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The importance of dialogue and human rights in Papua

Without meaningful discussions promoting human dignity and peace will not be possible in restive Indonesian region

Justin L Wejak

Justin L Wejak

Published: December 08, 2020 05:42 AM GMT

Updated: December 08, 2020 05:43 AM GMT

The importance of dialogue and human rights in Papua

A Papuan activist attends a protest in Surabaya, Indonesia on Dec 1, 2020, to mark the Free Papua Organization anniversary. (Photo: Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

It has recently been reported that the UN Office of Human Rights has again asked Indonesia to address the issue of rights violations in Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua 

There have been a number of recorded cases of violence in recent months. Among them include the shooting of a 17-year-old teenager in November, and the killings of six possibly more people in October and September. Among the victims were activists, church workers, migrant residents, as well as members of the security apparatus.

Reverend Yeremias Zanambani, a Christian missionary, was also a victim. Who was responsible for his death is yet to be confirmed. There is a claim that he was allegedly murdered by members of the Indonesian army, but this has been strongly denied by the force. His death caused deep concern due to his position in the community.

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In Melanesian culture, the murder of a religious leader not only hurts the entire community but is seen as akin to killing God. Their local collective identity, closely attached to cultural-religious symbols and leaders, is regarded as under attack. Fully reconciling with the community affected by the murder is going to be a challenge for Indonesia.

Many human rights activists have also been arrested in recent months. At least 84 people, including Wensislaus Fatuban, an activist and advocate for human rights for the Papuan People's Council (MRP) and seven members of the MRP staff, have been detained.

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