AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTERS

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PRESIDIUM DEWAN PAPUA

Jln. Guru No. 64 Kotaraja, Tel/Fax: 0967. 582411 Jayapura E-mail: westpapua@jayapura.wasantara.net.id

Port Moresby Address: PO Box 866 BOROKO, NCD, Port Moresby – Papua New Guinea Telephone: (675) 3112184 E-mail: wapupi@datec.net.pg; saweri@datec.net.pg

OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND AUSTRALIA

Dear Editor,

Kindly allow us space for the publication of this letter directed to Prime Ministers Sir Michael Thomas Somare and John Howard.

It is prepared in conjunction with Sir Michael’s ascension for the third time as Prime Minister Monday, August 5, and John Howard’s visit this week; and also as a prelude to the forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum Summit which the two leaders are to attend in Suva, Fiji.

The purpose is simple -- to remind the two leaders and indeed others within PIF of their collective responsibilities in their execution of the Tarawa Summit PIF communiqué, October 2000, (re: item 17) on West Papua.

At this juncture however we wish to convey our congratulation to Sir Michael and his family for his almost unanimous election on the floor of Parliament as PM to lead PNG once more. In spite of the carnage and fraud which had plagued the 2002 general election process in many parts of the country, particularly in the Southern Highlands and Enga, thus tarnishing PNG’s image and reputation, Sir Michael’s re-election as regional member for East Sepik and the confidence bestowed upon him by the people through 88 MPs (out of 103) was truly a triumph for democracy and the constitution of PNG.

As citizens we are confident that in spite of the gloomy records we have just encountered and indeed must be addressed promptly and effectively, the principles of democracy enshrined in the Constitution shall prevail as key pillars in PNG’s contemporary society.

On the visit of PM Howard, we simply extend our warm welcome to him and his entourage to our Melanesian soil. Mr. Howard is not a stranger to PNG and its people and leaders. Certainly his meeting with Sir Michael and his caretaker cabinet and the visit to the world renown Kokoda Trail will further enhance the existing cordial ties – historically, economically and politically – between the two nations.

Turning now to the Tarawa October 2000 PIF communiqué, we, acting on behalf of Tom Beanal, the interim Chairman of the Papua Council Presidium (PCP), are burdened to remind the heads of governments of the PIF nations of their moral and political responsibilities and obligations in ensuring that their collective stance as reflected in item 17 of that communiqué is meaningfully executed.

The PIF leaders, according to the Communiqué, expressed their "deep concern about the past and recent violence and loss of life" and "called on both the Indonesian government …. and the secessionist groups to settle their differences peacefully through dialogue." They further "urged all parties to protect and uphold the human rights …" in West Papua.

Sirs, similar calls have been echoed by NGOs and the governments of New Zealand, USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, UK, and European Union as well as the leading Churches and the Chapter of Moslem Cleric Council in West Papua. The Churches include the Christian Evangelical Church (GKI) the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura, the Christian Missionary Church (GKII), the Seventh Day Adventist and the Baptist – 93% of Papuans are Christians. Both the Christian Churches and the Papuan Moslem Cleric Council have issued a combined position condemning all forms of barbaric killings, actions and intimidations and coercive practices and call on President Megawati Sukrnoputri to: (i) institute an independent commission to investigate and make public its findings surrounding the death of pro-independent and non-violent Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay last November; and (ii) initiate genuine dialogue between Jakarta and the Papuans under the leadership of PCP.

Ironically in spite of all these calls, Jakarta hasn’t come up with a positive response. What it has been and continues to do is military repression and killing of people randomly in strategic places.

The strength of TNI is gaining momentum particularly the Kopassus personnel – the notorious Special Forces Command Troops currently numbering over 2000. They coordinate and train Laskar Jihad (Holy Army) and the Merah Putih (Red White) Militia in Fakfak, Sorong, Jayapura, Nabire and other strategic locations.

Indirect East Timor style repression by TNI including Kopassus and Mobile Police has increased at a frightening rate.

Human rights abuses are rampant. And pro-independent Papuans are the main targets. (Indonesians know the bulk of Papuans opted for Merdeka – independence. A West Papua-wide questionnaire launched by FORERI – a Forum for Reconciliation – in 1999 indicating the majority opting for separation from Indonesia).

Sirs, the unresolved human rights violations since 1963 are but one of the three root causes of dissent in West Papua. The other two are the denial of the right of self determination and the erosion of Papuan cultural identity.

In 1961 the Papuans were well and truly on their way towards decolonization through peaceful democratic process. They had adopted symbols of national attribute: the name of the territory and its people – West Papua and Papuans respectively, the morning star flag, the coat of arms (Crowned Pigeon) and National Anthem – Oh My Land Papua. This process was sadly derailed by the New York Agreement (1962) and the so called the Act of Free Choice (1969).

Kongres Papua II/2000 – the first was held in 1961 – decreed that the decolonization process through peaceful strategies must be resumed from where it was left off. The Kongres empowered the PCP to spearhead the peaceful dialogue internationally including Indonesia.

Megawati Sukanoputri is however pre-occupied with embracing and luring the TNI back into the socio-political life in Indonesia and West Papua. The approach is designed and pursued to torpedo peaceful strategies undertaken by Papuans and their leadership at home.

The Papuans (Melanesians) identity is under enormous threat. The population alone is almost being swamped by non-Papuans. The official Indonesian demographic data on West Papua in 1998 showed a total population of 2.1 million. This included between 750,000 (36%) and 900,000 (43%) Indonesians and approximately 11,000 foreigners. Compare this with 761,000 in 1961 including 728,000 (96%) Papuans and 33,000 foreigners (17,000 Asians including 14,000 Indonesians and 3,000 Chinese) and 16,000 Europeans.

Papuans are mindful of these root causes and as long as they remain unresolved, dissention will continue and Papuans will continue to plea for international intervention.

Australia and PNG - the latter being the largest Melanesian state – as two closest neighbors of West Papua should join other PIF nations (New Zealand, Vanuatu, Nauru and Kiribati) by taking a leading role in bringing the two parties (Indonesia and West Papua) to the negotiating table.

The cold war geo-politics have changed. Military and autocratic regimes have either collapsed or will not be tolerated internationally. Australia and PNG should embark on new and prudent approaches to bring Papuans face to face with Indonesians on the negotiation table.

Signed: Franzalbert Joku International Moderator

Signed:

Clemens Runawery Presidium Member

Signed:

Wilhelm M. Zonggonau Presidium Member

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