Statement of deep concern by Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Papua

Bintang  Papua, 17 June 2011Human rights defenders in Papua very worried

Acts of violence and terror that have been perpetrated against human rights defenders as well as against journalists have led to a  sense of deep concern among human rights NGOs and religious organisations which are members of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of  Papua

The following NGOs held a press conference in Jayapura  on Friday 17 June, to convey their problems:

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, United for Truth.

Foremost among the agencies criticised was the TNI, the Indonesian army whose members were involved in a number of acts of violence. They drew attention in particulate to five incidents that had occurred during the past five months in which members of the TNI were involved:

‘Up to June this year, there have been at least five incidents which reflect the  arrogance and random actions perpetrated by members of the TNI,’ said Olga Hamadi, the co-ordinator of Kontras Papua. Others present at the press conference included the Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Synod of the Kingmi Church in the Land of Papua, Mathius Murib, representative of Komnas HAM-Papua, Eliezer M, LBH-Papua, Julian Howay of the ALDP, and a number of human rights activists.

They said that the much-vaunted  reforms within the TNI were rarely reflected in the activities of members of the TNI on the ground. ‘Is this what the commander of the TNI was praising so profusely during his recent visit to Papua,’ wondered Rev Giay.

Mathius Murib  said that the incident that occurred in Puncak Jaya a few months ago had drawn a great deal of public attention, nationally as well as internationally. [This refers to the acts of torture against Papuans that were circulated by video.]

‘All their talk about Love and Peace is far from been applied by members of the security forces on the ground. Isn’t it time for them to change their tune?’

They said that the continued occurrence of acts of violence and intimidation by members of the TNI is a clear indication that no actions have been taken against members of the TNI who have violated the law.

‘We are concerned about the impact this is having on the reputation of the Indonesian state and wonder  what is being done to protect the rights of human rights defenders,’ said Olga Hamadi.

She said that in cases where members of the TNI had been involved in acts of violence, all that had happened was that they had been moved sideways. ‘Or, in those instances where they had been taken to court, they had appeared before a military tribunal and the verdicts were often unclear or had had little if any effect.,’ said Peneas Lokbere, co-ordinator of BUK.

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 Komnas HAM 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  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.

[Translated by TAPOL]

‘If You Mess With Us You’re Dead’


By Jason MacLeod

indo soldier in west papua

There was nothing clandestine about the beating of human rights activist Yones Douw in West Papua last week. Jason MacLeod reports on the latest in a long pattern of public violence by the Indonesian military

“You can mess with the police,” said the Indonesian soldiers, “but if you try it with us, you’re dead.”

According to witnesses that was what was said to Yones Douw, a 42-year-old Papuan human rights defender as he was beaten with lumps of wood by soldiers from Kodim 1705, Nabire’s District Military Command in the Indonesian province of Papua. Immediately after the beating Douw went to the local Siriwini hospital but was refused treatment. Local staff demanded a letter from the police before they would treat his wounds. Douw now fears for his safety and has gone into hiding.

The incident occurred on the 15 June. Douw, a church worker with the Kingmi Church’s Bureau of Justice and Peace in Nabire, heard that a protest was going to take place at the 1705 District Military Command (Kodim) base in Nabire, Papua province, and he went to the base to monitor it. Thirty minutes after he arrived, a group of protesters turned up in three trucks, broke into the front entrance of the base and started to shatter the windows and throw objects. Douw immediately rushed into the base to calm the protesters.

In response, the military fired shots into the air and started hitting the protesters. Douw was struck on the head with pieces of wood many times. He also sustained injuries on his shoulder and wrists from the beatings. The protesters fled the scene, pursued by members of Kodim 1705 and armed troops from neighbouring Battalion 753. This is what gave Douw time to escape.

Yones Douw was not the accidental victim of some random act of violence. And the protesters he was defending were not some random mob of outraged Papuans or an attack by the Papuan Liberation Army, Papua’s lingering guerrilla force. The attack on the Nabire District Military Command was an expression of a grief stricken family angered at the senseless killing of one of their own. The family wanted to hold the military accountable for the killing of Derek Adii, a man who was beaten to death by soldiers a few weeks earlier.

In mid-May Douw, a chronicler of human rights violations in the troubled Paniai region for some years now, published a report that was picked up by Jubi, West Papua’s only independent news service. Douw’s report detailed the killing of Derek Adii on 14 May 2011. Adii, a 26-year-old Nabire man had just completed his application to join Papua’s burgeoning civil service.

According to Douw’s report, Adii was boarding the crowded passenger vessel KM Labobar at Nabire’s dock when he was beaten by six members of the military. One of the soldiers allegedly pulled out a bayonet and stabbed Adii in the head. The six men then threw his body overboard. Adii died at the scene.

Douw believes he was beaten by the military for retribution — not only for reporting Adii’s killing but also for continuing to shine a spotlight on human rights abuses in West Papua, an area the Indonesian police and military are trying to close off from international scrutiny by locking out journalists and even diplomats.

The circumstances surrounding Adii’s very public murder and Douw’s public beating in the front yard of a military base located on a main road in the middle of a town is typical of the patterns of human rights abuses in West Papua. Australian National University scholar and former Director of the Catholic Office of Justice and Peace in West Papua, Br Budi Hernawan OFM who is studying torture in West Papua, says that torture and human rights abuses in Papua are a kind of “public spectacle”.

In the 400 odd cases of torture that Hernawan has studied it is mostly poor and innocent Papuan civilians are rounded up and publicly abused. The perpetrators are nearly always the Indonesian military and police. It is classic state terror, the purpose of which is to violently pacify the population, to enforce the security apparatus’ control over human bodies and the body politic — and to intimidate and silence Papuan dissent.

It is a script that Yones Douw has refused to buy into. In the meantime other Papuans have stepped into Douw’s shoes. They are now chronicling the military’s attack on him and sending reports out to a domestic and international network in the same way that Douw has been ceaselessly reporting on the human rights abuses of others.

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