Friday, May 20, 2016

1) Match words with action on Papua abuses

2) Amnesty presses Indonesia for release of Papuan activist
3) Govt Vows to Settle Papua Rights Abuses by End of 2016
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1) Match words with action on Papua abuses
Andreas Harsono Jakarta | Thu, May 19 2016 | 07:02 am

The detention of more than 1,500 Papuan independence supporters on May 2 for “lacking a permit to hold a rally” speaks volumes of the government’s stubbornly problematic approach to dealing with dissent in the restive territory of Papua. This approach has for decades provided impunity for security forces, despite their abuses against Papuans and turned dozens of those exercising their universal rights to freedom of expression and association into political prisoners.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has promised Papuans a change, beginning with “an open dialogue for a better Papua”. But aside from the release of a few political prisoners, there has been barely any signs of meaningful change on the ground in Papua. 

Jokowi’s December 2014 pledge to thoroughly investigate and punish security forces implicated in the death of five peaceful protesters in the Papuan town of Enarotali that month has remained unfulfilled. And the Indonesian bureaucracy continues to obstruct international media from freely reporting in Papua despite the President’s May 2015 declaration to lift the decades-old restrictions.

Last month the government announced a new approach to Papua’s long history of serious rights abuses and lack of accountability: It was going to try to resolve them.

On April 20 chief security minister Luhut Pandjaitan opened a one-week meeting in Jakarta, which was attended by more than 20 human rights activists and ethnic Papuan officials from Papua and West Papua, along with officials from the National Police, the Attorney General’s Office ( AGO ) and various ministries. 

The meeting followed increasing international scrutiny of Indonesia’s human rights record in Papua, including a September 2015 proposal by the Pacific Islands Forum, a political grouping of 16 Pacific nation states, for a possible human rights “fact finding mission” in Papua.

The meeting aimed to develop a roadmap to investigation and resolution of a number of the region’s most serious human rights abuses. The initiative was a follow-up to Jokowi’s commitment in December 2014 to seek an end to human rights violations in Papua.

The government has compiled a 17-page report detailing 11 high-priority human rights cases in Papua that it aims to solve. They include the Biak massacre in July 1998, when security forces opened fire on participants of a peaceful flag-raising ceremony on the island, the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that left dozens killed and thousands displaced and the forced disbandment of the Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011 that left three people dead and hundreds injured.

The government has also prioritized individual cases such as the disappearance of Aristoteles Masoka, the driver of murdered Papuan leader Theys Eluay in November 2001. Although Eluay’s body was found inside his car, and seven Army Special Forces soldiers were convicted in 2003 for the murder, Masoka has never turned up.

The list is an encouraging sign that the government recognizes the role of the security forces in human rights abuses in Papua and the need for accountability. However, mass killings that took place between the 1960s and 1970s, including a military operation in 1977-1978 against Free Papua Movement ( OPM ) insurgents that allegedly involved indiscriminate aerial bombings and strafing, have been deliberately omitted.

Papuan activists have also called for investigations into the killing of anthropologist-cum-musician Arnold Ap in April 1984 and rights abuses linked to the Indonesian security forces in the lead-up to the July 1969 UN-sponsored referendum that resulted in a much-contested unanimous vote for continued integration with Indonesia.

The government’s plan to resolve these cases involves deploying agencies including the National Police, the AGO, the National Commission on Human Rights ( Komnas HAM ) and the military police to investigate. The plan specifies the need for compensation for survivors and victims’ families for incidents in which the evidence clearly indicates the culpability of government officials and security forces. 

Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw, the Papua Police chief, has promised to prosecute individuals implicated in those abuses. The government has yet to publicly disclose a timeline for these investigations. 

Papua’s troubled history and ongoing serious human rights abuses demand a meaningful government response to both address the crimes of the past and to enact measures to prevent future abuses. The ongoing low-level conflict with the small and disorganized OPM obligates the government to ensure security for the population. 

Security forces repeatedly fail to distinguish between violent acts and peaceful expression of political views. The government has denounced flag-raisings and other peaceful expressions of pro-independence sentiment in Papua as treasonous. Heavy-handed responses to peaceful activities have resulted in numerous human rights violations.

In the past eight years, Human Rights Watch has documented dozens of cases in which police, military, intelligence officers, and prison guards have used unnecessary or excessive force when dealing with Papuans exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and association. 

The government also frequently arrests and prosecutes Papuan protesters for peacefully advocating independence or other political change. More than 35 Papuan activists are in prison on treason charges. 

Human Rights Watch takes no position on Papuan claims to self-determination, but opposes imprisonment of people who peacefully express support for self-determination.

Papuans are likely to be skeptical of Luhut’s plan to resolve past human rights abuses unless the positive rhetoric is matched by meaningful investigations and prosecutions for those crimes.
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The writer is a researcher for the Human Rights Watch.

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2) Amnesty presses Indonesia for release of Papuan activist
4:06 pm today
Amnesty International is pressing Indonesia to release a West Papuan political prisoner detained six weeks ago.
Steven Itlay has been charged with rebellion, or makar, after participating in a prayer event in Mimika, Papua province, in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Mr Itlay is a member of the West Papua National Committee, which is a part of the Liberation Movement.
Indonesian officials have vowed to 'wipe out' what they describe as separatist elements in Papua.
However Amnesty International is concerned that the activist could face life imprisonment, and has called on Jakarta to urge local authorities in Papua to release Mr Itlay immediately and unconditionally.

Call for probe of Papua disappearance

Police in Indonesia's Papua have been urged to investigate the disappearance of Aristoteles Masoka, who was the driver of late leader, Theys Eluay.
Mr Eluay was killed by members of Indonesia's special forces in November 2001, and four men were jailed for it.
Aristoteles' father Yonas Masoka said his son went missing at the age of 21 while working as a driver to help fund his studies.
The Human Rights Commission says 12 human rights violations need to be investigated.
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3) Govt Vows to Settle Papua Rights Abuses by End of 2016
By : Alin Almanar | on 6:11 PM May 19, 2016

Jakarta. The Indonesian government is optimistic about settling at least 12 cases of human rights abuses in the far eastern province of Papua by the end of this year, a senior minister said on Wednesday (18/05).
The long-awaited resolution means members of the police and military will likely be implicated, but Chief Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan vowed that it would be conducted in a transparent manner.
"It doesn't matter who the perpetrators were. We'll reveal everything," Luhut said on Wednesday, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara. "If they are proven to have committed any wrongdoing, they'll be prosecuted."
Four of the cases will be settled by the Papua Police, while the rest will be resolved by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General's Office.
Komnas HAM commissioner M. Imdadun Rahman said he hopes the resolution could be followed up by a long-term commitment to uphold human rights in Papua.
"It should also be able to ensure that abuses will not occur again," Imdadun said.
Meanwhile, Adriana Elisabeth of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) warned that it would take a long time before this commitment to become a reality.
"The government and Papuans should first seek agreement on what constitutes a dialog," Adriana told Jakarta Globe. "Only after that, they may work together on human rights issues."
Independence activists in Papua have been involved in a low-level insurgency for decades. They accuse the central government of neglecting  the resource-rich region with regard to human and infrastructure development since it became part of Indonesia in 1969.
The government has been using military force to suppress dissent in the restive province, leading to rampant human rights abuses.
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