Human Rights Update West Papua – 1st Quarter of 2017

In the first quarter of 2017, security forces killed four indigenous Papuans while the perpetrators remain untouched by law. The killings occurred in the regencies Kepulauan Yapen, Jayawijaya and Dogiyai. These Papuan regencies continue to be classified as 'red zones', where security force members tend to label indigenous Papuans as supporters of separatist Assaults movements. Hence, security force operations are conducted with a high level of violence. The majority of violations were committed by police officers during arrest or detention, where victims are vulnerable to acts of torture. The period between January and March 2017 revealed a case pattern, comprising violations such as extra-judicial killings, torture, violations of indigenous peoples rights, limitations regarding media freedom and violations of the right to fair trial.

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UN High Commissioner blames Indonesia for non-cooperation with UN mechanisms

In his opening statement to the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussain, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized many countries' lack of true commitment in perceiving and using UN human rights mechanisms as valuable tools in the achievement of real human rights improvements. In this regard, he emphasized the limitation of access, including non-cooperation and selective cooperation with human rights mechanisms and his office.

 

 

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320 political arrests throughout May 2017

While the months January to April 2017 were comparably quiet in terms of political arrests, activists and human rights defenders have reported 320 political arrests throughout May 2017. Most arrests occured during peaceful assemblies like demonstrations or prayer sessions in various cities of West Papua. A smaller number of political arrests was related to the distribution of leaflets. Some arrests were allegedly accompanied by acts of violence against protesters, as it was reported from the 1st May commemoration in Sentani and a prayer session in Timika, which was organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) on the 30 May 2017. Police officers of the Jayapura district police also tortured local journalist Yance Wenda after covering the 1st May demonstration in Sentani.

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Dutch human rights ambassador visits Jayapura

An official Dutch delegation headed by the human rights ambassador Mr. Kees Van Baar visited Jayapura on 4 May 2017. During his short term visit, the Ambassador met with the Governor of the Papua Province and members of the Papuan provincial parliament. The delegation also paid a short visit to the Community School of Justice in the village Nimbokrang, where he talked with community members and school participants.

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Epidemic outbreak in Lanny Jaya Regency causes death of 37 villagers

Multiple local media outlets have reported the deaths of 37 villagers between 1 January 2017 and 25 April 2017 in the Awena District of Lanny Jaya Regency, Papua Province. The alleged reason for the deaths was an epidemic diarrhea outbreak in the villages Tinggira, Nambume, Eyumi, Uragabur, Yugimia and Indawa. At least four villagers had to be hospitalized in Tiom General Hospital, where they received medical treatment.

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Human rights in Indonesia under review at the UPR - Eight countries address human rights situation in West Papua

On 3rd May 2017, the human rights situation in Indonesia was reviewed for the 3rd time as part of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. This review was significantly different from previous reviews: Past Indonesian UPR delegations of 2008 and 2012 had tried to pull focus from the human rights situation in West Papua by addressing human rights issues of national relevance, such as the freedom of belief or migrant workers' rights. For the 2017 review, the Indonesian delegation had chosen a different strategy, by providing information on various state efforts to address the human rights situation in West Papua. At the same time, one could observe the general trend that state parties prioritized recommendations referring to national issues, such as the protection from discrimination of women, LGBTI persons (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Inter-sex), religious minorities and people living with disabilities, as well as the abolishment of the death penalty during this third review.

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Police officer allegedly beats human rights defender

A police officer from the Jayapura sub-district police has allegedly beaten Nareky Kogoya on 18 May 2017 during a police sweeping in the sub-urban area of Waena, which was carried out to identify possible suspects in a murder case. According to Nareky, the officers had questioned him, which upon he told them about his profession as staff at the Papuan representative office of the National Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM).

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Series of assaults against local journalists in Papua

Two days before Indonesia hosted the annual event for the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2017 at the Jakarta Convention Center, human rights defenders reported a further physical assault against a journalist, working for the local news website 'Tabloid Jubi'. Police officers arbitrarily arrested Yance Wenda on 1 May 2017 around 9.00 am, as he was covering a peaceful demonstration by the pro-independence organization KNPB (West Papua National Committee) in Sentani, Jayapura Regency. He was subsequently detained for four hours at the Jayapura district police station, where officers allegedly tortured him. According to Yance Wenda, several police officers beat him on face, back, legs and arms using bare hands a rattan sticks (see image below). One officer kicked Yance Wenda in the face, causing a deep cut in the inside of his lower lip.

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Military members open fire at protesters in Jayapura

A violent clash between a large number of protesters and military members occurred in Jayapura on 25 May 2017 after members of the Korem 172/PWY military base had allegedly burned several bibles. The protesters had gathered in front of the military base, where they erected road blocks on the main road, connecting Jayapura with the suburban area Waena. The Mayor of Jayapura City and police officers had tried to calm down the crowd, asking the protesters to go home and leave the prosecution of perpetrators to the police. As all attempts of mediation remained unsuccesful, military members forcefully dispersed the protest because angry demonstrators had allegedly thrown stones at security force members and injured two police officers during the mediation attempt.

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Protests and side event on press freedom in West Papua as Indonesia hosts 'World Press Freedom Day'

The Indonesian government together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Indonesian Press Council (PWI) hosted the 24th annual celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) at the Jakarta Convention Center JCC in Senayan from 1 to 4 May 2017. The WPFD is held to make an annual evaluation of global press freedom; to stand up for the independence of the press; and to pay tribute to those who have lost their life carrying their journalistic duties. The celebration with the slogan “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies” was attended by approximately 1.500 participants from 100 countries. In the run-up to the event, civil society organisations and journalists had protested against the WPFD in Indonesia, considering the restrictions on Press freedom in the country's easternmost provinces Papua and Papua Barat. The irony of Indonesia hosting the WPFD 2017 has inter alia been noted by the international newspaper Guardian.

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