West Papua update.
In the morning the family awakes to their daily routine. The husband leaves early amid the bustling house, off to unload containers at the harbour. Moments later a neighbour calls on Dedi. It is Mama Rika (Mama for mother, and Rika for her first child). She's an older, quiet woman, respected in the community, though not for being outspoken or charismatic. She was neither. Mama Rika quickly ushers Dedi out the door. Not to the police nor to the hospital, but to the office of LP3BH.
For the past three years, PPP has been working alongside partners in Manokwari to strengthen their work in transforming the root dynamics of conflict in Manokwari, West Papua, Indonesia. Our program, "Papua: Land of Peace--Strengthening Civil Society Leadership in Conflict Transformation" (PLP), brings forward rights-based approaches to integrate capacity building and education on human rights, sustainable livelihoods, gender equality, and health. This article shares some of the latest stories, successes and challenges.
In line with their work to promote human rights, the Institute for Research, Analysis and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH) has guided the development of Jaringan Perempuan Bersatu (JPB), or the United Women's Network, a support network to address gender-based violence and women's empowerment.
They have reached more than 58 women's organisations, community and faith-based groups, providing education, training and support to a diverse demographic of women. Examples include facilitating skills to sustain cooperative micro-enterprises, initial successes of which were shared in Tok Tok (page 3). Cultivating gender-based perspectives is also seen as critical in addressing two of the prominent factors driving the local dynamics of domestic violence: disparity in economic opportunities and the socio-cultural rights afforded to women. The story of Dedi above was shared with me while visiting Manokwari this fall. Providing support and opportunities for victims of violence, it demonstrates how the work of LP3BH is leading change.
Strengthening opportunities for women in civil society is central to PLP. The Association for Health Care (PTPS) leads capacity building and delivery of critical information and services for HIV/AIDS prevention to women and families. Throughout Indonesia, prevalence of HIV/AIDS is the highest in both Papuan provinces. Within Papua, it is most acute in Indigenous Papuan communities. PTPS has intensified attention under PLP for pregnant and reproductive-aged women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. They fill a crucial service gap in Manokwari. Where government programs have had minimal impact working "top-down", PTPS succeeds "bottom-up" to increase the role and abilities of grassroots volunteers, for example, at temporary health clinics (posyandus). PTPS -trained cadres work there to educate on prevention of HIV and AIDS and empowering clinic clients to make informed choices, integrating broader themes of gender, rights, and family health.
PTPS also assists health agencies and communities to provide counseling, support, and other extension services. They are training staff and coordinating voluntary counseling and testing clinics to identify HIV status, prevent transmission, and monitor prevalence rates. Over the past six months alone, more than 250 people have been tested, while nearly 1000 others have been reached through their PLP programs, such as those focused on increasing mother and infant nutrition.
Nek te eyen Land is our mother
The districts of Amberbaken and Mubrani lie on the north coast of the Bird's Head region, home territory of the indigenous Mpur people. Historically considered a "red area" for its' high OPM (Free Papua Organisation) activity and heavily restricted by security forces, over the last 10 years access has eased. Today, construction on the Trans-Papua Highway passes through, carving a 570 km path from Manokwari to Sorong. Despite the road improving access to services and markets, Mpur communities are concerned. Undoubtedly, the road will accelerate exploitation of the rich resources found there, and expansion of plantations such as Palm Oil. Both have historically brought little benefit to indigenous Papuan communities, while endangering the ecosystems upon which they depend. The continual push of large-scale resource "development" further undermines their land rights and contributes to deterioration of their cultural worlds, health and economic wellbeing.
PPP is helping to create alternatives through the collaboration of local partners such as Yalhimo (Manokwari Humeibou Environmental Foundation). Working with Mpur communities spanning 14 villages across these 2 districts, Yalhimo facilitates community mapping, planning, and consultation processes. These have identified local hopes and needs, documented cultural values and practices embodying indigenous systems of knowledge, governance, and stewardship. It constitutes a critical tool for strengthening adat institutions, and recognising their economic, socio-cultural and territorial rights. (2) It also informs community planning and potentiates infusing indigenous systems and values in regional planning.
The acute impacts ecosystem change would bring to local cultures and livelihoods were persistent themes of a recent climate change workshop. (3) Knowing that large-scale resource development is kindling for conflict, the workshop emphasised place-based connections and perspectives: themes explored through discourse, art, film, and song. Participants expressed intent to look for viable alternative and sustainable livelihoods, and strengthen their own Adat institutions. It marked a concrete movement forward increasing community awareness of climate change and the myriad mitigation interventions that will soon confront them.
This fall, PPP placed three Canadians to work directly with partner organisations in Manokwari. With LP3BH, Krista Clement brings extensive experience working to protect and promote the rights of minority women in children, as well as addressing statelessness among indigenous communities. Her work has led her to India, Burma, and Thailand. She holds an MA in Sustainable International Development, and is a member of the Metis Nation of Ontario. Glenn Raynor recently completed his MA in International Relations in Tokyo investigating emerging threats to traditional food economies of Western Solomon Islands, and rejoins PPP to work with Yalhimo. He was instrumental in developing PLP, serving as Executive Director of PPP from 2006-9. Working with PTPS, Dr. Jenny Munro is a Canadian anthropologist with an interest in political violence and health. Since 2003 she has worked with Papuan youth and university students on issues such as HIV/AIDS and racial discrimination. All three will be in the field through the end of February 2012, supporting programming, sharing and exchanging knowledge & skills with local counterparts.
International attention towards West Papua has been mounting in recent months, catalysed by the crackdown at the 3rd Papuan Peoples' Congress in Jayapura (Oct 19 2011) that led to the death of at least 3, and the detention of more than 300. (4) Violent subjugation of Papuans' nonviolent organisation to exercise rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution and international accords, demonstrates that Indonesian policy on Papua has effectively remained unchanged since the Suharto era. It demands attention of an international community that values human rights, peace, social and ecological justice.
Continuing to bring presence and attention to West Papua is essential towards realising Papua as a land of peace. Coupled with increasing social awareness in Canada, creating connections north and south, PPP is committed to supporting our Papuan counterparts to realise collective visions for peace, prosperity, and sustainable communities.
If you would like to learn more about our ongoing work in West Papua, please contact us. While there are many ways to get involved, donations are critical. By donating you become active in building leadership in vulnerable Indigenous communities throughout Papua and enabling connections throughout Canada, the Pacific, and beyond. Your support is invaluable to the work we do, allowing us to collectively achieve success in a changing world. There is much yet to be done.
PPP takes no official position on the political status of West Papua. We neither endorse independence claims nor Indonesian sovereignty, but support the right and aspirations for West Papuan people to decide their own future.
(1) Pseudonyms are used to protect the individuals identity
(2) Adat=Indigenous, traditional (tradition), or customary (custom)
(3) LP3BH, Yalhimo, & MnuKwar (from Manokwari), along with Down to Earth (UK), and PPP (Canada). Adriana Sri Adhiati's recent article "Songs of worries, songs of strength" eloquently stories the workshop context and process: [www.downtoearth-indonesia.org /story/dte-newsletter-89-90-full-edition-download]
(4) See: West Papua Report (November & December 2011) www.etan.org/issues/wpappua/ Further reports indicate as many as 17 Papuans killed, 800 detained, and at least 51 others tortured by Indonesian security forces during and after the raids