommendation Statement on Papua

RECOMMENDATION STATEMENT: TOWARD PAPUA PEACE AND PAPUA NON-VIOLENCE CONVERGENCY

This recommendation statement is made in order to convey the aspirations and ideas of Indonesian students in the Netherlands, who joining in the Indonesian Student Association in the Netherlands (PPI Belanda), as a concern over Papua, and to be submitted to the Head of the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), Bambang Darmono.

The PPI’s recommendations are as follows:
1. PPI Netherlands urges all parties to work together to build a peaceful Papua. As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out that true peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.
2. PPI Netherlands promotes impartially law enforcement in Papua, particularly to them who do not want peace in Papua. Justice is not only addressed to the separatist or pro-integration groups, but also to a certain Indonesia’s parties who take benefit from the continuation violence in Papua.
3. PPI Netherlands urges the Indonesian government to engage in peaceful dialogue, do heart-to-heart, build trust and confidence in Papuans, and convince Indonesian people that the government is serious in resolving the problems in Papua.
4. PPI Netherlands sees that one of the problems in Papua is the presence of Freeport Indonesia mining company that does not have much effect to the prosperity of Papuans. There are some problems between Freeport Company and the workers that need government’s attention, such as on salary, pension, and welfare negotiations. The government should be concerned in amending Labor Law, particularly in protecting the welfare and promoting the rights of the workers in foreign companies.
5. PPI Netherlands promotes Papuans’ basic rights and works for sovereignty over natural resources in Papua.
6. PPI Netherlands encourages the results of the Conference of Peace in Papua on 5-7 July 2011 and highlights the importance of Papua Peace agenda.
7. PPI Netherlands considers that there is a problem of identity crisis in Papua case. The question is how to make the Papuans feel as a part of Indonesia and the other Indonesians outside Papua also feel that Papua is really an integral part of Indonesia.

Den Haag, February 28th, 2013
PPI Belanda,
Secretary General,
Ridwansyah Yusuf Achmad

Read bahasa Indonesia version.

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Indonesia: Signs of new thinking on Papua

By Gary Hogan — The 21 February slaying of eight soldiers in two separate incidents by anti-government rebels in Indonesia’s troubled Papua province sent shock waves through Jakarta’s presidential palace, as well as the country’s national defence headquarters in nearby Cilangkap.

Soldiers killed in Papua

Soldiers killed in Papua

It was the largest number of military security forces killed in a single day in the restive province, which borders Papua New Guinea.

The shock was felt as far away as Canberra, since Jakarta’s adroit handling of its separatist problem in Papua is crucial to our ability to progress bilateral relations with Indonesia.

Australia’s ambassador in Jakarta was the first foreign official to extend condolences and to reaffirm Australia’s unequivocal commitment to Indonesian sovereignty over Papua. Canberra knows it would be impossible to engage Jakarta in a comprehensive strategic partnership without a mature and unfettered relationship with Indonesia’s powerful defence forces, Tentara Nasional Indonesia or TNI.

Any undisciplined retaliatory conduct by TNI elements in Papua, such as random reprisals for the eight deaths, would weigh heavily on the current upward trajectory in both our defence and broader bilateral relations. Fortunately, there is cause for optimism that, at least at the top, TNI might adopt some fresh thinking about Papua and the international ramifications of an ongoing cycle of violence.

Nobody is more aware of the potential for an arbitrary, heavy-handed overreaction by security forces in Papua to tarnish Indonesia’s international image than President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He has done a great deal in the past eight years as president to try to improve Indonesia’s global standing on human rights, investing in security sector reform and attempting to consolidate democracy and economic prosperity.

In Papua, Yudhoyono has promised a new approach based on building a stronger, fairer and more inclusive economy. His key man on the ground is retired general Bambang Darmono, a respected and experienced soldier and diplomat who played an important role in the successful Aceh peace process.

But Darmono, who the president has charged with overseeing a fast-track development plan for Papua, faces an uphill battle. Indonesia lacks a clear strategy for pacifying Papua, partly because Jakarta focuses on economics when many Papuans cry for political dialogue.

Moreover, the search for a solution is frustrated by poor coordination and an absence of imagination among government departments, factionalism and corruption in Papua itself, where vested interest is fueled by the prospect of limitless resource wealth, and a reactionary streak in some Jakarta elites, who refuse to even countenance the term ‘indigenous’ because it implies special rights.

Fallout from the 21 February shootings is still on the cards. The Free Papua Movement (OPM) is proving itself a learning organisation. Recent rebel actions demonstrate an ability to conduct reconnaissance, detect patterns, use intelligence effectively in planning and exploit poor operational security. The OPM now appears capable of moving beyond its basic hit and run tactics of the past. Incidents like the two which killed eight Indonesian soldiers last month could continue and even escalate.

In dealing with the Papua problem, Indonesia has occasionally demonstrated a disconnection between operational directions from Jakarta and tactical actions in the field. This will need to improve under TNI’s emerging leaders, and there are promising signs it might.

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia’s Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia’s Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012.

Source: The Interpreter

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