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Leader calls for New Zealand to stand with West Papua

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Benny Wenda (centre) with audience members at AUT – Te Wahanui

Jayapura, Jubi – An independence leader is advocating for New Zealand to join the fight to free West Papua.

Benny Wenda, an independence leader for West Papua and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign spoke at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) last night. During his address, he talked about the country’s struggle for freedom and human rights abuse over the last 50 years.

The Indonesian government took over West Papua months after the country was given independence from the Netherlands at the end of 1961 in its mission to claim former Dutch colonies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Wenda  told the audience his experience of living in West Papua – his mother was beaten and the Indonesian military raped his aunt in front of him in 1977.

However, Mr Wenda shared how he managed to escape from prison in 2002 after being arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations. He said the land was being destroyed by the Indonesian military, causing deforestation, which is the West Papuans’ source for food.

“They don’t care about our environment, our nature. They only care about how to get rich…If we don’t act, the forest will be destroyed,” said Mr Wenda.

West Papua is located 500km north of Australia and a close neighbour of the Pacific, New Zealand in particular.

“Australia and New Zealand need West Papua…we are the gatekeeper and for security reasons, West Papua is very important,” said Mr Wenda

He encouraged everyone who attended the meeting to spread the message about the injustice through the Free West Papua Facebook page.

Director of the Pacific Media Centre at AUT, Professor David Robie, said when he attended the World Media Freedom day in Indonesia last week, the authorities attempted to gag discussion about West Papua.

“Whatever happens in West Papua is going to have repercussions for the rest of the region…it’s important to know of issues happening in our own region,” said Professor Robie.

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty said New Zealand needed to join the other seven Pacific Islands urging for change, and make it eight.

One attendee, Auckland University student Georgia Thomson, admitted she did not know much about West Papua before the meeting, but said she wanted to learn what she as an individual could do to help.

“I thought it exposed people to a lot of information you wouldn’t otherwise find in your news media and then, of course, you wouldn’t know to look for it,” said Miss Thomson.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee was unavailable to comment on New Zealand’s relationship with West Papua. (*)

Te Wahanui

Environment

The story of illegal logging from the forests of Papua

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Illegal timbers – an illustration. -Tempo.co

Jayapura, Jubi – Tempo journalist Avit Hidayat shared his experience in doing an investigation about the circulation of illegal timbers from Papua’s forest as a resource person for the discussion about “ Papua’s Forest and Logging Disputes”.

Auriga Nusantara, Eyes on the Forest, Tempo Institute, Free Press Unlimited, and Tempo Media Grup held this forum in Jakarta, Monday, 28 January 2019 and attended by other resource persons, such as Laode M. Syarif (KPK commissionaire), Rasio Ridho Sani (Gakkum-KLHK), Hilman Nugroho (PHPL-KLHK) Muhamad Kosar (JPIK), Timotius Murib (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and Papuan stakeholders from indigenous peoples, Papuan Parliament and Papua Provincial Forestry Office.

In the discussion, Avit said it is essential for the public to know about the situation in Papua. “The tropical forests in Papua are the last (forests) in Indonesia, while the Merbau wood which is the Papuan endemic trees have been becoming the target of the international market,” he said. 

Furthermore, Avid said he conducted the investigation in many different places and interviewed many resource persons; and in Papua, the Tempo team went further to the logging sites. There, they witnessed how the workers who come from other regions carried out the illegal logging activity. They also met transporters, woodmasters, drivers, and logging company staffs.

“And the most important thing is we met the supplier. The supplier is a mediator of the logging companies who play a role to bargain with ‘ondo’—the tribal chief–for compensation. For example, if in a village there are common indigenous lands, the supplier comes to measuring the areas, and give payment to indigenous peoples.”

In their investigation, the Tempo team also met the owners of a logging company who later admitted about the illegal logging activity.  However, they called it the unregistered community logging.

Meanwhile, in Aroba Sub-district of Teluk Bintuni, Papua Barat, the team went to the forest areas of the company who received the Business License for the Utilization of Natural Forest and Timber Product (IUPHHK-HA) that formerly known as a Forest Concession Permit (HPH). There, the team found the manipulation of a wood barcode. For instance, the barcode for ketapang wood is used for Merbau wood.

Moreover, the team also investigated the primary industry in Papua, Surabaya, Lumajang, Gresik by tracing the distribution of logs. Here, they found another finding, namely the fake transport data and officials’ involvement, whereas the illegal retribution practice has also become their another concern.

In their journey from Sarmi to Jayapura Municipality, the team discovered 25 retribution posts that consist of the indigenous institution, police (military) and Forestry Office. “This is the fact that we found, but I couldn’t capture it because it was too risky. We even witness a military truck used to transport the logs.”

Furthermore, the Tempo team met the export logging companies and found those companies able to export up to 6,000-meter cubic annually, while based on the Forest Product Information Management System (SIPUH), they only allowed to export around 100-meter cubic.

“In Surabaya, we went to a barge and talked with an officer. He said not all logs are given barcode. A few logging companies intentionally inserted non-barcode logs or illegal logs in there. They are mostly the HPH holders, and they even put the timbers between the logs.”

However, all these findings did not include in the audit industry report registered in the Timber Legality and Verification System Legality and Verification System (SVLK) which consist of the Assessment Agency for Sustainable Forest Production Management (LP-PHPL) and Timber Verification Agency (LV-LK). Both agencies are responsible for assessing the sustainable forest product management and verify the legality aspect of timber based on the system and standards set by the government.

“We also got the information about the involvement of LV-LK and LP-PHPL, which means they play around with such companies and culprits from the forestry office. I think the KPK has identified these cases.”

In the meantime, a resource person from the National Accreditation Committee (KAN) acknowledged that there were bribery practices in the LV-LK. The audit report had often finished before the field assessment.

Meanwhile, the participants appreciated the findings of Tempo’s investigation. They expected the government to find a solution immediately, whether it’s a regulation or supervision and law enforcement.

On the other hand, a representative of LV-LK objected this report regarding the bribery practices in his institution. But Avit said until now none of the resource persons withdrew their statements and opposed the result of the team’s investigation.

Meanwhile, Agung Wijaya, Avit’s editor for this covered story, said he was worried about Avit’s safety during the investigation. But finally, this report was completed and published.

He further said Tempo had traced the case of illegal logging since 2017. Thus, publishing the investigation report becomes a moral burden for Tempo. Therefore Tempo will continue to monitor this issue and welcome other stakeholders who attended this forum for further discussion.

Through this coverage, Tempo attempted to look the case thoroughly even though it might not give a solution because the solution is actually in the hand of all of you (who come to this forum).” (*)

 

Reporter: Timoteus Marten

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Indonesian military to complete Trans-Papua Highway

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Indonesian soldiers participate in a major military jungle warfare exercise in Poso, in central Sulawesi island, on March 31, 2015. -Photo: AFP

Papua, Jubi – Officials working on a troubled road project in Papua say Indonesia’s military will complete the job this year.

In December, at least 16 Indonesians working on the Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga province were massacred by fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army.

The project was put on hold with the military saying it would take over work on the 4000 kilometre highway.

Combat engineers will reportedly carry out the construction, with hundreds of extra security personnel deployed to the area.

Detik News reports a military battalion has been assigned to the building of the project’s remaining 16 bridges.

Indonesian army engineers had already been working on the Trans-Papua Highway project for a number of years.

Military involvement in the project was cited by the Liberation Army as a central reason for killing the road workers, who were suspected of being soldiers. (*)

 

Source: Radionz.co.nz

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Indonesian soldier dead after attack at Papua airport

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Members of the Indonesian Army in Papua. -Photo: AFP

Papua, Jubi – Indonesia’s military has evacuated the body of a soldier killed at an airport in Papua’s Highlands on Monday.

Xinhua reported that gunmen shot at an arriving aircraft carrying soldiers at Mapenduma airport of Nduga district, leaving one soldier dead.

Military spokesman Colonel Muhammad Aidi said when the plane was about to land, it was shot at, and soldiers who were guarding the airport shot back, triggering gunfire exchange.

He said the gunmen retreated and escaped to the forest and the plane landed.

Tempo reported that two soldiers were shot, and hospitalised, with one dying later.

The soldier’s body has been evacuated to Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura,

He is the latest apparent victim in the Highlands conflict between guerilla forces of the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces that intensified last year. (*)

 

Source: Radionz.co.nz

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