5:30 AM Tuesday Nov 1, 2011
police clash with workers of mining giant Freeport-McMoran during a protest in Timika. Photo / AP Indonesia
It was not in the headlines, but our neighbourhood has had its own 'Arab Spring'. The Melanesian people of Indonesian-controlled West Papua, have shown the same determination to pursue non-violent struggle as their counterparts in
A 5000 strong Papua National Congress took place over three days in a Jayapura field ringed with menacing armoured riot control vehicles and heavily armed police and soldiers. It was led by Forkorus Yaboisembut, the Chair of the Papuan Customary Council, who is highlighted on the Indonesian military's leaked watch list of dangerous 'separatists'. As the Congress came to an end on October 19, Forkorus read a Declaration of Independence first penned in 1961, prior to the Indonesian take-over of the territory. He then announced that he had been elected to be the "President" of the "Democratic Republic of West Papua".
As the gathering began to disperse, the military began firing from their assault weapons and launched themselves on the crowd, arresting and beating some 300 people. Forkorus was forcibly arrested along with his "Prime Minister"
Many terrified delegates tried to seek refuge in the nearby Catholic Seminary. Fr Neles Tebay, a prominent advocate for peaceful dialogue, has supplied a detailed account of the violent disruption and brutality displayed as the soldiers invaded the sacrosanct mission complex. Terrified students were tear-gassed and threatened at gunpoint while one Franciscan brother was taken into custody despite the serious injuries he sustained in the attack.
A menacing security force presence is also ongoing in the remote Timika region, location of Freeport McMoran mine, where an American multinational makes vast profits from the largest recoverable reserves of gold and copper in the world. About 8000 workers have been on strike since September seeking to lift their wages from the current hourly rate of around NZ $1.80 to $3.60 to parity with the wages paid to
Petrus Ayamiseba, one of the striking workers, was shot dead by the Indonesian police on October 10, provoking Papuan outrage and an unprecedented level of international union solidarity for the
Freeport McMoran has had a dream run for over forty years. The first contract negotiated with President Suharto gave the mining company virtually free rein as well as generous tax concessions. This was in 1967 when
In the last few years, especially since some western mine employees were gunned down on the mine access road, the company has come under international scrutiny. However, the Jakarta Government is no hurry to interrupt the flow of taxes, dividends and royalties from
There is an ongoing controversy around the way in which
Following recent events,
The buzz word is "engagement" - if we talk nicely the military and police will learn not to open fire on unarmed civilians and
* Maire Leadbeater is Spokesperson for the
Stephen John (
So Maire Leadbeater, do you intend or have you told President Suharto to cease all hostilities against the indigenous peoples of West Papua and can you tell me what measures your organisation has taken or intends to take to confront the Suharto regime with respect to the unlawful killing of
Andrew Johnson () | 11:09AM Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011
Our neighbours are being killed, and it will continue so long as we evade the truth.
The source of the human rights violation is an illegal United Nations resolution, un General Assembly resolution 1752 (xvii). Australia & New Zealand allowed a us sponsored deal forcing the Dutch to trade the people of
I'm asking the
Peter Woods () | 11:59AM Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011
Suharto is giving account to God now for his rapacious and murderous regime. President Yudhoyono is the man in the saddle now, yet to be judged by history as the man who initiated doing the just thing by
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs