Wednesday, February 7, 2018

1) UN Human Rights Chief to Examine Rights Abuses in Papua

2) Papua Health Crisis Prompts International Scrutiny, Internal Review
3) UN urges Jakarta to hold the line on human rights

1) UN Human Rights Chief to Examine Rights Abuses in Papua
By : Sheany | on 9:16 PM February 07, 2018
Jakarta. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights said on Wednesday (07/02) that he will send a mission to Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, following reports of abuses against its indigenous population.
"I am also concerned about reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein told reporters in Jakarta during his three-day visit to Indonesia.
He added that the Indonesian government has extended an invitation to the UN to visit Papua — the country's poorest region.

"I think it's important for us to go and see ourselves what is happening there … and I hope we can do this as soon as possible," Al-Hussein said.

Accounts of rights violations in Papua have prompted concerns from activists and the larger international community. The government was earlier accused of restricting access for foreign correspondents to the region.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has prioritized development in Papua through massive infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the province's economic growth.
More recently, dozens of Papuans – mostly children – died from malnutrition-related diseases in the province's Asmat district. The health crisis has led to allegations that the government's focus on development in the region does not serve the welfare of its population.

"They [the UN] can visit Papua. I told them that if they find faults, we will take action [to address them]," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said after his meeting with Al-Hussein on Tuesday.

2) Papua Health Crisis Prompts International Scrutiny, Internal Review
February 07, 2018 8:48 AM 

Twin crises of measles and malnutrition have recently afflicted Indonesia’s easternmost province, Papua, inciting foreign and media scrutiny as well as internal review from the Indonesian government. Papua is an impoverished but mineral-rich province with a history of separatist struggle, which has been quashed for decades by the Indonesian military. This week, the nation’s health ministry declared both crises to be under control, but 72 people have already died in Asmat regency.
In wake of the outbreaks, finance minister Sri Mulyani said that special autonomy funding for the province would be reevaluated. Per a 2001 law, the sometimes-contested provinces of Aceh, Papua, and West Papua were authorized to receive twenty years of special funding from the national budget. But Mulyani said the public health issues showed that the money was not being used well.
“This is a lesson for us, because throughout this time the special autonomy funds have been disbursed as a block grant to the provincial government — even though special autonomy has specific purposes,” she said last week.

Measles is preventable with a vaccine, and is actually covered by Indonesia’s national vaccination program for children. So the afflicted children in Asmat constitute an oversight. About 650 children there still have measles and at least 223 suffer from malnutrition according to the health ministry website. Papua has long lagged behind Indonesia on nearly every public health valence, with the country’s lowest life expectancy and highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates.
Press freedom
Social issues in Papua are doubly hard to address because of constrained press freedom there. Last week, a BBC reporter, Rebecca Henschke, who went to report from Asmat, was detained by the military and local immigration after she tweeted photos of the food aid being delivered to malnourished children: biscuits, instant noodles. The military claimed the tweets were inaccurate and after being subjected to two days of questioning, Henschke and her team decided to return to Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced when he came to office that journalists should feel free to travel to and report from Papua, but in practice, the likelihood of harassment and surveillance like the Henschke incident remain high.
“The current system pressures journalists to limit reporting on Papua, and signals to the military and police that journalists can be interfered with,” wrote Andreas Harsono, of Human Rights Watch Indonesia. “President Jokowi should insist on the implementation of his decision to end restrictions on access to Papua. He should also prohibit the security forces from arresting journalists for doing their jobs. After all, the government could simply have responded to Henschke with a clarifying tweet or statement, as opposed to detaining and questioning her.’’
Reevaluating Papua
The finance minister’s statement indicates publicity from the widely declaimed crises may have potential to harness public opinion to effect changes in Papua.
“Of course” these events will bring the social problems in Papua to greater light, said Harsono. Public pressure can work to impact government policy, he said, “but it should be bigger and longer than what it currently is.” He mentioned a 2005 malnutrition crisis in Yahukimo, Papua that received a degree of public attention. “Today, at least 14 regencies still have similar problems, malnutrition and low vaccination rates.”

Ruth Ogetay, a sometime Papuan activist who works as a nurse in Jakarta, was less hopeful. “This is not going to bring any social changes to Papua.” There are many structural issues with public health in the province, like a critical shortage of doctors in Asmat since the regency was established 15 years ago. But addressing such issues has taken a backseat to controlling protests and riots, particularly around the mines run by the American corporation Freeport-Mcmoran. The company runs the world’s largest gold mine, Grasberg, near Timika regency, and its work sites have attracted unrest since Indonesia announced plans to nationalize its resources last year. Just last week, Indonesian police fatally shot a 61-year-old woman in Mimika near a Freeport-Mcmoran cargo dock. Thus if any improvements to social services are made going forward, they will have to accommodate such a highly charged political climate.


3) UN urges Jakarta to hold the line on human rights
  • The Australian

AMANDA HODGE South East Asia correspondentJakarta
The UN Human Rights chief has urged Indonesia not to go “backwards on human rights” by introducing laws banning sex outside marriage and gay sex, and warned of “rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence” across the country.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said while Indonesia was “one of the most progressive states in the region on human rights”, he was deeply concerned by proposed revisions to the country’s criminal code that would criminalise large sections of the poor, who did not have marriage certificates, and the marginalised.
“These discussions betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture that have made inroads here,” Prince Zeid said at the end of a three-day visit to Jakarta, where he met President Joko Widodo, senior ministers and activists.
“LGBTI Indonesians already face increasing stigma, threats and intimidation. The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions,” he said.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said he had discussed the issue with Mr Joko, who told him Indonesia would stand by its obligations to all its people but also that there was a “mood inside the country regarding LGBTI”.
“If we expect not to be discriminated against on the basis of our religious beliefs, colour, race or gender, if Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too,” Prince Zeid said, adding he did not accept the argument that “this is our culture”.
“If it is the culture, it would have been there from the very beginning. If it’s being introduced, now it has come from somewhere else,” he said.
Representatives from Indonesia’s 10 political parties will meet tomorrow to seek consensus on the legal revisions, which are among 800 amendments proposed by a parliamentary committee reviewing the country’s 100-year-old criminal code.
If all are agreed, the bill could be sent to the House of Representatives for a vote as early as this month.
The proposed laws are part of a wider wave of hostility towards the LGBTI community that increasingly has been targeted by Indonesian politicians seeking political advantage by appealing to rising conservative Islamic sentiments.
Last week police in Aceh, the only Indonesian province that enforces sharia law, raided transgender beauty salons, cut the hair of 12 transgender women and forced them to act “like men”.
Prince Zeid said other areas of concern were the country’s “ill-defined blasphemy law” — used to jail ethnic ­Chinese, Christian former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama — its drug laws, and human rights violations in West Papua province and against communities displaced by large-scale logging and mining interests.

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