Tag Archives: Civil and political rights

Papuans Behind Bars October 2014: ‘Bloody Yotefa’: police turn a blind eye to violence against indigenous Papuans

From our partners at Papuans Behind Bars, with additional reporting from West Papua Media and JPIC

17 November 2014

At the end of October 2014, there were at least 69 political prisoners in
Papuan gaols.

At least 46 members of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) were arrested in Jayapura and Merauke this month for participating in peaceful demonstrations. The demonstrators were urging the Indonesian government to release two French journalists who faced trial for breaching immigration rules.

In likely reference to the Social Organisations Law (RUU Organisasi Kemasyarakatan, RUU Ormas), police claimed during the mass arrests that the KNPB is an illegal organisation as it is not registered with the Department of National Unity and Politics (Kesatuan Bangsa dan Politik, Kesbangpol) and affiliated symbols or attributes are also therefore illegal. Last June, police conducted a mass arrest in Boven Digoel under the same auspices.  Indonesian human rights group Imparsial challenged the shutting down of peaceful demonstrations in Jayapura and Merauke, stating that freedom of expression in Papua is the worst in Indonesia, particularly when it comes to the treatment of KNPB rallies. The criminalisation of peaceful demonstrations, often under the auspices of the Ormas Law, restricts democratic space and stigmatises Papuan civil society groups.

On 27 October, two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine
Bourrat, were released after 11 weeks in detention. However, Lanny Jaya
tribal leader Areki Wanimbo, who was arrested alongside the pair, still
faces charges of conspiracy to commit treason. Lawyers from the Democracy Alliance for Papua (Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua, ALDP) have stated that the legal process for Wanimbo has been fraught with irregularities and that his case has been handled unprofessionally. Wanimbo faces charges different to those he was first accused of, and unsuitable evidence was used to build a case against him. The decision to impose a two-and-a-half-month prison sentence on the two journalists instead of acquitting them was a harsh blow for the campaign to open access to Papua. As noted by Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono, foreign journalists face a complex system of applying for visas to Papua, which requires the approval of 18 different government agencies – a process that severely restricts journalistic access. It remains to be seen whether Indonesian president Joko Widodo will make good on his promise of opening access to Papua.

Bloody Yotefa

In our July update we raised concerns regarding an incident which has come to be known as ‘Bloody Yotefa,’ that took place on 2 July at Yotefa market in Abepura. Early reports stated that three Papuan men were killed following a police raid on a gambling den at Yotefa market.  At least four Papuan men from the Central Highlands were tortured and 40 people arrested according to a Report from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC) of the Evangelical Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Injili, GKI). Following the raid on the market, police arrested and handed over two Papuans, including a 14-year-old boy, to a mob of non-indigenous Papuans who publicly tortured and beat them while police stood by, later continuing the job themselves at Bhayangkara Police Hospital. While police beatings, torture and killings of indigenous Papuans are not new phenomena, the public involvement of non-indigenous mobs to achieve this is a particular low point.

Bloody Yotefa challenges the government perspective that torture and killings are carried out by a rogue police in isolated cells, showing instead that these arbitrary violations are becoming social events in which the non-indigenous community can participate. This dynamic
perpetuates a culture of fear and domination in which indigenous Papuans are exposed to constant risk of public violence, even in traditionally ‘safe’ spaces such as hospitals and university campuses. Police discrimination and profiling of indigenous Papuans, especially those who come from the Central Highlands, makes them still more vulnerable to public torture, violence and arbitrary arrest.

You can read the full update here:

Papuans Behind Bars team

Komnas HAM warns of human rights violations in Puncak Jaya

Bintang Papua, 20 January 2012Human rights violations are occurring in PuncakThe Papua branch of Komnas HAM, the Indonesian Commission for Human Rights, has confirmed that human rights violations have been occurring in Puncak. These include a number of deaths that have occurred during this prolonged conflict.

‘While not yet knowing the motive or who was responsible, the killings were clearly human rights violations. Lives were lost which is an indication that the right to life has been ignored.,’ said Matius Murib, deputy chairman of the Komnas HAM Papua branch. He made the statement after attending a Forces Group Discussion on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ECOSOC) held by the Papuan branch of Komnas HAM.

When lives are lost, human rights are certainly violated.  No need to ask about the motive as this goes beyond the power of the Almighty. The state or government have no right to destroy life, which is totally without justification .’ The right to life  comes only from God and no one has the right to kill people,’ he said.

In this Puncak case, those involved were planning to conduct investigations in February and were planning to visit the site of the killings, in order to make recommendations to the authorities. Murib said that he could not make any comments until they had visited the site

Responding to a question about whether the government had been responsible fir triggering the conflict, he said that such a charge would need to be investigated. If this turns out to the true, then some individual or institution that had been granted powers by the state had failed o take action quickly enough to prevent the incident from occurring, and this is matter for KomnasHAM to issue a charge.

He recognised that  according to investigations reported in the media, there were indeed actions by the government and related persons, and the question was, why had the conflict occurred and why were casualties still occurring. ‘It is our task to investigate whether actions were taken by the state and whether they were   justified.’

As has previously been reported, the conflict that relates to the election of the head of the district of Puncak and has resulted in 49 casualties among the local community since 30 July 2011. This conflict was still on-going up until 14 January 2012 in the district and the government has not made any efforts to resolve it, nor have the police done anything to resolve the conflict, which is being described as a tribal war between people living in the Central Highlands. It relates to an internal dispute within the political party called Gerindra, between a number of candidates. Gerindra has turned this internal conflict into a conflict between the commnity in general  which has paralysed all development activities there.