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“We bring West Papua exhibit to London National Portrait Gallery”



Dale Grimshaw talks to the public inside the gallery about his portrait of Benny Wenda- Photo by Kristian Buus.

England, Jubi – On September 1, 2017, at 7.30pm, a group of twelve performers – including respected street artist Dale Grimshaw – set up a new exhibit, without permission, inside the National Portrait Gallery in London.

They took over a space at the entrance to the BP Portrait Award exhibition, and set up a display featuring an original portrait by Grimshaw. This portrait shows the Indigenous West Papuan independence leader, Benny Wenda.

Benny Wenda is an outspoken critic of the National Portrait Gallery’s sponsor, BP, as the oil company works closely with the Indonesian government who are currently brutally occupying West Papuan lands.

According to Wenda, “BP is operating in the middle of a genocide. Since 1963, hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian occupation, either directly by government forces or through the loss of their homes, their lands and their livelihoods. The money that BP pays to the Indonesian government helps them to buy weapons and ammunition that are used to harass, intimidate and kill my people.”

This quote was shown prominently beside the portrait in tonight’s rebel art display, and was also printed on hundreds of leaflets given to gallery visitors by the performers, who are from the theatrical action group ‘BP or not BP’?.

Gallery staff attempted to usher the public out of the BP exhibition, but in doing so brought large numbers of people through the room with the unsanctioned exhibit, where many stayed to listen to the talks and performances.

Last night’s performance was timed to coincide with the hand-in, earlier in the day in Geneva, of a 200,000-strong international petition calling for a free and fair independence vote for the people of West Papua. This petition has been banned in Indonesia itself and West Papuan activist Yanto Awerkion is currently in jail, imprisoned by the Indonesian government for collecting petition signatures.

Earlier this year, Dale Grimshaw entered the portrait of Benny Wenda into the BP Portrait Award as a way to raise awareness of the West Papuan cause, and to highlight BP’s support for the Indonesian regime. However, the portrait was not shortlisted by the judges.

“I didn’t really know if it was likely to get shortlisted when the subject matter is so critical of the sponsor – especially as BP has a seat on the judging panel” said Grimshaw. “But bringing the portrait to the gallery today gives us an opportunity to tell Benny’s story directly to the public, and raise vital awareness of the West Papuan people’s struggle for freedom. BP gets to plaster its logo all over the gallery and present this false version of itself to the world. Art can be a way to fight back against that and tell the truth about what these companies are really doing.”

BP’s relationship with Indonesia – and with other repressive governments including Egypt, Azerbaijan and Mexico – are currently the subject of a formal complaint to the National Portrait

Gallery by the campaign group Culture Unstained. Freedom of Information requests have revealed that the gallery’s Ethical Fundraising Policy expresses concerns about taking money from companies “known or suspected to be closely associated with a regime known or suspected to be in violation of human rights”.

The gallery’s deal with BP appears to contravene this policy, and so Culture Unstained are pursuing the matter through a formal complaints process.

Visitors watch a film by West Papuan activist Raki Ap about BP’s activities in West Papua – Photo by Kristian Buus.

The group stayed in the gallery until it closed at 9pm, giving talks to the public about the painting and showing films of Benny Wenda and Raki Ap, another prominent West Papuan activist, talking about BP’s role in the occupation of their lands.

The group also performed a spoof awards ceremony, where BP received a “Pollution Award”, the National Portrait Gallery was given a “Hypocrisy Award” for their failure to follow their own ethical funding policy, and the West Papuan activist Yanto Awerkion was presented in absentia with an award for courage, and had the whole performance dedicated to him.

The National Portrait Gallery refuses to say how much money it gets from BP, but estimates place it at around £375,000 per year. This is less than 2% of the gallery’s annual income.

By comparison, National Portrait Gallery visitors contribute around £3 million per year through ticket purchases alone, while taxpayers provide £6.6 million per year. Meanwhile, the UK government gives hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money in subsidies to BP each year.

BP or not BP? is a member of the Art Not Oil Coalition.(*)


Editor: Zely Ariane


The story of illegal logging from the forests of Papua



Illegal timbers – an illustration.

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



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. (*)



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Indonesian soldier dead after attack at Papua airport



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. (*)



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