Time to right the great Melanesian wrong

Publié le par hort

http://solomonstarn ews.com/index. php?option= com_content& task=view& id=991&Itemid= 45&change= 103&changeown= 87

Time to right the great Melanesian wrong
Monday, 14 April 2008

FINALLY, hope for the forgotten Melanesians. And a chance for Prime Minister Derek Sikua and this country to try to help right one of the great wrongs of Melanesia.  It comes with Vanuatu’s move to push the cause of the Indonesian-ruled West Papuans at next month’s Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting. This is being held in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila. Vanuatu Foreign Minister George Wells promised support after the West Papua National Coalition of Liberation met in Port Vila the other day.

Vanuatu wants the West Papuans to be given observer status within the Melanesian Spearhead Group. It would link them with Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Kanaks of New Caledonia.  Dr Sikua should support this Vanuatu move despite all the behind-the-scenes pressures he will now come under not to. For the Indonesians have no more right to occupy West Papua than they did East Timor.

Indonesia’s mistreatment of the Papuans and exploitation of West Papua’s rich resources are well documented. Just the other day, for instance, TV viewers in Honiara saw a graphic Australia Network documentary telling of the spreading of HIV/AIDS amongst the Papuan population.There were suggestions this is part of a strategy to weaken the Papuans and strengthen the position of Asian Indonesians being moved into Papua. So let’s never forget the following despite all the huff and puff from Jakarta. Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua has no credibility. It was only allowed to happen because it suited American Government interests during the Cold War.

More recently Australian and Papua New Guinean governments have largely kept West Papua off the Pacific Islands Forum agenda. They have thwarted efforts to get the Forum to address the issue of West Papuan self determination. Canberra does this because it worries about maintaining Australia’s own relationships with its massive and sensitive neighbour to its north. To appease Jakarta, Canberra pragmatically turns a blind eye to the rights of the West Papuans. This has been especially important to Canberra since the fallout with Jakarta over East Timor. In Port Moresby, there is personal sympathy for their fellow Melanesians across the border in the west. But Papua New Guinea governments also fear provoking any confrontation with the Indonesians. They are especially wary of the powerful Indonesian military who hold such sway in West Papua and benefit so much from the occupation there.

There are also some in Papua New Guinea who see benefits, perhaps personal, in snuggling up to the Indonesians. Vanuatu alone has long supported the West Papuan cause. It has been prepared to stand up to all the pressure over this. Not just from the Indonesians but also from Canberra and Port Moresby.

The West Papua National Coalition of Liberation is said to bring together 28 pro-independence groups. Its vice chairman, Dr John Ondawame, told Radio Australia after they met in Port Vila that there are now signs of support from Fiji and Solomon Islands too. Let’s hope this finally translates into a true Melanesian effort to right one of the great wrongs of this part of the world. And Solomon Islands joins Vanuatu in leading this effort. Granting the West Papuans observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group is an important first step.



The Global African Community
By Runoko Rashidi

Saturday, April 19, 2008,





Melanesia (the Black islands of the South Pacific) has been described as the eastern flank of the African world, an expression of ages past when an uninterrupted belt of Black people stretched across frica, Eurasia, Australia, Oceanica and ancient America.
In 1545 Spain made a claim on New  Guinea, the largest and most populous island in Melanesia. Indeed, New Guinea is the largest island in the world after Greenland. It is tremendously wealthy in mineral resources, including uranium, copper cobalt, silver, gold, manganese, iron and oil. In 1545 Spain made a claim on the island and called it Nueva Guinea because of the striking resemblance between Melanesians and West Africans. Other Melanesian islands include New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Ireland and New Britain.

Split into two by colonial design, New Guinea has until recently contained a racially homogeneous population of five to six million Africoid people.  The eastern half of the island became independent in 1975 under the name of Papua New Guinea. In a 1976 interview, Foreign Minister Ben Tanggahma of Papua New Guinea insisted that:

"Africa is our motherland. All of the Black populations which settled in Asia over the hundreds of thousands of years, came undoubtedly from the African continent. In fact, the entire world was populated from Africa. Hence, we the Blacks in Asia and the Pacific today descend from proto-African peoples. We were linked to Africa in the past. We are linked to Africa in the present. We will be linked to Africa in the future."

The western half of New Guinea, however, along with a significant portion of the island's total population, has been seized by Indonesia. Indonesians generally have a condescending view of Melanesians and consider them their racial inferiors. Under Indonesian rule since 1963, the Melanesians of New Guinea, known as Kanaks, want their island to become an independent country run by and for Melanesians. The struggle continues.


http://www.freewest papua.org/ index.php? option=com_ content&task= view&id=642& Itemid=2

Churches, NGOs release report on torture

Lilian Budianto and Mariani Dewi,

The Jakarta Post,

Non-governmental organizations and churches released Friday The Practice of Torture in Aceh and Papua 1998-2007 report, which details thousand of abuse cases in Aceh and Papua during the past military imposition and in Timor Leste during the occupation of Indonesia from 1975-1999.

The 202-page report was prepared by the Office for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura in Papua, Jakarta-based human rights monitoring group Imparsial, Progressio Timor Leste, the Synod of the Christian Evangelical Church in West Papua and the congregation of Franciscans International. The report will be submitted to the Geneva-based Committee Against Torture (CAT) as a recommendation before it holds its second review toward human rights progress in Indonesia.

"The government still uses torture as an effective and systematic method to get confessions from suspects," said Poengky Indarty, Imparsial's external relations director.   "Indonesia should not be doing it but torture is carried out not only by police officers, but also by the military.   "The convention is not part of the legal system in Indonesia. Torture is defined in the Criminal Code only as 'force by state officers in investigation' and the punishment is very light," she added.

Indonesia signed the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1998 and first submitted its rights reports review by the committee in 2001.   The Indonesian government, including its military and police chief leaders, will be in Geneva from May 6-7 to attend the second periodic review by the committee.

A number of victims will also go to Geneva to testify for the committee, which has the power to impose sanctions, including embargoes, on Indonesia if it fails to improve its human rights conditions within the given deadline.

The report provides the breakdown of more than 5,000 cases of torture, extra-judicial killings and injuries sustained in Aceh from 1998 to 2007 during the Military Emergency Phase I and II. It details approximately 242 documented cases of torture in Papua and other cases of abuse by military forces leading to human rights violations, including the large-scale destruction of entire villages.The report also chronicles the situation of human rights in Timor Leste during the occupation of Indonesia from 1975 to 1999.

The report says the cycle of violence and torture is reoccurring because the government has not taken any effective steps to prevent the military and police from repeating the same brutal violence. It says torture was used in Timor Leste and Aceh through military operations to instill fear in the people. Today a number of controversial mining companies operate in the regions and issues of separatism by the local residents remain.

In their recommendation to the committee, the NGOs and religious groups also wanted the government to run preliminary inquiries and bring to trial and convict the perpetrators of torture. This includes military commanders and chief police officers who may have given orders to carry out the torture.

Poengky said most of the allegedly involved officers had been acquitted of all charges and had even been promoted to higher positions. She said the government had failed to fulfill the first committee's recommendations from 2001, saying they only satisfied one out of the 17 recommendations. The only recommendation the government fulfilled was when it invited special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak to visit Indonesia in 2007.


http://www.pacifici slandsuk. org/outrigger. html

From Issue 52, Spring 2008

Lords Papua plea

THE Government was urged in a Lords debate in February to step up efforts to persuade Indonesia to put an end to the abuse of human rights and torture of political detainees in West Papua.

THE proportion of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua is expected to drop from 96 per cent of a 900,000 population in 1971 to around 15 per cent by 2030, the House of Lords was told in a recent debate.  “Papuans are becoming a minority in their own country”, said the Rt Rev Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, quoting a UN source as describing West Papua as being among those countries whose population were “at risk of extinction”.

Leading the debate on Feb 26, he said that human rights abuses in West Papua were “very grave”. The systematic brutality was in support of the 1969 “act of no choice” when a handpicked 1,000 Papuans voted under military pressure to remain part of Indonesia
instead of seeking independence.

He wanted the Government to work for an international presence in West Papua to ensure that those who are raising human rights issues could do so “without the present fear of intimidation, torture and death”.  Speakers referred to international reports alleging brutality by army, police and paramilitary units in stamping out peaceful protests, and the widespread use of torture of detainees, and extra-judicial executions.

Lord Archer of Sandwell said that history would not understand how human suffering on such a scale continued year after year while the world looked on complacently. He urged the Government to go to the Security Council.Baroness Cox said that the conflict was primarily a struggle for West Papuan independence or self-determination.

The Lib-Dem spokesman, Lord Avebury, who is a former president of TAPOL, the Indonesian human rights campaign, asked for pressure to be applied to Indonesia to train the judiciary and police, and Lord Astor (Cons) wanted the Government to get Indonesia to try to achieve a basic standard of human rights.  “Torture is a central pillar of West Papua rule,” he said.  For the Government, Lord Malloch-Brown acknowledged that Lord Harries had raised issues that were not acceptable anywhere.

But Indonesia was a country that had changed enormously in the past decade, including making significant improvements in human rights. Britain recognised the shortcomings of Indonesia but “we believe that the way forward is an internal dialogue between the people of Papua and the Government of Jakarta”, he said

Publié dans African diaspora

Pour être informé des derniers articles, inscrivez vous :
Commenter cet article