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UN intervention sought over Indonesian 'abuses' in Papua

Amnesty International to submit a report detailing violations to the rights commission in Geneva

UN intervention sought over Indonesian 'abuses' in Papua

Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia (center), and activists hand over boxes containing messages from Indonesian people urging President Joko Widodo to settle human rights abuse cases during International Human Rights Day on Dec 10, 2019. (Photo supplied)

Amnesty International Indonesia says it will submit a report detailing human rights abuses allegedly committed in Papua during the next meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

The 129th session of the commission that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will take place from June 29 to July 24 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said cases that have not been settled by the Indonesian government will be reported to the global human rights body.

The report titled “Civil and Political Rights Violation in Papua and West Papua” will focus on extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and other abuses connected to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, racial discrimination and political prisoners.

Other issues concern the right to a fair trial, restrictions on media freedom and forced internal displacement. 

“Indonesian authorities have failed to distinguish people who peacefully advocate for the right to self-determination from those who use violence or incite discrimination, hostility or violence,” Hamid told UCA News on June 6.  

On extrajudicial killings, Amnesty has detailed 95 cases allegedly committed by security forces against civilians in Papua since 2010.

All happened when security forces used excessive force to handle peaceful protests, incidents of public disorder and attempts to arrest criminal suspects, or as a form of misconduct by individual members of the security forces, Amnesty said in the report.

On freedom of peaceful assembly and association, it said, at least 96 people were arrested for exercising these rights in connection with racist incidents in Malang and Surabaya, East Java, last year.

On political prisoners, Amnesty said there are still at least 50 Papuan prisoners of conscience behind bars for peacefully exercising their human rights. All of them were charged with treason.

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“The authorities use this charge to sentence a person to life imprisonment or a maximum of 20 years,” it said.

On forced internal displacement, it pointed to 5,000 people still living as refugees in Papua’s Nduga district after they fled violence after 28 construction workers were killed by an armed separatist group on Dec 2, 2018. 

The army launched a major operation in the region in response, resulting in thousands of people having to flee their homes. 

On restrictions on media freedom, Amnesty said, the government has for years been unduly restricting media freedom and targeting journalists and other media workers as well as limiting foreign journalists’ access to Papua.

In May 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised to allow foreign journalists into Papua. However, they are still subject to many restrictions and face harassment while reporting in Papua, the rights group said. 

Emanuel Gobay, a human rights activist in Papua, welcomed Amnesty’s move. “We hope it will open the government’s eyes and remind them of their obligation to protect the human rights of its people, including Papuans,” the director of the Legal Aid Institute in Papua told UCA News.

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