Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Authoritarian style show of force at Third Papuan People's Congress

Press release from AHRC +Jakarta Globe report below



INDONESIA: Authoritarian style show of force at Third Papuan People's Congress

October 19, 2011

(Hong Kong, Jayapura, October 19, 2011) About 100 TNI soldiers and several members of the mobile brigade of the police (BRIMOB) are reported to have approached closer to the location where the Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura, Papua is currently being held. The organisers fear that the mass violence frequently perpetrated by the armed forces and police may be repeated in this event.

Some journalists are reported to have been blocked from accessing the area and reporting on the event.

The West Papua National Committee called for this Third Papuan People's Congress and one of the aims of the Congress is to select a new leadership.

"This heavy and disproportional deployment of force is a threat to the security of a peaceful gathering of indigenous Papuan people," said Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission. He went on to say, "It is the duty of the Indonesian authorities to protect their right to freedom of expression and assembly and to refrain from causing any intimidations or making threats."

Thousands of indigenous Papuans joined a march in Jayapura/Abepura to inaugurate the event earlier this week. An estimated 4000 persons are reported to currently being attending the event on its third day. However, several expected participants have either left the location or decided not to attend following the heavy and intimidating show of force by the army and police. About 2200 members of the security forces were reported to have been mobilised in the wider Jayapura area.

On this third day of the event, four police cars, two armoured vehicles from the police and a further two armoured vehicles from the mobile brigades of the police (BRIMOB) have approached the area. More than a hundred members of the security forces have formed a cordon at the fence at the outdoor location at a 2m distance.

"For more than 50 years now, the Papuan people have not had the space to talk about their identity. As a democratic country, Indonesia should ensure public space to discuss diversity. Threats and intimidations should have no space in a country that has overcome authoritarian rule," said Markus Haluk, a civil society leader.

Organisers fear that an intensification of the unspoken threat of action by the security forces may escalate the situation and result in many persons being injured or even killed by the ensuing violence.


Brimob, Military Out in Force for Last Day of Papuan Congress
Jakarta Globe | October 19, 2011

Hundreds of Brimob and military troops, along with Panser armored vehicles like the ones pictured above, greeted shocked participants of the annual Papuan Congress in Jayapura on Wednesday. (Antara Photo)

Participants of the Papuan Congress in the provincial capital of Jayapura were shocked at being greeted at the venue by five armored vehicles and hundreds of heavily armed police and military officers, an attendee of the congress said on Wednesday.

“Three tanks belong to the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) of the Papua Police and the others are the military’s,” a participant named Oktovianus told the Jakarta Globe.

The meeting, held annually to push for the rights of indigenous Papuans among the many disparate tribes there, has been ongoing since Monday. More than 5,000 participants from 234 tribes in Papua have been in attendance.

The event was scheduled to enter its last day on Wednesday at 9 a.m., but as participants arrived at the field in Padang Bulan Abepura where the congress has been held, they were greeted by the show of force from the police and military, Oktovianus said.

He added that the unannounced and heavy security presence unnerved some participants but that scheduled events went on as planned.

“The congress must go on because this is what every indigenous Papuan from Sorong to Merauke wants,” he said.

“The congress discussed the rights of the indigenous Papuans, especially political rights,” Oktovianus said.

Organizers, he added, had notified the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs about the congress well in advance.

“The central government had been informed about the event, as well as the National Police and the military, two weeks before the congress.”

However, he said, no permission had been granted by any of those institutions to hold the event.

“The worst possibility is that we will be forcefully dismissed, but we hope everything is going to be fine,” he said.

Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch urged the military not to use violence.

“The Human Rights Watch condemns any forms of violence because violence does not solve the problem,” Andreas said.

“The congress participants may speak of sensitive issues but they do it peacefully, no chaos, and no one is harmed,” he said, adding that according to Indonesian law any form of gathering is allowed as long as the police are notified.

“I know such laws do not seem to apply in Papua but I ask the police not to discriminate the Papuans because they are also part of Indonesia,” Andreas said.

The story is developing.


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