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The Pacific/MSG Delegation Visit to Papua: Full of Contradictions

papuan women's network tiki has written a direct and challenging letter to the melanesian spearhead group (msg) on behalf of the indigenous women of papua. tiki criticises the visit of the msg delegation, reminding the msg of the original aim of the visit and questioning whether it has met this aim.
06 February 2014

Port Numbay, 23 January 2014

To Mr. Leader of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and Leader of FNLSK.

On behalf of  Indigenous  Papuan Women and  women victims of violence and human rights abuses  in Papua, I felt obliged to write this field report findings to you so that you get a true statement.

Thank you.

Fientje Salomina Jarangga

Cc: To Leader of WPNCL.


The Pacific/MSG Delegation Visit to Papua:  Full of Contradictions

(By: Fientje Salomina Jarangga).

The delegation of foreign ministries from members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) arrived at Sentani Airport, Jayapura at around 6am on 13 January 2014.  The delegation comprised representatives from Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands and FNLSK (Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front).

The delegation visited Papua at the invitation of the Government of Indonesia following the request by the Papuan Nation to be accepted as a member of the MSG at the MSG Summit from 18-21 June 2013 in New Caledonia.

The purpose of the visit included the aim of assessing the state of human rights and democracy in Papua in light of the demands for independence from the Papuan Nation.  The findings of the visit were to be input to consider Papua’s request to become a member of the MSG.

All sections of the Papuan nation had prepared to welcome the delegation in line with traditional custom up until the morning of 13 January 2014.  However, this did not proceed as planned due to the tight security imposed police and military in full battle gear, including water cannon trucks that were deployed in surprising numbers.  The delegation’s convoy through the city of Jayapura appeared to be intended to put pressure on the Indigneous Papuans who wanted to welcome the MSG.  At around 6-6.30am, members of the delegation had already arrived at the SwissBell Hotel, Jayapura.  The welcome message from the people was hardly able to be heard by the delegation as the proceedings were taken over by local government, military and police.  Furthermore, the heavy rain of the night before also made it difficult for people from surroundings districts to join the welcome procession.

Due to the strict security and high tension of the situation, members of the public make their way immediately to the building of the Provincial Parliament at 9am.  The police and military  at the parliament building was also very tight.  When a colleague and I arrived at the parliament building before 10am, we saw that there 2 trucks leaving the parliament grounds and heading for the Jayapura Police station.  We observed the situation around the Parliament building.  However, we noted that the crowd around us comprised only police, military, intelligence and media.  

We were joined by another colleague who advised us to stay at the parliament grounds.  We hoped that the delegation would visit the parliament building.  I asked one of the secretariat staff if the MSG delegation would be visiting the Parliament.  This person replied that she planned to go to check “Dok 2” as it was said that the delegation would visit the vocational high school at “Dok 5.”  While waiting in the grounds of the parliament building, another colleague contacted other activist friends, the majority of whom were at the Police Station.

According to EH, a Papuan woman activist had her camera (canon) seized by one of three police officers and EH was taken to the Jayapura Police Station with a number of colleagues. And specially Mama Yosepa Alomang (Human Rights Defender and Woman Leader). Recipient of the Yap Tian Liem Award.  Mama Yosepa sought to impede the arrest of Markus Haluk and then she was pulled until she nearly fell to the ground.  Her shirt was pulled about by the Police.  Mama Yosepa was about to get into her car but the police approached and again pulled her and forced her out of the car.  They took her bag and her car keys.  Mama Yosepa was ordered out of the car, forced into a police car and taken to the Jayapura Police Station with other members of the group around 42-45 members of the protest group at the parliament grounds protested these arrests and taken to the Jayapura Police Station.

At that point, the police, military, intelligence and media escalated their security measures.  They filled the sides of the road around the parliament building and along the road to the Jayapura Police Station.

RJ, FH and I remained at the parliament building.  FH headed to the Police Station.  We were joined by SA, and then RJ, SA and I stood in the grounds of the parliament building that was full of intelligence, police, military and journalists.

We sought information about the program of the MSG delegation.  The program was not appropriate for a state visit and not in line with the objective of the delegation’s visit.

1.      The program for the meeting with senior officials in the governor’s office was not clear and clashed with the Governor’s agenda to inaugurate  Province Secretaries.

2.      For protocol purposes, the delegation was accompanied by Franz Albert Yoku and Meset, who do not have an official capacity in the Papuan provincial administration.

3.      The delegation left the SwissBell Hotel to visit a vocational high school in Dok 5 Jayapura.  According to accounts that we have received, the Indigenous Papuan students were asked to provide explanations and demonstrate their capacity, and to provide catering to all indigenous students.  We question what relevance this had with the MSG visit.  Why were the indigenous Papuan students asked to take the front line?

4.      Following this, the delegation was taken to Bank Papua.  We have been informed by sources within the bank that Indigenous Papuan staff were assigned to all positions that morning from customer service to tellers.  This has been confirmed by an internal source who wishes to remain anonymous.  Based on my observations, this made it possible to create an impression of the “Papuan” character of Bank Papua during the visit.  It appears that non-Papuan members of the Bank Papua staff could be seen in their Bank Papua uniforms walking around the surrounding shopping area at the time of the delegation’s visit.

A Contradictive Visit

Why was the visit contradictive? 

The information conveyed here does not accord with the information provided in the local media prior to the delegation’s arrival.  For example, it was reported that the delegation would use Garuda Indonesia Airways and arrive at Sentani Airport at 7am.  However, the flight details were not revealed and it was explained only as a regular flight.  The delegation’s program of activities was not publicised, including any details of meetings with representations of Indigenous Papuans.  The only party mobilised for this visit was the Red-White Front, a group that has no interest in humanitarian issues in Papua, unlike human rights defenders, Church officials and women who have been working for peace and justice in the Land of Papua.

There are a number of indications that the visit violated the agreement of the MSG Summit of June 2013. 

1.      The composition of the delegation did not include all members of the MSG nations.

2.      The agenda for the visit set by the government of the Republic of Indonesia was not based on concerns for human rights and the rectification of the history of the political status of Papua that was proposed and agreed to at the MSG Summit in June 2013.  Yet these problems are widely known as a cause of the victimisation of Indigenous Papuans, as well as other negative and sustained impacts.

3.      The visits to the vocation high school in Dok 5 and Bank Papua are not relevant or representative of the concerns of Indigenous Papuans.

4.      The MSG delegation did not meet with the Indigenous Papuan community.  This indicates that the Indonesian government is not serious in resolving the Papuan situation through dialogue in the way proposed by Papuans.  In this way, the Central Government is sustaining conflicts in the Land of Papua.

5.      No space has been created for Indigenous Papuans to resolve the situation in Papua.  This space is dominated by the arrogance of the police and military.

6.      The Government, in this case represented by the Governor, Provincial Parliament, Papuan People’s Assembly, which have been elected by the people, including Indigenous Papuans, did not use their civilian authority to give space to Indigenous Papuans.  Papuan officials are afraid of the Central Government, which are focusing now on “the promotion of economic development.”

Based on the observations above, it is time for the United Nations to give serious attention to the situation in Papua.  The UN should consider how historical wrong-doings with respect to the political status of Papua have been manipulated by major powers involved with global corporations.  These actions continue to have a negative impact on the Papuan people today. 

On behalf of Papuan women, I am disappointed with the visit by the MSG delegation which has consumed so much energy among Indigenous Papuans over the past 6 months.  The results are far from what was expected.  I would like to pose a number of questions to the members of the MSG:

  1.  How did the members of the MSG meet the agreement that was made in the communique of June 2013 regarding the issue of Papua as one common race and one people who are experiencing violence and human rights violations under the Republic of Indonesia? 
  2. How do the members of the MSG acknowledge that Indigenous Papuans, arguing that the ongoing conflict has reached 50 years and there is no good efforts of the Indonesian government to resolve the conflict. In fact, human rigths violantions increasing and as a usually. In particular women victims of violence and human rights violations as well as victims of the past.
  3. How do the members of the MSG help to bring out an Indigenous Papuans as one race and people of the Pacific Region.