Albertus Vembrianto

Puzzle of Violence

(2016 – On Going)

This photo project is about current and repeated discrimination and violence towards indigenous Papuan, Indonesia. The escalation of riots in Papua lately buried those issues.

The escalation of riots in some cities in Papua increased during August 2019. This is a phenomena that never happened since Papua integrated to Indonesia through most criticized pseudo-referendum organized by United Nations in the year 1969.

There was huge protests against the racial condemnation towards indigenous Papuan before the riots in several cities happened in Papua. Racism, which has been endured for decades by indigenous Papuans, has brought back demands for self-determination. Freedom symbols like Morning Star flag fluttered in several protests by indigenous Papuan demanding for justice and equality.

The Indonesian government sent security forces personnel more than eight thousands to all areas in Papua. Some Papua activists were arrested and accused as riots provocateur. Non Papuan activists were also criminalized and arrested because they shared the happening facts in Papua via social media. The government tried to solve the problems by blaming the provocateurs while actually the government tries to find scapegoat and to ignore indigenous Papuan demands.

Papua is a resource rich area although it considered as area with high poverty level. Exclamation for equality and justice by indigenous Papuans always invoke separatist sentiments.

Last week riots broke out in an hinterland areas in Papua more migrants killed than indigenous Papuans. The issue that arose later was conflict between ethnic groups, migrants versus indigenous Papuans. Mainstream media have been involved in bringing up the issue and sinking what actually triggered the protests by indigenous Papuans that affected the riots.

Massive coverage of violence in Papua was carried out by the mainstream media when victims were migrants for decades. It is different when the victim is indigenous Papuans, there is almost no media did the coverage. This tendency emphasizes systemic racism for Papuans. “We are considered to be half-animals,” a statement commonly spoken by Papuans.

Caricature made by Papuan student. Papuan People Council announced manifesto of freedom from Dutch colonization. After the act of free choice in 1969, United Nations stated that Papua became part of Indonesia.

Siwa Hesegem, 23 years old, in his way to boarding house in Jakarta. The security apparatus were still watched some boarding houses in the city where Papuan student study; Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Denpasar (Bali), Manado (Celebes).

The newest 10,000 Rupiahs with national hero Frans Kaisepo from Biak, Papua. When it was launched in December 2016, there were massive racial comments mocking the hero in social media.

Yore Gwijangge, 25 years old, smeared his face with mud as a symbol of grief. More than a month he lost contact with his family. The military operation early December 2018 has made his family flee to the forest.

Wall painting in the house of Papuan and pictures of bachelor graduation. For Papuan, graduated from university is a pride. Social status change, not primitive anymore and can be elite like non Papuan settlers.

Ajkwa River and Otomona River in Mimika Regency, Papua, Indonesia. The Otomona River is made into a deposition area for tailings, the waste of mine operations. About 13,000 people live in the region to become gold miners, more than half of which are indigenous people.
Even though, Papua’s natural landscape has changed due to the development and modernization the Papuan children continue to create their dreams as much as they can, without any guarantee either from the government or from the corporation of their fundamental rights as citizens: proper life and education.

A painting with lamp reflections in the room. Change and modernization makes Papuan undergo culture shock, isolated from their own culture and local knowledge.

Most education practice in Papua adopt boarding school approach. The children are brought into modern environment which is completely different from their daily life experience as indigenous Papuan.

The sculpture of West Papua Liberation Monument in Jakarta, made in August 17th, 1963. In the end of 1961, Soekarno — the president of Indonesia at that time, delivered his speech stated the liberation of Papua from Dutch colonization.

Imakulata Emakeparo, 61 years old, shot in the area of mining operation in Mimika Regency, Papua (3 February 2018) . She was with his husband on their traditional boat went to take some clean water before she was shot. The security apparatus stated that they shot her because she helped the gold burglary.

Military statues supported by a number of indigenous Papuans who wear traditional clothes. This statue is located in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. This statue seems to affirm the colonization of the Papuan people. For 20 years Papua has been a military operations area, where indigenous Papuans have trauma because of the violence by security forces.

Security forces in Papua are free to enter school areas. When there were protests about racial condemnation in the middle of August, they are more often enter school areas, arguing that the children were not provoked by protests against racial criticism.

Burial of the Asmat people in the past. Death to the Asmat is a way back to the universe, on par with other creatures.

The sick in Asmat were referred to hospitals to other districts which has more appropriate health facilities. The most serious problem in Papua is health, poor health services and facilities which make Papuans reluctant to access health services. When illness is severe and there is no choice, Papuans are forced to access health services. It is more often the sickness does not heal but instead the patient dies.

Patung di taman kota di Wamena, Kabupaten Jayawijaya Papua, Indonesia, yang menggambarkan pakaian dan peralatan sehari-hari di masa lalu.

A man from Kamoro tribe, one of the tribe in coastal area of Timika, Papua, Indonesia, with accessories made from the packages of instant noodle for necklace, head accessories, and tawri. Tawri is skirt made from sago leaves. This man modified his accessories. The practice of implementing government programs in Papua is more often manifested by distributing cash into the community. This practice is considered more practical and useful for the community although actually, it is a kind of strategy to get an opportunity for corruption – while many programs from central government are mostly with abundant budget. This situation provides most Kamoro people with cash availability which encourages people to shop and consume manufactured goods. Simultaneously, the expansion of factory goods comes in through traders. All the traders in this area are settlers. Nowadays, people in this village area prefer instant noodle.

A painting of Cendrawasih, Papuan bird called as bird of paradise It is considered a bird from heaven therefore it is respected.

A number of people in Merauke Regency, Papua, said, they met exhausted birds several times. Maybe because it flies too far and does not meet any trees in so long distance therefore it cannot rest. In Merauke to Boven Digul, there has been widespread deforestation for oil palm plantations since early 2000.

A Tattoo of Abi Loho, 22 years old Papuan woman with Morning Star flag motif, a symbol of Papuan culture and freedom of Papuan people. The security apparatus prohibit the use of this symbol — many Papuan were asked to take off this kind of accessories, some were arrested.

Some Papuan students gathered — because of the undergone discrimination and violence, they tend to be reluctant and distrustful towards non Papuan.

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