Isolation of Papua highlighted during ICP Consultation

On September 25, 2013 a three days lasting event including an international consultation on Papua concluded in Geneva. The consultation titled Isolating Papua highlighted the increasing practice of limiting access to the Papuan provinces of Indonesia. It emphasised that a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua was the only possible way to ensure peace and human rights in the Land of Papua. The consultation was attended by more than 50 participants from Papua, Jakarta and other countries. The discussion was organised by the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and hosted by the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Neither UN Observers nor foreign journalists are currently allowed to enter Papua. Aid and human rights organisations are being denied to conduct official visits to the region with the highest number of cases of violence by security forces, violations of freedom of expression and other fundamental rights. The Papuan provinces have the highest poverty, HIV infection and child mortality rates in Indonesia.

During the consultation, church leaders, human rights defenders, peace activists and refugee representatives discussed the problem of ongoing threats and intimidation against journalists in Papua, ongoing challenges for accountability of perpetrators of human rights violations in Papua and the insufficient response from Jakarta to address the situation. Socratez Yoman, head of the communion of Baptist Churches in Papua expressed his dissappointment about the ongoing violence against civilians in Papua and the lack of an adequate response from Jakarta. The participants called for more support and protection for civil society in Papua including capacity building. The lack of access for UN Special Procedures to the region also calls for an increased need for Papuan human rights defenders to engage with UN mechnisms in other ways. While early this month, Papua governor Lukas Enembe declared Papua now to be open for journalists and NGOs, he has no authority over Jakarta's immigration policies and critics do not see his allegations as reliable. While the ICP welcomes Enembe's statement, an actual change in immigration policies remains to be seen.

During a side-event at the United Nations on September 25, 2013 the Asian Human Rights Commission announced the upcoming launch of a report covering mass violence in Papua in the late 1970s. The report looks at a possible violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in Papua under Suhartoe. The unacounted history of violence continues to be a root cause for the conflict.