Statement shows global support for human rights and HRDs in West Papua

14 Jul 2011
Initiated by TAPOL, WPAT and ETAN, endorsed by 54 international, regional, national and local organizations.

In recent weeks, highly regarded West Papuan non-governmental and religious organizations which promote respect for human rights have spoken out forcefully regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in the territory. In two separate statements, the organizations decried the failure of the Indonesian government to ensure justice for or protect Papuans who have been the victims of security force brutality, including extra-judicial killing, torture, abduction and imprisonment. The organizations have also called for protection of human rights defenders. The continuing violation of human rights starkly demonstrates the limits of 'democratization' in Indonesia.

In a recent press conference, two human rights NGOs, BUK (United for Truth) and KontraS-Papua (Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence), underscored the failure of the Indonesian justice system to address endemic violation of human rights by the military and police. They noted that some cases have languished for over a decade and said that years of inaction by the Indonesian government regarding these cases have compelled them to appeal to "international mechanisms" to ensure that the Government of Indonesia brings these incidents before a court of law.

At their June 14 press conference in Jayapura, the NGOs, describing the consistent failure of justice in West Papua, said:

"With regard to the human rights violations that have been perpetrated in Papua at the hands of members of the Indonesian army (TNI) and the Indonesian police (POLRI), in all these cases, it has been virtually impossible to bring them before a court of law. In the case of those incidents that were actually taken to court, nothing was done to side with the victims; the perpetrators were protected with the argument that what had been done was in the interest of the security of the state."

The NGOs made specific reference to particularly egregious incidents in which Papuans were killed, brutally tortured or disappeared. These include the June 2001 Wasior and 2008 Wamena incidents, a police rampage in Abepura, as well as repeated military "sweeping operations" in West Papua's central highlands in which civilians were driven from their homes into local forests where many died due to a lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. The NGOs also detailed policies and practices which subject "many Papuans to discrimination, intimidation and extra-judicial punishment based on groundless charges by Government agencies that these Papuans, or their family members are "separatists."

The two NGOs issued the following demands:

1. The President of Indonesia should immediately resolve the Wasior and Wamena cases and in doing so recognize the fact that Papuans are citizens of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, NKRI which means that their standing and dignity within the state is in keeping with the values of the Papuan people as citizens of Indonesia.

2. The attorney-general's office should end its machinations with regard to the Wasior and Wamena cases and co-ordinate with other state institutions and in so doing halt their activities which have resulted in reinforcing the cycle of impunity.

3. The administration of the province of Papua, along with the DPRP (Provincial Legislature of Papua), KomnasHAM-Papua and the MRP (The Papuan Peoples Council) should act together as quickly as possible to ensure that the Wasior and Wamena incidents are brought before a human rights court in the Land of Papua.

4. A Papuan human rights court should be set up immediately.

5. If the government fails to deal seriously with the Wasior and Wamena cases, we, as representatives of all the victims of human rights violations in the Land of Papua, will bring these matters before an international court of law.

In a separate June 17 press conference, the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua, comprising leading human rights and religious organizations spoke out against "acts of violence and terror that have been perpetrated against human rights defenders as well as against journalists."

The coalition includes KomnasHAM-Papua, the Synod of the Kingmi Church in Papua, the Synod of the Baptist Church in Papua, Foker NGO (NGO Working Group) Papua, KontraS Papua, LBH - Legal Aid Institute in Papua, and BUK. The organizations were especially critical of the Indonesian military whose members were involved in five recent incidents of violence against Papuan civilians and whose actions they noted, contradict claims that the Indonesian military is engaged in a process of reform.

The Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua therefore issued the following statement:

1. Protection is needed for human rights defenders in Papua in carrying out their humanitarian activities throughout the Land of Papua. Such protection can be provided by the introduction of a special law, while at the same time setting up an independent commission at state level for the purpose of monitoring and advocacy as well as taking sanctions against those individuals who commit violence against human rights defenders.

2. As a short-term measure, we regard it as important to set up a special bureau within KomnasHAM to focus on the protection of human rights defenders.

3. In view the many acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces, we urge the military commander of Cenderawasih XVII military command (in West Papua) to take firm measures in the law courts and administration against all violations perpetrated by members of the TNI on the ground.

4. To provide moral guidance to all officers of the armed forces as well as disseminate an understanding of human rights so as to ensure that acts of violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces are not committed against civil society or against human rights defenders in the Land of Papua.

Indonesia has clearly failed to ensure justice in multiple cases of gross violations of human rights in West Papua and to protect Papuans defending their human rights violate the Indonesian government's legal obligations contained within international agreements to which it is party, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably articles 6, 7 and 8.

These abuses, policies and practices, as well as others not mentioned specifically by the NGOs and religious organizations have been carefully documented and condemned in United Nations reports, reports by other governments, and by leading international human rights organizations.

These international reports also include accounts of egregious government abuse, including the 1998 Biak tragedy and the Indonesian government's incarceration of scores of political prisoners. Many of these political prisoners experienced targeted abuse and mistreatment that exceeded even the brutality meted out to criminal prisoners. International accounts of the failure of justice in Indonesia have also condemned the continued use of provisions of the Indonesian criminal code which form the basis for charges of "subversion" (such as Article 106 of the code). This was a legal tool of the Suharto dictatorship to repress freedom of speech and has its antecedents in Dutch colonial rule.

We, the undersigned organizations express our strong solidarity with and support for these courageous appeals made by these Papuan non-governmental and religious organizations. We pledge to pressure our individual governments and international organizations to press the Indonesian government to act positively and immediately on these demands for justice and the protection of human rights defenders.

Endorsed by
Tapol (UK)
West Papua Advocacy Team (USA)
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) (USA)

Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
Asia Pacific Action (USA)
Asia Pacific Support Collective (Australia)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Australia East Timor Friendship Association Inc
Australian West Papua Association South Australia (Inc)
Baltimore Nonviolence Center (USA)
Campaign for Peace and Democracy (USA)
Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) (UK)
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane (Australia )
East Timor Action Network / Portland, Oregon (USA)
East Timor Religious Outreach (USA)
Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA)
Foundation Dr. F.C. Kamma, the Netherlands
Foundation Pro Papua, The Netherlands
Green Delaware (USA)
Indonesia Human Rights Committee, Auckland (New Zealand)
Indonesian Solidarity (Australia)
THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy (USA)
International League for Human Rights
KontraS (Indonesia)
Land is Life Luta Hamutuk Institute (Timor-Leste)
Madison-Ainaro (East Timor) Sister-City Alliance, Madison, WI (USA) Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre, Australia
Nonviolence International Office of the Americas (USA)
Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand
Pax Christi Australia
Pax Christi Metro New York (USA)
Pax Christi, New Orleans (USA)
People's Empowerment Consortium (PEC), Indonesia
Philippine Workers Support Committee (USA)
Press for Change (USA)
Seattle CISPES
Seattle International Human Rights Coalition (SIHRC) (USA)
Swedish Association of Free Papua
Swedish East Timor Committee
Syracuse Peace Council (USA)
Urban Poor Consortium, Indonesia
War Resisters League (USA)
West Papua Action Network, Canada
West Papua Action Network / US
West Papua Media (Australia)
West Papua Network (WPN), Germany
The West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane (Australia )
John Feffer, co-director, Foreign Policy In Focus*
Sharon Silber, U.S. Representative, Society for Threatened Peoples
Eileen B. Weiss, Co-Founder, Jews Against Genocide (U.S.)
Shulamith Koenig, People's Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE)

*organization for identification only

Paul Barber - +44-1420-80153,
Ed McWilliams - +1-575-648-2078,
John M. Miller +1-718-596-7668,