Father Neles Tebay Kebadabi (second from left) receives the Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award
Human rights organizations including the Asian Human Rights Commission and Franciscans Internationa, have appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to help promote peaceful dialogue to end ongoing violence in Indonesia’s Papuan provinces. “We call on the Human Rights Council to urge the government of Indonesia to actively engage in peaceful dialogue under neutral mediation … to find a sustainable solution for all people living in Papua,” they said in a joint statement on Wednesday. Their call echoes that of Lambert Pekikir, head of the main Papuan independence movement, who said earlier this month that the conflict in Papua can only be resolved with UN involvement. The rights groups said persecution of activists under the cover of anti-terrorism measures since last year has resulted in arbitrary arrests and fabrication of charges aimed at silencing human rights defenders in Papua and West Papua provinces. The rights organizations cited several cases of violence that allegedly occurred in Papua this year. On March 2, Reverend Yunus Gobai, a former leader of the Protestant KINGMI Maranatha Nabire Church, was allegedly beaten and arrested by police in Papua’s Paniai district. Police later demanded 1 million rupiah (US$105) for his release even though no criminal charges were laid against him. On February 15, seven Papuans were arrested in Depapre and taken to a police station in Jayapura. They were allegedly tortured while being interrogated about activists forced into hiding. “We deplore the ongoing violence in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia,” the rights organizations said in the statement. Father Neles Tebay Kebadabi, who on Wednesday received South Korea’s Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award, emphasized that improving dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is the best and most dignified means of seeking a just and peaceful solution to violence in the Papuan provinces. “We want many people and institutions, both from within and from outside Indonesia, to be friends of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua,” the coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network said.
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