Paula Makabory – Indonesia

Linked with WEST PAPUA, the forgotten story of a people in crisis, and with Agenda, Empowering Women for Gender Eqity.

And linked also with Statement … The West Papua Case, with Petition Letter the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, with Yan Christian Warinussy – Indonesia, and with Crisis Center SAG SULUTTENG.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

It is said about her: Paula has faced many hardships with determination.

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Paula Makabory - Indonesia redim 55p.jpg
Paula Makabory – Indonesia

She works for Elsham.

Paula Makabory was born in Manokwari in West Papua in 1970, a year after the divisive “Act of Free Choice” led to Indonesian control of the territory of West Papua. She is the ninth of 12 siblings raised in a devout, modest Protestant family. She graduated in 1997 from the only state-run university in the region, Cendrawasih University, where she majored in English literature. During her college years, Paula became interested in social issues in particular human rights and women’s rights. Shortly after graduation, she joined Elsham, a determined and bold human rights NGO based in the provincial capital, Jayapura. When Elsham offered her a job, Paula accepted without hesitation.

With her husband, she moved to Timika, a mining town where the American company, Freeport McMoran, operates the biggest gold mine in the world. It is an area in which the marginalisation of indigenous peoples is acutely felt, and poverty and environmental degradation exacerbate the difficult situation of local women living in a patriarchal culture and militarized area. In Timika, Paula has been documenting human rights violations, particularly against indigenous peoples who have been marginalized and impoverished over the decades since the mine went into operation in the 1960s. Like other activists, she believes that the company and the government together, especially its security apparatus, are to blame for the marginalization of the indigenous peoples.

When Paula joined Elsham, Timika had just been rocked with violence. A peaceful protest by local people was violently dispersed by riot police; several people were killed and many others were injured. There were allegations of gross human rights violations and Elsham assigned Paula to document the testimonies of victims and to monitor and report on the evolving situation. Assigned to document the violations, she met with the families of victims, working determinedly although she was risking her life. Her social activism in Timika brought her closer to many other social issues besides human rights, and she now calls Timika her home.

In the last years, Paula has been collaborating closely with a network of NGOs also involved in domestic violence, which is a major problem in the region. She counsels victims of violence so they can again stand on their own and has initiated discussion groups where women are encouraged to talk about their problems and work together to find solutions for them. Paula believes such sharing sessions instill confidence in women, especially those who have been victims of abuse.

Paula is also involved in mediating between groups who threaten to use violence, and in peace building. West Papua has 269 different ethnic groups with different languages, and the region is notorious for factionalism. Different ethnic communities are susceptible to division over issues like tribal supremacy and the allocation of state resources, and tribal wars are not uncommon. Paula believes that the government can and should help address the different interests among the indigenous peoples through participatory development planning.

The problems that Paula and her fellow activists have chosen to tackle in Papua are great and daunting. But they are confident that that they will eventually succeed in bringing human rights and empowerment to the community, especially the women, and peace to Papua. As a colleague of hers emphasised, “Paula is a hard worker. She has established strong networks both overseas and here in Papua. She has faced many hardships with determination.” (Read all on 1000peacewomen).

Read: Lawsuit against Elsham Papua, by Theo Sitokdana of ELSHAM, Jayapura.

Read: Tunnel Vision, Women, Mining and Communities.

Read: article on WEST PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

Read: Human Rights Defenders/Lawyers threatened in West Papua.

And read: Reconciliation and Consolidation Among Papuans.

links:

Wagub Papua, Hentikan Saling Bunuh Oleh Odeodata H Julia;

free Westpapua;

The West Papua Project (Kabar-Irian);

Alternative News Network.

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