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Activists slam govt's UN denial

False picture of abuses and intolerance painted at rights review, they say

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

May 24, 2012

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The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence has criticized the government for its denial and inaccurate portrayal of Indonesia’s rights record before a UN review body yesterday. Commission coordinator Haris Azhar said the government’s responses to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council (UHRC) in Geneva illustrated its reluctance to take concrete action against human rights abuses which are in fact on the rise – especially in Papua. “Cases of intolerance, impunity and violence keep occurring. There is no progress,” Azhar said today. He said the urgent issues which need addressing include the repression of freedom of religion, intolerance resulting in violence, the absence of justice  for past abuses, and the worsening rights situation in restive Papua province. He expressed disbelief at Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa’s statement to the UN that Indonesia rigorously upholds freedom of religion or belief. “The fact is the situation is not like that. Intolerance is still strong in Indonesia. Saying that Indonesia is a pluralist and tolerant country is no longer relevant,” he asserted. The commission also took exception to Natalegawa’s assertion that the situation in Papua is “stable.” “Papua is still experiencing serious human rights violations,” Azhar maintained. Father Johanes Djonga, a Yap Thiam Hien award-winning priest serving in Papua, was also critical of the government’s statements to the UN review. “There are many cases of violence and torture which are not dealt with openly,” he said. The Yap Thiam Hien award is a human rights prize named after a prominent Indonesian rights lawyer who died in 1989. The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states every four years under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. It provides each state the opportunity to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. Related stories Rights groups condemn intolerance Rights groups want end to violence

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