Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WPAT: Statement on International Crisis Group report - and its coverage

West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT): Statement on International Crisis Group report - and its coverage

Contact: Ed McWilliams, edmcw@msn.com

March 16, 2010 --The International Crisis Group published a report, "Indonesia: Radicalization and Dialogue in Papua," on March 11 which purports to depict the growing radicalization of some Papuan groups and consequent increases in violence there. The report usefully calls for dialogue between the Indonesian Government and Papuans and for an end to restrictions on access to Papua by journalists and researchers. However, the report fundamentally misrepresents the reality in Papua (West Papua) insofar as it ascribes growing violence there to Papuan "radicals." The principal impetus toward violence continues to be the persistent and accelerating deterioration of conditions affecting Papuans.

The report ignores continued violation of Papuan human rights and the unaccountability of their security force persecutors; the marginalization of Papuans who face resumption of ethnic cleansing under the rubric of "transmigration; as well as the devastation of Papua's natural resources under the guise of development. Specifically, although the report condemns the use of the label "separatist' to "taint" Papuan activists, no where does the lengthy report describe or acknowledge the daily consequences of policies which entail legal and extra-legal intimidation, harassment and worse for Papuans who assert their rights.

The report similarly ignores the fear among nearly all Papuans that government subsidized "migration" to Papua by non-Melanesian Indonesians will within this generation make Papuans a minority in their own homeland. While the report focuses heavily on Papuan animosity toward the Freeport-McMoran gold and copper mining enterprise, there is no attention to the vast environmental devastation wrought by those mining activities. Similarly, new "development" schemes promoted by Jakarta which stand to expropriate vast tracks of privately owned Papuan land for palm oil and food-for-export plantations to be farmed by non-Papuans are nowhere discussed.

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