Rut M. Ohoiwutun

 

Role: Lobbying & Advocacy, Yayasan Anak Dusun Papua (YADUPA)
Other Affiliations: Gerakan Mahasiswa, Pemuda dan Rakyat Papua (GempaR Papua), Papuan Women’s Human Rights Network.
Active in Country: Indonesia, West Papua

DTP Program: 27th Annual Human Rights and People's Diplomacy Program, Timor-Leste 2017

 

Through DTP I learned how to position myself and be a representative of the Papuan people wherever I am.

I was a volunteer at Yayasan Anak Dusun Papua (YADUPA) but after participating in the DTP program in 2017 I became a staff member in the lobbying and advocacy division, handling the awareness and structure of Indigenous youth organisations. In this role I work with young people in three West Papuan cities – Manokwari, Merauke and Jayapura – conducting competitions such as debating, public speaking, writing and storytelling to raise awareness of Indigenous rights while preserving cultural values contained in Papuan stories and legends.

I learned how we as human rights defenders could help people and governments to find solutions. We have to be part of the solutions not the problems. That is a big thing I learned from DTP in Timor-Leste.

I graduated in anthropology from Cenderawasih University, Indonesia. Throughout my studies and early career, I realised that many aspects of West Papua’s history are not taught in schools, and I became interested in various issues concerning Papuan people, particularly violence, injustice, and violations of rights for Indigenous people. In my work I have a focus on land grabbing, extrajudicial killings, exploitation and extraction of natural resources.

My anthropological research includes various studies of Indigenous Papuan communities. I am also a contributor to Jubi - the largest online news portal in West Papua. My story of my grandmother’s clan was published in the book Anthology of Nusantara Folktales (2015). I also write for a local newspaper on the situation of Papuan women and children.

Since 2013 I have been a member of GempaR Papua, which is a popular mass movement of Papuan students, youth and people that aims to seek justice and the right to self-determination of the West Papuan nation. I am also active in the Papuan Women’s Human Rights Network. In 2019 I travelled to Geneva to undertake further human rights training with Geneva for Human Rights Global Training.

I have brought the knowledge and skills I gained from my DTP training back to my networks to share with local activists, organisations and communities. My main focus is on the development and empowerment of Indigenous communities, especially the younger generation. I am passionate that advocacy about Papua can be voiced by Papuans.

Key challenges in my work are lack of human resources to implement programs, and geographical distance. To counteract these, I utilise networks I have built over my years of volunteering across multiple organisations and put my trust in teams of young people, training them and working together for common goals.

I also learned a lot from the experience of the struggle of my friends in Timor-Leste against Indonesia. I do not want us to achieve our independence through violence and shedding blood of many people of Papua. DTP taught me how to move to achieve it. I learned the importance of building communication and networks from the local, regional to international level to drive a greater change together.

In 2018, I began to develop a descriptive study in order to improve the skills of young Papuans to collect data and to conduct an analysis of the effects of development in Papua, especially in urban areas. In 2019 I conducted a training with a focus on business and human rights to train more than 15 young people from 7 traditional territories. I am also using social media as a platform to educate young Papuans, making YouTube videos such as book reviews and interviews with activists.

I am currently working on a project to improve the processing and utilization of sago as an economic resource with the aim of developing this as a community-based asset to help ensure Indigenous people do not lose their forest resources.

 

Profile written July 2020.