Monday, 21 September 2015

2 Indonesian Citizens Taken Hostage by Separatist Group

Hostages freed, hunt for captors goes on
Ina Parlina, Tama Salim and Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Jayapura | Headlines | Sat, September 19 2015, 6:25 PM

The government has announced that two Indonesians taken hostage in the jungles of Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been released with the help of the neighboring country’s authorities.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Friday that the two Indonesians, 28-year-old Ladiri, alias Sudirman, and 29-year-old Badar, were released following negotiations backed up by a PNG military presence on Thursday night and were subsequently handed over to the Indonesian Consulate General in Vanimo, PNG.

“Let me take this opportunity on behalf of the Indonesian government to once again thank the government of PNG, and all other parties involved, for their cooperation and assistance in securing the release of the hostages,” Retno said in a press briefing in Jakarta on Friday.

Retno said the hostages were released around 7:30 p.m. at a village in Victoria Mountain, PNG, on Thursday.

The minister said she had been in intensive communications with the PNG foreign minister and the country’s military commander, as well as the team on the ground in Vanimo.

Retno said she had spoken with the two men early on Friday to confirm that they were indeed in good health.

The two loggers were escorted by the Indonesian Consul General Elmar Lubis to the border area of Skouw-Wutung before being handed over to the Papua Military Regional Command (Kodam) XVII/Cenderawasih at around 1 p.m. local time on Friday.

The two will undergo a medical checkup before they return to their families. The Papua Police are also scheduled to question them.

The hostage release operation led by PNG’s negotiation team involved about 100 PNG military personnel.

“There were neither demands nor a shoot-out during the release,” Elmar said.

Retno went on to say that the government was looking to identify the perpetrators of the “criminal and inhuman act” in the hope that they would soon be caught and prosecuted. The abductors remain at large following the rescue operation.

She indicated that the armed group responsible for the abduction of the two men was affiliated with a network of activists that had been advocating for the resolution of human rights violations in Papua.

“This incident has shown the world the extent of human rights violations and criminal acts that these groups have committed. Indonesia hopes that the perpetrators will soon be captured and processed according to the rule of law,” Retno said.

However, later on Friday at the State Palace, after meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Retno declined to provide more details regarding the kidnappers although she said they had been identified.

Retno said she would release details about the hostage takers after all information had been verified.

She said the President had also ordered an investigation to discover the motive behind the kidnapping.

Less than four hours before the PNG authorities secured the release of the hostages on Thursday night, Jokowi spoke on the phone with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, saying that Indonesia was ready to assist PNG in speeding up their release.

“I am worried about the safety of the two Indonesians being held hostage. I hope PNG authorities will continue the flow of information regarding progress from the field,” Jokowi told O’Neill.

Last week, the kidnappers, previously thought to be a splinter group of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), took the two men across the border into PNG following a shooting incident in Skofro hamlet in Keerom, about an hour’s drive from the border between PNG and Indonesia, in which another logger, Kuba Marmahu, was injured.

The group reportedly demanded the exchange of the hostages for two prisoners detained by the Keerom Police on minor drug charges, a demand the Indonesian government flatly rejected.

The police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) claimed that the group was part of the OPM under Jeffry Pagawak.

“Jeffry’s group is a new criminal group that has created terror in Jayapura and Keerom,” Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said.

The group is alleged to have carried out several terrorist attacks in Papua, including attacking a police office in 2012. 

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Indonesian Government Will Focus on Papua and West Papua



Fedina S. Sundaryani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Wed, August 19 2015, 2:45 PM -

Newly inaugurated Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that one of his first priorities will be to solve long-standing problems in the country’s easternmost province of Papua.

Speaking after a two-hour meeting with heads of the ministries and institutions under his supervision, Luhut said on Tuesday that he would step up monitoring work in the province, which he said would be the first step toward stamping out injustice, leading to the region becoming more accessible to outsiders.

“There is a problem of injustice that we must solve. We are also trying to overcome the perception by foreigners that we do not take care of Papua,” he said at the Office of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister in Central Jakarta.
Luhut said that the perception of a neglected Papua was false, especially since the province received the largest share of the state budget.

However, he acknowledged that one of the priorities in solving problems in Papua was to figure out where most of the provincial funds went as they had not led to any development.
“Papua receives the largest share of the state budget, but we must figure out where all of the Rp 37 trillion [US$2.6 billion] has gone to,” he said.

He said that the central government would pay close attention to officials at the Papua provincial government, who were alleged to have misused the development funds.

“During the meeting, the home affairs minister [Tjahjo Kumolo] said that his ministry recently discovered that many of the officials [in Papua] did not even live there and were often outside of the region,” he said, adding that the time to blame the central government for lack of progress in Papua was over as locals had not done their jobs.

With regard to granting access to foreign journalists to Papua, Luhut said his office would soon set up a website explaining the situation in the restive region.
He said that violation of no-go policies in Papua could have consequences.

“We don’t want this country to be blamed for unfairness. We also refused to be dictated to by others abroad. You can’t look at us in a negative light and violating our laws leads to certain consequences,” he said.

For the past decade, journalists intending to report on Papua were required to fill out permission request forms, which needed approvals from various government institutions. Any foreign journalists caught making news reports without permits could face criminal charges.

In 2014, two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, were arrested and jailed for not having proper permits to report in Papua. The journalists were caught trying to make a documentary on the Papuan separatist movement.

Separately, Attorney General M. Prasetyo said that the Attorney General’s Office would do its part by setting up a team to monitor development in different provinces to make sure that the provincial budgets were not misused.

“The teams will be based in the center [Jakarta] and also in the regions to supervise state officials and make sure that funds are not misused, whether accidentally or otherwise,” he said.
Prasetyo said that the teams would provide legal counsel to state officials in charge of development programs to ensure that the projects would be free from graft.

Separately, National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) member Muhammad Nurkhoirun said that most of the injustice experienced by locals in Papua was due to the fact that the government had failed to protect their rights.

He said that many people in Papua lived in poverty despite the province being rich in natural resources. The paradox, Nurkhoirun said, was due to the fact that locals were not given the rights to be involved in development projects affecting their lives.

“Locals in Papua must be involved in the development of the province so that they also can benefit and understand what is happening. Right now, Papua’s development is only found in the imagination of those creating policies in Jakarta, or only benefiting the elites of Papua,” he said.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

West Papua is Part of Indonesia

East Timor's former president Jose Ramos Horta says West Papua 'part of Indonesia'

East Timor's former president, Jose Ramos Horta, says that he does not think an independence campaign for the Indonesian province of West Papua will be successful.
"I don't believe in that," the now United Nations special representative told the ABC.
"Well everything is possible in the world," he added, "but I wouldn't advocate that.
"It is very much a part of the Republic of Indonesia.
"Solutions for the betterment of the people of West Papua, ending any human rights abuses, economic, social exclusion of West Papuans have to be realised in the context of Indonesian sovereignty."
Mr Ramos Horta's comments go against the calls of West Papua's pro-independence supporters who seek to separate the region from Indonesia.
East Timor struggled for decades for its own independence which it achieved in 2002.
"I believe that if anyone can help redressing the challenges and problems in West Papua would be [Indonesia's] president Widodo," Mr Ramos Horta said.
"I would urge West Papuan elites to seize on the opportunity with a new president to find the best possible arrangement between Jakarta and West Papua."
Meanwhile, Mr Ramos-Horta said he believed the relationship between Australia and East Timor was good but stressed there were differences when it came to the neighbouring countries' borders.
"Canberra, in a very simple manner, would like to see Timor Leste forgetting about wanting to have a maritime boundary," he said.
"Any international attempt at litigation, at arbitration could end today if Canberra were to signal to Timor Leste that let's sit and settle the maritime boundary, let's draw a median line."

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