Pax Christi International Statement on the Situation in the Papuan Provinces of Indonesia
Human rights issues arising from the transfer of the western half of New Guinea from Netherlands to Indonesia in the 1960s threaten to flare up again if Papuan concerns are not addressed peacefully.
Pax Christi International made a written intervention on the occasion of the 15th session of the Human Rights Council: 13 September – 1 October 2010.
The Human Rights Council should urge the Indonesian Government to enter meaningful negotiations with the leadership of the representative Papuan bodies without pre-conditions and under international mediation.
Recently, political tension in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia has increased, particularly over the past two months as Papuan people across all sectors have openly rejected the 2001 Special Autonomy Law (OTSUS). The high hopes for greater self governance brought about by the autonomy law, have withered away as its implementation is obstructed by the Indonesian authorities. From the start OTSUS has been hamstrung by delays in the Central Government’s empowering regulations and systematic interference by Indonesia’s political and military bureaucracies. Money allocated to the provincial government for development, education and health is being absorbed by a vastly increased bureaucracy as regencies grew from nine to thirty, each with its own military, police and intelligence agencies. Because these funds are depleted by corruption, the maintenance of buildings, public servants’ wages and military operations, healthcare and education are in serious decline. The hopes for greater self governance have also been swamped by the persistent migration from other parts of Indonesia which rendered the Papuans a minority in their own country. The ever growing numbers of police and military personnel, countering any form of Papuan opposition with severe and sometimes deadly force as well as the central government’s plans for clear-felling millions of hectares of rainforest can only confirm the fears of the Papuans for their very survival as a people. The rejection of OTSUS has been accompanied by public demonstrations, including one of more than 20,000 indigenous people in Jayapura on 8 July. Pax Christi International fears that such demonstrations of discontent by indigenous people will lead to increasingly violent suppression by the Indonesian authorities. Recent reports speak of “sweeping” operations in the regency of Punkak Jaya, the central highlands area in the vicinity of major mining operations. This practice, where military units focus on a particular area to “sweep” out any real or suspected resistance to the takeover of land or resources, was already a feature of the early years of Indonesian occupation of West Papua, resulting in extensive loss of life and destruction of indigenous infrastructure.