This article relates to the public statement made by Peace Brigades International in 2010 which later was published by the Asia Pacific Solidarity Net (ASPN) on the 9th February 2012. Recently there have been several efforts by Papua separatists supporters to convey the PBI closure statement as propaganda to label and portray Papua as a sealed region to the international community and to twist or worsen the situation in Papua. The PBI statement clearly states the appreciation for the cooperation of the Indonesian authorities throughout its duration of time in Indonesia and outlines that progress has been made in Indonesia concerning human rights, ‘…we appreciate the cooperation of the Indonesian authorities over the years…’ Their close does not reveal continuing efforts by Jakarta to seal off West Papua from effective international monitoring, and this can be attested by any PBI Indonesia worker at the time of closure. Papua is clearly not a sealed region as PBI was operating there for over 12 years. There is also nothing in the PBI statement that supports this.
Firstly, the PBI statement itself is unclear and misleading with no explanation of the causes of PBI withdrawal from the region. Therefore to draw conclusions from the statement is unjustified due to its ambiguity. PBI have stated that there were a number of problems that led to their closure; however these problems are not clearly outlined or explained. For example, what the challenges and constraints are is not outlined; this needs further explanation since it is misleading to the reader and can lead to inaccurate assumptions. It is not clear as to whether these challenges and constraints that PBI faced were external problems due to the relationship with the government or internal and staffing issues: namely, mismanagement within PBI. From what can be seen from the statement, there is nothing that says the withdrawal had anything to do with the Indonesian government’s lack of support for PBI. It is limited and lacking in evidence to assume that PBI’s closure statement was the result of governmental pressure from PBI’s work in Papua. As can be seen above, PBI itself highlighted the cooperation from the Indonesian governments in its statement, with PBI seeming to have had the governments support in the region, throughout its duration there. In addition, the Indonesian authorities continue to promote dialogue and support in Papua to build development and prosperity and continue to progress on the human rights front.
Secondly, the only explanation that is said in the statement is that it was ‘not possible to sustain’ themselves there and that ‘some of those’ who defend human rights continue to face threat. This in itself is not a valid explanation as it does not elaborate on why this happened, or what it was a result of. Moreover, who are ‘those’ and what ‘threats’ are they facing? This is not elaborated on and is unclear as to where the threats are coming from and who it is affecting and why. The threats could be separatists’ groups themselves operating in Papua causing problems for the organization. There is no clear evidence to suggest who is responsible for the threats to PBI and what exactly they are. ‘Despite the fact that the Indonesian Government has made progress in the field of human rights over the past twelve years, some of those who defend human rights continue to face threats when carrying out their work…’ The ambiguity of the statement can be seen here. In saying that the Indonesian government has made progress over the years is also very broad. What progress has been made and how? It is unclear.
Thirdly, regarding the murder case, this is unnecessarily related with the closure statement and should have the police and courts investigate it rather than making comments on something that is not even yet been recorded as an official murder, ‘The cause of death remains unclear…’
To conclude, the PBI statement on the whole is broad and washy with no real reasons underlying the PBI withdrawal from Indonesia with no clear explanation as to why PBI could not sustain itself in Indonesia.