Human Rights Update West Papua – April 2019, covering January – March 2019

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to either armed conflict or natural disasters continued to increase during the first quarter of 2019. The ongoing armed conflict in the Nduga regency has reportedly led to the displacement of more than 36.000 people between December 2018 and March 2019. President Joko Widodo has ordered strong military measures against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) in order to continue with the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects in the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat, making a withdrawal of security forces from the Nduga Regency highly unlikely. In addition, a flash flood and landslides in the Jayapura area on 16 March 2019 caused the displacement of further estimated 5.000 people.

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We are concerned about the significantly large number extra-judicial killings in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to updated data. Ten out of eleven cases occurred in the Nduga Regency mostly throughout December 2018, but have been documented and published later during the first quarter of 2019. These figures do not include people who have been reported missing since the beginning of the security force operations or are believed to have become victims of enforced disappearance.

The updated statistics on human rights violations do not indicate an improvement of the human rights situation in West Papua. Political arrests corelate with commemorations and spontaneous increase of political civil society activity. The prosecution of three KNPB members with treason charges and the ongoing trial against a Polish citizen and a Papuan student – all five charged with the articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Penal Code KUHP on treason – illustrate the persistent strategy by law enforcement institutions to criminalize peaceful political activity challenging Indonesia’s unitary state ideology. Human rights defenders continue to be intimidated through the police and military and face discreditation through social media and dubious internet websites.

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