Malind District Leader Fails to halt PUSAKA’s workshop in Kampung Onggari

The Leader of Malind District, Martinus Dwiharjo, failed to stop an event organised by PUSAKA (a Jakarta-based NGO which has long supported villagers affected by MIFEE plantations), after it was made clear that this activity was a training and workshop on how to create village regulations to empower Papuan indigenous peoples’ and protect their rights, which took place from 19th-21st September 2013. This was a follow-up activity to the Wendu meeting which had taken place in August 2013.

Previously, Martinus had threatened to forcibly break up the activity, with the pretext that no notice had been given and no permit obtained from the Malind District government. What’s more, an order had been received from the Merauke Regency Government, transmitted over the RRI radio and by telephone, that the district leader and officials from the village government could not participate in any activity unless they received a recommendation and permission from the Regency Leader (Bupati). This is what Martinus explained when PUSAKA met him in the Malind District Office at noon on Thursday, 19th September 2013.

Martinus also ordered Onggari’s acting village leader not to allow government facilities to be used for the event. The secretary of Kampung Onggari, Justinus Ndiken, said that the Malind District Head had phoned and paid a visit to him on the morning before the event started.

The head of the Kumbe police post, Haris Utama, who was present at the Malind District office that Thursday lunchtime, confirmed the plan to break up PUSAKA’s meeting, and even sent an intelligence officer from Kurik police station, Amandus Wombon, to supervise the meeting until the afternoon.

Several village officials from Malind and Animha districts said that they had received phonecalls or heard the news on the radio forbidding them to participate in the workshop. Some of them came and participated, others did not.

Yulianus Gebze, Kampung Kumbe’s customary leader, who participated in the meeting, also received a phonecall from the chief of Kurik Police station asking about the aims of Pusaka’s workshop. Yulianus Gebze explained that it was a training in how to create village regulations. It would introduce the concept to the Malind people and train village officials in methods of making village regulations that could be used to protect the Malind people’s rights. It was not a ‘political’ activity, as had been suggested.

Participants greatly regretted the position taken by the Malind District Leader in wanting to break up the meeting and forbid village officials to attend, because it seemed out of step with the facts. Even if it was considered that no notice had been given, that should not have been a problem, because a village government has autonomy at the village level. The district government prohibiting or limiting such activities only acts to diminish the village government’s own authority, the autonomy of which was outlined in the Papuan Special Autonomy law.

The situation in Merauke City is quite tense because of planned demonstrations and the presence of the Freedom Flotilla ship which brought Australian and exiled Papuan activists to the area. However the workshop participants and villagers knew nothing of that news.

Source: Pusaka

[note for clarification: In West Papua the kampung (village) government is the lowest level of government. The next level up is the district (in other parts of Indonesia it is called kecamatan, usually translated as sub-district). Above this is the Kabupaten or Recency (although outside Papua it is often translated as District. Malind (sometimes Marind) is the name of the main ethnic group in most of Merauke Regency, but is also the name of one of the districts, where Kampung Onggari is located.]

This entry was posted in Merauke News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.