Sat., Jan 9, 2010
Earlier this week, Jerry Zawada and I had a chance to catch up with
each other in a phone conversation. Jerry told me that he and the
provincial of his Franciscan order have reached an impasse, in trying
to resolve how Jerry can best follow his conscience and continue his
ministry as a Franciscan priest. The provincial would like Jerry to
leave his work in the Tuscon area, where Jerry and others have begun a
Catholic Worker house dedicated to helping people who have crossed
desperate need of water, food and shelter. A local bishop issued an
order for Jerry to leave the area after Jerry participated in a
nonviolent direct action at
like to assign Jerry to serve a parish in
This would be an ideal time to help assure that Jerry's provincial is
aware of the extraordinary community of people who join in gratitude
for Jerry's lifelong expressions of courage, wisdom and love. Below
is the address Jerry gave me when I asked if it would be helpful to
encourage correspondence with his Provincial, Fr. Leslie Hoppe, OFM.
Leslie Hoppe, OFM
Very best wishes to all who are receiving this letter. Please feel
free to circulate it further.
Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Ph: 773-878-3815 E-mail: <
Published on openDemocracy (http://www.opendemocracy.net)
Papuan autonomy: the blocked road
By david hayes
Created 12/07/2009 - 20:55
The Indonesian state’s promise of empowerment to Papuans has proved inadequate. A new focus is needed, says Charles Reading.
In the easternmost provinces of
This year was no different. 1 December 2009 was marked by demonstrations, flag-raisings, bouts of repression  and nervous police ambiguously applying the law in the name of state security. At the same time, there is something misleading about seeing the Papuan cause (as parties on both sides of the divide tend to do) mainly through the lens of an ethnic Papuan nationalism  or of a civic Indonesian nationalism. For the talk of nationalism, as of states and ideologies, tends to distract attention from the more immediate realities of social, political and economic disempowerment. These are vital triggers  of protest against the Indonesian state and its regulations, and provide a valuable if neglected guide to the condition of the Papuan struggle .
The failure of reform
When the Otonomi Khusus was first implemented, Papuans hoped it would concentrate on developing the territory , relieving poverty, guaranteeing to Papuans demographic and cultural representation in their own politics, and addressing the human-rights atrocities of the “new order” era under
True, otsus has increased the amount of funds transferred from
The current Papuan provincial governor, Barnabas Suebu , has managed to distribute some of the wealth to the village level through his Rural Development Strategic Programme (RESPEK); although the usefulness and transparency of doling out lump-sums to village heads, rather than (for example) investing in education or health facilities, is questionable .
Otsus also requires cultural and political representation of indigenous Papuans, through the creation in 2005 of the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Council [MRP]) and the reserving of eleven seats for indigenous Papuans in the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua (Papuan provincial parliament). But the actual ability of the MRP to promote cultural laws has been limited ; and on 29 October 2009, on the fourth anniversary of the council’s inauguration, student protesters in Jayapura denounced its ineffectiveness and demanded that it be disbanded. So far, otsus has been incapable of becoming a vehicle for Papuan political empowerment.
In addition, a “unity and reconciliation” law passed in 2000 by the Indonesian parliament’s upper house provided for a truth-and-reconciliation commission (TRC) that would examine past human-rights abuses by the Indonesian security forces in Papua and other regions throughout the archipelago). This has still not been established, and the military and police remain covered in a cloak of impunity. With no checks and balances or self-criticism by the Indonesian security forces, Papuans are vulnerable  to extortion and abuse of power by underpaid soldiers and police personnel.
The Indonesian army chief-of-staff George Toisutta stated  on 12 November 2009 that a new military command will be set up in West Papua province (the northwest  peninsula of the territory) in addition to the Cenderawasih regional command in Papua province). This inevitably will lead to an increase in troops stationed in remote areas who are able to abuse their power and cause misery for many citizens.
A new focus
Perhaps most disturbing of all about the years 2001-09 in Papua is that, despite a huge flow of funds  into the region, little educational and health infrastructure has been created. The governor’s annual promises to grant free access to both these primary services have not been fulfilled. Children living in rural areas (and even parts of Jayapura) often attend understaffed schools that lack basic infrastructure, including electricity. Meanwhile, access to basic medicines and treatment is difficult at best; hospitals work amid frequent power-cuts, a lack of doctors, and shortages of up-to-date medicines. A lack of health education is prevalent, with HIV/Aids becoming a problem amongst the indigenous Papuan population. The provincial governments’ approaches to HIV/Aids - including a plan (soon abandoned ) to install microchips in all HIV/Aids sufferers so their movements could be tracked - do little to educate people appropriately to the dangers.
These problems facing the people of Papua highlight the need to look beyond state-centric and historic debates revolving  around Papuan independence or Indonesian security-ideology, and focus more on the material and development challenges faced in the region. There is a tendency, in Papua and comparable situations, to romanticise or denounce agencies of resistance; it may be more valuable to examine the everyday structures that lead to the economic, social and political disempowerment of an indigenous population. This in turn could become part of a much needed dialogue  about how the people of Papua can partake in the future of their homeland.