Indonesia: Recent outbursts of violence underscore dire need for a rights-based approach to conflict resolution in Papua

Indonesia: Recent outbursts of violence underscore dire need for a rights-based approach to conflict resolution in Papua


Paris-Jakarta-Bangkok, 21 September 2011. The recent spike in violent incidents in Papua in July and August underscore the urgent need for Jakarta to re-assess its military approach to solve the situation of unrest in the region and to place the respect for human rights at the heart of conflict resolution policies and practices, said the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) today.


Kontras recorded at least ten violent clashes between 5 July to 3 August, 2011[1], involving members of the state security forces and local armed groups. Civilians were injured and killed in some of these clashes. Thirteen Papuans were arrested by the police on 31 August in Kampung Nafri, Abepura, for allegedly causing unrest during a religious ceremony. There were also allegations that these 13 individuals were involved in a shooting incident on 3 August, in which three civilians and one TNI soldier were killed. However, local rights groups pointed out that the police made the arrests without properly investigating and substantiating these allegations. These detainees were reportedly tortured while in police custody.

“Freedoms of expression, association and assembly are routinely violated in Papua, which seriously fuels tensions. Besides, gross human rights abuses, such as acts of torture, remain unaccounted for.” said Poengky Indarti, Executive Director of Imparsial.

“While the use of violence to achieve political and other goals is unacceptable, the heavy military presence and the military-centered approach by Jakarta to Papua’s demand for autonomy serve to sideline human rights and do not provide a viable and peaceful solution to the conflict,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

Another element of Jakarta’s security-centered approach is the strict restriction to access to Papua. As a result, peaceful activities of civil society groups and human rights actors operating in Papua are known to be under extensive surveillance by the Indonesian military. This form of intimidation goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups or Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and oversteps the lawful limit of intelligence gathering. Internal documents of the Indonesian military recently obtained and publicized by the media revealed both the extent of this kind of surveillance and the military authorities’ mistrust towards peaceful civil society and human rights activities, which they perceive as a threat to national security.

“Monitoring human rights work is seen by the military as threatening to national security and this bodess ill for the safety of human rights defenders and other peaceful activists in Papua, as they could bear the brunt of harassment and physical intimidation by state security forces under the pretext of fighting separatism,” said Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

Some of the activists and individuals named in the leaked military documents have already faced arrest, detention, and intimidation, such as independence activists Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, who were both arrested and convicted for their role in organizing peaceful demonstrations during which the Morning Star flag, a banned symbol, was raised.

A recent report released by Imparsial estimates that there are more than 14,000 military personnel deployed to Papua. The report identifies the key features of such a military-centered approach by the central government, including the continuous military operations in Papua without adequate parliamentary oversight, deployment of a large number of non-organic troops to Papua, and the addition of new territorial command structure in the region.

In sum, accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by state security forces is still lacking in Papua. In addition, in the few rare cases in which perpetrators were brought to court, they were either acquitted or convicted on lesser charges that do not reflect the gravity of their crimes, such as acts of torture.

The four organizations call on the Indonesian government to:

  • Instruct its military to immediately cease all unlawful surveillance activities in Papua and revise its current draft intelligence bill by incorporating recommendations by civil society and bringing it into line with the Indonesian Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code, as well as international human rights law;
  • Take steps to reduce the heavy presence of non-organic military personnel and their involvement in civil administration in Papua and seriously implement security sector reform;
  • Fully and credibly investigate all past and new allegations of human rights abuses, especially those perpetrated by state security forces, and promptly bring perpetrators to justice;
  • Strengthen civilian oversight and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny of military policies, operations and budget; and
  • Respect the role of human rights defenders and ensure unfettered access to Papua by civil society groups and actors, including foreign and domestic journalists and independent human rights monitors.

[1] The documented violent incidents occurred in Kampong Kalome, Tingginambut district, Puncak Jaya (5 July and 12 July); Mulia, Puncak Jaya (13 July and 21 July); Timika, Mimika (30 July); Illga district, Puncak (30-31 July); Kampung Nafri, Abepura (1 August and 3 August); and Mulia, Puncak Jaya/Wamena (3 August). See documentation by KontraS:

Indonesia gives full backing to Palestinian independence at the United Nations, what about West Papua?


by Victor Yeimo,
International Spokesperson for West Papua National Committee [KNPB]

21st September 2011

[Jayapura]: As the UN General Assembly begins today (21/9) in New York, Indonesia will be in front line of supporting Palestinian efforts to become a member of the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon waves to protestors for West Papua, PIF NZ Sept 2011 (Photo: Henry Yamo/ PMC)

Indonesia has been supporting the Palestinian case ever since they declared their independence. But what about the fate of West Papua which has been under Indonesian rule for half a century?

This week, from 19 to 28 September 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister, Marty Natalegawa, will be representing Indonesia at the UN General Assembly during its 66th session in New York, United States. He previously recalled, in a press release last Thursday (15/9), that Indonesia had recognized the independence of Palestine just a few hours after it had been declared in 1988.

Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of House of Representative’s Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, also stated that agreement had been reached by the Indonesian Parliament and Government, for the full support of Palestinian independence and the Palestinian State bid at the UN General Assembly in New York this week.

As a logic consequence of this backing, Indonesia’s foreign policy should also be shown in its commitment to support the right to independence and the recognition of the sovereignty of the people of West Papua. If Indonesia is aware that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is a state of colonization, then Indonesia has to realize that the occupation of West Papua by Indonesia since 1963 is likewise a state of colonization.

Already too many Palestinians have fallen victims of the Zionist regime of Israel, and already too many West Papuans have fallen victims of the colonialist and militarist regime of Indonesia. It is time for the people of West Papua to set their own destiny, in the same way that the Palestinian people, the people of South Sudan, Kosovo, and others, are deciding their own.

Indonesia as a member of the United Nations should actively participate in promoting and creating world peace. But, what about the fate of the people of West Papua? It has been a while since Indonesia and the international community decided to look away from the suffering of the people of West Papua. West Papuans continue to be victims of the vested interests of Indonesian colonialism and global capitalism on their land.

Because of those interests, the United Nations and Indonesia have been denying the right of independence to the people of West Papua, a right which should have been granted to them in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 1514, through the Decolonization Committee. Indonesia should welcome the statement of UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon in Auckland, New Zealand, on 7 September 2011, when he stated that the issue of West Papua should be discussed again in the UN decolonization committee, a committee which has several times been chaired by none other than Marty Natalegawa.

Alleged OPM members may be charged with Nafri and Skyland incidents

(West Papua Media Note:  despite reams of evidence available to the contrary that indicated clearly that the Nafri attacks were the work of “unknown persons”, Indonesian police are still refusing to investigate the connections with Indonesian military operations.  The only credible way these trials can proceed is with the presence of international legal observers.  )
See the following Related articles:

Bintang Papua, 19 September 2011

Jayapura: Two Papuans who are allegedly mmbers of TPN/OPM and who are
facing charges in connection with the burning of a taxi and shootings
that occurred in Kampung Nafri as well as at Skyland and were arrested
on 31 August, are now at the stage of processing by the police force in
Jayapura. In order to obtain more documentation about the case, the
police have questioned two further witnesses. The results of these
investigations cannot yet been reveal.

The public relations officer of the police said that other witnesses
were likely to be summoned which may hopefully speed up the handling of
the case. These witnesses were being summoned as they may have seen
people who fled when a group of armed criminals opened fire on local people.

He said that one of the accused has been identified as PK who is alleged
to have been involved in the killing of the driver of the taxi that was
burnt and the other accused, EK was only allegedly involved in the
burning and killing of the taxi driver in Skyland.

‘It is hoped that the questioning of the witnesses will lead to the
identification of other suspects.,’ the official said.

The police say that they intend to continue their investigations and
hunt down other possible perpetrators in the case of the shootings in
Kampung Nafri.

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