Marchers in Honiara in support of West Papua’s bid to join the MSG, June 19. The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) granted the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) observer membership during a summit meeting in Honiara on June 26. It also upgraded Indonesia’s membership from observer to associate.
The toll of Australia's bipartisan anti-refugee policies in death and suffering is rising. In the past fortnight more than 3000 Rohingya refugees from Arakan state in Burma (Myanmar) have turned up on the shores of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, having either swum ashore or been rescued by local fishing boat crews. An estimated 7000 more are trapped on boats that have been described as “floating coffins”.
The brutal determination of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to kill two Australian citizens comes as no surprise to West Papuan independence activists, who say they share Australia's pain. A West Papuan independence activist, who has been in exile for 12 years after escaping the Indonesian-controlled province, has called on the Australian government to look on “in sympathy [and] in pain” for his own people, who are being “killed like animals” after the execution of two Australians.
A global day of action on April 29 involved protests in several cities to call on the Indonesian government to allow free and open access into occupied West Papua for international journalists, humanitarian agencies and human rights groups. Melbourne rally co-organiser said Matt Gale said: “West Papua is one of the world’s most isolated conflict spots. For decades, indigenous activists campaigning for their rights have been arrested, disappeared, tortured and killed.
Massacre is an explosive theatre work about the politics and violence of East Timor. Produced by Stone/Castro (Australia) and Colectivo 84 (Portugal), it features John Romao as “Timor” and Paulo Castro as “East”. They work with “weapons of grotesque, sarcasm and a thrash metal soundtrack to create a scenic, hypnotic and dangerous game. The mutant metamorphosis of Australia, Indonesia and Portugal make for an in-your-face confrontation to the East Timor crisis.”
A video released by Minority Rights Group on April 8 shows the aftermath of the “Paniai massacre” in West Papua in December last year, bringing to light Indonesia's human rights abuses. On December 8,Indonesian security forces shot dead four protesters — Simon Degei, 18; Otianus Gobai, 18; Alfius Youw, 17; Yulian Yeimo, 17 — and wounded dozens of others in Enarotali, Paniai district, in West Papua.
The left-wing People's Democratic Party (PRD) held its eighth congress in Jakarta from March 24-26. This was the first time its congress was held openly. The open congress marks an important new stage of development for the party, which has a history of underground organising dating back to the era of the Suharto dictatorship that was overthrown in 1998.
A new group has been established to campaign for women’s rights in Indonesia. In December, more than 100 women met in Jakarta to launch Indonesian Women’s Action – Kartini (API-K), which has begun campaigning for women’s rights in the workplace, home and society. Participants came from 32 cities across Indonesia. They included women who are involved in existing women’s networks, students, workers and urban poor. They spent three days discussing issues facing women in economics, politics and culture.
This statement was released by Benny Wenda, Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, on March 21. *** It brings me much sadness and grief to report that 2 days ago on March 19, 4 more of my people were shot by the Indonesian police. One was killed and at least 3 more were arrested, all simply for attending a peaceful fundraiser in Yahukimo, West Papua.
The statement below was released on the Facebook page of the Free West Papua Campaign. *** We are filled with grief today to learn that a 17-year-old West Papuan youth has been found murdered by suspected members of the Australian-trained Indonesian special forces group Kopassus.
Indonesia is supposed to have a new liberal leadership with the election of new president Jodo Widodo, the first president since the Suharto dictatorship was overthrown in 198 to be elected from outside the Javanese military/political elite. But the Australian public, in the furore over the fate of two the Australians and others facing execution, are getting a glimpse of the stance of Widodo — and other influential Indonesian leaders — towards human rights, justice and compassion.
The impending execution in Indonesia of two Australian drug couriers — Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan – has focused Australian media attention on the horrors of capital punishment. Their lawyers, families and supporters, particularly artist Ben Quilty, have ensured that the two have been humanised.
On February 4 a coalition uniting the resistance of Indonesian-occupied West Papua submitted an application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, two French journalists arrested by Indonesian authorities on August 6 while reporting on West Papua's independence movement, will face trial on October 20, AFP reported on October 14. Despite a petition signed by more than 8800 people, the journalists will go on trial in a local court of West Papua for “abusive use of entry visas”.
Indonesian authorities are pushing for two French journalists arrested in West Papua to face trial and up to 20 years jail. Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois, journalists working for French media company Arte TV, were in West Papua filming a documentary about human rights. They were arrested in Wamena on August 6. Indigenous leader Areki Wanimbo, who was interviewed by them, was also arrested.
Joko Widodo, or “Jokowi” as he is popularly known, was confirmed by Indonesia’s electoral commission on July 22 as the winner of the presidential elections. Jokowi defeated, sacked Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto, by 57% to 43% of the nearly 130 million direct votes cast on July 9. Prabowo has sought to challenge the result. However, supporters of Jokowi, whose campaign aroused enthusiasm among ordinary people hoping for change from elite-dominated politics, are intent on defending what they see as a chance for significantly more democratic reform.