Human Rights Update West Papua – January 2019, covering October - December 2018

The last quarter of 2018 was characterized by a significant increase in reported political arrests and cases of torture and illtreatment. Police forces conducted mass arrests during various peaceful assemblies. Commemorations were organised in different areas of Indonesia, including Sulawesi Island, Java, Bali and the Moluccans. This indicates that peaceful political activity among civil society not only in West Papua but also in other parts of Indonesia was on the rise by the end of 2018, while police forces continued to severely limit freedom of assembly and freedom of expression for groups that challenge Indonesia’s unitary state doctrine. The increase in cases of torture and ill-treatment should be observed in direct correlation to the growing number of reported political arrests. Police forces continue to use excessive force against protesters and people documenting the abuses. The ICP is so far not aware of any of these cases being further investigated.

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Indonesia not capable to deal with its dark past - Attorney General’s office returns inquiry reports to KOMNAS HAM

On 27 November 2018, the attorney General’s office has once again returned the case files of nine alleged serious human rights abuses to the National Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM) . The cases had been investigated by KOMNAS HAM and were repeatedly submitted to the attorney General’s office for further processing. Among the cases are two serious human rights violations which occurred in West Papua, namely the cases in Wamena (4 April 2003) and Wasior (13 June 2001). The attorney General’s office returned the files with the reason that the evidence in all nine cases was allegedly insufficient to initiate a legal process. The chairman of KOMNAS HAM, Mr. Ahmad Taufik Damanik, stated in a public interview with the Indonesian news magazine TEMPO, that the inquiry reports had been returned without further instructions for completion.

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Update on military operation in Nduga – Number of refugees and reported fatalities among indigenous civilians rising

A widespread military operation has been ongoing in Nduga Regency since 4 December 2018. Many indigenous Papuans have fled into the surrounding forests and neighboring regencies in fear of security force violence. An evacuation team found the bodies of three killed victims in the districts Mbuwa and Dal and confirmed a witness report regarding the killing of another villager by military members. In the district of Mbulmu Yalma, five indigenous villagers – among them two minors – were reported missing since the the military offensive began. Human rights defenders claim, that refugees originate from twelve districts in the Nduga Regency which have been affected by the military operation, namely the districts Mbulmu Yalma, Dal, Yigi, Nirkuri, Yal, Mugi, Mam, Mbuwa, Inikgal, Mapenduma, Kegayem and Meborok. According to the head of Negeyagin District, 407 refugees had sought shelter in the districts Negeyagin, Wutpaga and Kwiyawagi. Other refugees were heading towards the regencies Jayawijaya, Mimika, Asmath and Lani Jaya.

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Update on Nduga Case – Rescue team publishes first report on massacre and military raids

A rescue team consisting of church leaders, Nduga government representatives, local parliament members and civil society figures have published a report on the killing of 17 government contractors. The report also contains information on the rescue mission, which was launched on 13 December 2018  to evacuate the bodies of four more employees who were still missing since the killing. The rescue team collected information on the military raid between 4 and 10 December 2018 and the situation of affected indigenous communities in the districts Mbuwa, Dal and Mbulmu Yalma.

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Attempted criminalisation and intimidation of Papuan human rights defender

The ICP has received credible information regarding the intimidation and attempted criminalisation of female Papuan human rights defender Raga Kogeya (see image on the left). On 18 December 2018, the news outlet BBC Indonesia published a video about the military operation in the Nduga Regency on YouTube. The video contained footage of interviews with indigenous villagers from the Nduga Regency including Raga Kogeya, who originates from the same area. During the interview the human rights activist demanded an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings and the withdrawal of Indonesian security forces from indigenous villages. She mentioned that some indigenous Papuans had been killed by the explosives that the military dropped during the attacks in Nduga.

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The Trans Papua Road - Scientists assess environmental and socio-economic challenges

A team of researchers of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science,  of the James Cook University in Cairns, Australia have published a scientific article on the impacts of the controversial ‘Trans Papua Raod’ project. The article ‘Hidden challenges for conservation and development along the Trans Papuan economic corridor’ provides new insights in the current state of the project implementation and a scientific analysis regarding the environmental, political and socio-economic challenges that West Papua’s flora, fauna and indigenous communities will face as a result of the project. It is expected that the presence of the road will contribute to conditions which are contrary to conservation and sustainable development, with a strong focus on natural resource exploitation and economic growth under exclusion of the Papuan indigenous peoples. The  Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science has also published a video with the title ‘Hidden Challenges of the Trans-Papuan Economic Corridor’, which can be viewed on YouTube. A short summary of the article was published on the website of the ‘Alliance of Leading Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT).

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Joint security forces arrest six activists and disperse worship ceremony at KNPB office in Timika

Human rights defenders and  local media outlets have reported another repressive act against the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a political movement that promotes the right to political self-determination for West Papua through a referendum. The organisation facilitates worships and peaceful demonstrations through its Indonesian-wide network and is among the Papuan civil society  groups which face a high level of criminalization and political persecution by Indonesian law enforcement institutions. On 31 December 2018, joint security forces raided the KNPB office in Timika and arrested the six KNPB activists Finsen Gobay (29 years), Eman Dogopia (27 years), Yohana Kobogauw (39 years), Ruben Kogoya (33 years), Epenus Hisage (29 years) and local KNPB chairman Yanto Awerkion (30 years). A large number of participants had come to the office and attended the new year worship ceremony. At 8.10 pm, approximately 200 joint security force members armed with machine guns circled the KNPB office and forcefully dispersed the peaceful assembly.

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Update on military raid in Nduga Regency - Local Govt launches rescue mission

Two new videos have been published on the internet platform Youtube. The videos provide new insight on the latest situation in the Nduga Regency, where armed clashes between the Indonesian military and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) have caused a high number of casualties among civilians. Until know, security forces are strictly limiting the access to the area – first information about the casualties and the current situation in Nduga remains unconfirmed and uncertain. Human rights defenders and journalists are still not allowed to cover events on site.

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Indonesian Govt denies alleged use of chemical weapons during military operation in Nduga Regency

A controversial article published by the Australian news outlet ‘The Saturday Paper’ alleges that Indonesian troops may have used chemical weapons during an ongoing military operation in the remote highland regency of Nduga. A local group of the ‘West Papua National Liberation Army’ killed at least 17 construction workers on 2 December 2018. The Indonesian army launched a widespread military offensive on 4 December 2018, in an attempt to trace down and prosecute the perpetrators. Eyewitnesses claimed that the infantry was backed up by four helicopters. One helicopter allegedly dropped seven explosives, while the other three helicopters fired large caliber machine guns at various targets, including several villages. It is unclear which types of explosives were used. Eyewitnesses claimed that the projectiles exploded in the sky and subsequently produced a dense smoke.

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Indonesian-wide ‘Trikora’ Commemorations accompanied by mass arrests – at least 107 peaceful protesters arrested, many ill-treated

The 19 December 1961 marks a historic date in Indonesia – it was the date on which the Indonesian army launched the Trikora operation, a military offensive with the aim to seize and annex the former Dutch colonial territory of Netherlands New Guinea. Indigenous Papuans and Pro-Papuan activists in multiple cities throughout Indonesia organised peaceful commemorations on the 19 December 2018. In various cities security forces responded with mass arrests or forcefully dispersed the crowd. According to human rights activists, security force members ill-treated protesters as they conducted arrests in Jayapura and Ternate, Maluku Utara Province. In the Javanese city of Malang, 16 peaceful protesters were subjected to ill-treatments by plain cloth officers and members of nationalist mass organisations. A similar incident was reported from Denpasar, Bali, where the forceful dispersal by police officers and members of nationalist mass organisations resulted in the ill-treatment of four protesters.

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More Articles...

  1. Make West Papua Safe Campaign – Activists raise awareness on security force violence and foreign funding
  2. Military Raid in the Tsinga District of Mimika Regency – two villagers arbitrarily arrested and detained
  3. UN’s OHCHR spokesperson concerned about mass arrests and longstanding structural issues in West Papua
  4. Human Rights Watch press release on Nduga Case
  5. How long is killing still used to settle problems in Papua?
  6. Update on mass arrests during commemoration of 1st December – at least 5 protesters ill-treated during arrests in Jayapura
  7. Mass arrests during commemorations of International Human Rights Day in West Papua
  8. Violence escalates in the highland regency of Nduga – at least 24 people killed in armed conflict
  9. Documentary shows fathers of murdered children and their struggle for justice
  10. Brimob officers collectively torture 3 bystanders witnessing mass arrests in Jayapura
  11. Police officers obstruct Papuan journalist in Tomohon City, North Sulawesi
  12. Commemoration of “Papuan Independence Day” - Police responds with mass arrests and ill-treatment
  13. Failed crowd control operation in Merauke – Three residents ill-treated, 27 arrested
  14. Dispersal of peaceful assembly in Jayapura – Police arrests 107 KNPB supporters and ill-treats four activists
  15. Security force operation in Lanny Jaya Regency
  16. Case update: Law enforcement process and detention conditions of arrested Polish citizen
  17. Military member kills Papuan stundent in Waroki Village, Nabire Regency
  18. Torture and killing of Ishak Dewayekua - Disappointing verdict in military trial
  19. Military members allegedly kill Anekanus Komarigi in Nduga Regency
  20. Police ill-treat five participants after peaceful event on human rights at the Papuan student dormitory in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province
  21. Human Rights Update West Papua - 3rd Quarter 2018
  22. Eleven university students arrested for peacefully expressing their opionion in public
  23. Military operation in Puncak Jaya Regency allegedly causes death of at least five civilians
  24. TAPOL and ETAN Joint Statement - UN General Assembly 73: Correcting the Record On Human Rights Violations in West Papua and the 1969 UN Resolution Regarding ‘Act of Free Choice’
  25. Six air force members collectively torture Papuan man in Sentani
  26. Timika District Police fails to provide adequate medical treatment during detention
  27. 67 ULMWP supporters arrested during peaceful demonstration in Jayapura
  28. Joint security forces raid the KNPB office in Timika – two activists shot down
  29. Final Countdown - Greenpeace publishes new report on reform of the palm oil industry
  30. Kimam sub-district police again involved in case of extra-judicial killing

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