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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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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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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Tensions and military presence due to conflict between mining companies in Nifasi increase

The customary council for the Papuan customary area of Meepago reported of increasing tensions in the area around Nifasi village of Nabire Regency, due to an ongoing conflict between two gold mining companies in the area. The operation area of both companies belong to the Wate tribe. Particularly villagers living in Nifasi village are heavily affected by the conflict, which has resulted in extensive military presence around the gold panning sites at the nearby Masairo River.  

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Military members attack two Papuan men with knifes in Uwibutu Village, Paniai Regency

Local human rights defenders from the Paniai Regency have reported, that two military members allegedly attacked Yus Degei and Piet Degei in Uwibutu village in Madi District, Paniai regency. The incident occurred at 09.00 am on the 1st May 2017 after the owner of a small shop in Uwibutu had accused the Papuan men of theft and subsequently reported them to members of the nearby 753 military base by phone.

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Yapen District Police officers allegedly execute Maikel Marani

Local human rights defenders in Yapen Island have reported that a special police force unit under command of Yapen District Police allegedly executed the head of the local armed independence group Maikel Marani (28 years) in the early morning hours of 27th March 2017 at Kontinuai Village, Angkaisera District, Yapen Islands Regency. According to eye witnesses, special force members in black uniforms and balaclavas approached the house of Maikel Marani's in-laws at 01:00 am, where Maikel had stayed over night. The witnesses stated that Maikel Marani was unarmed at the time of the attempted arrest. As Maikel Marani tried to escape, a police officer released shots at him, one of them hitting Maikel's leg. Despite no further attempts to avoid the arrest, the officers again fired several shots at Maikel Marani, causing his instant death on the spot. Subsequently, the police officers tortured two other villagers with the initials H.S. (30 years) and F.A. (28 years), and forced them at gunpoint to show where Maikel Marani had hidden his weapons.

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ULMWP lobbies parliament of Uganda to support West Papuan independence

Uganda's leading daily news paper 'The New Vision' published an article on 2 May 2017 about the lobby meeting between ULMWP executive director Jacob Rumbiak and the deputy speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Mr. Jacob Oulanyah. The meeting was part of a courtesy visit to the Uganda Parliament on 7 April 2017. During the meeting Jacob Rumbiak stated that the ULMWP asks Uganda to influence other African states to support the independence of West Papua at the United Nations.

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Adoption of local regulation on the restoration of Papuan female victims' rights

The Department for Internal Affairs (DEPDAGRI) through the National Women Commission (KOMNAS Perempuan) has shared information on the local regulation PERDASUS No. 1 / 2011 on the Restoration of the Rights of Papuan Female Victims of Violence and Human Rights Violations. Even though the law had already been passed under former Governor Syamsul Arief Rivai on 3 August 2011, civil society activists had not been informed about the adoption of the law until early April 2017. The regulation provides detailed descriptions and definitions of various forms of violence (Article 2) and human rights violations against women (Article 3:), with particular reference to discrimination, forms of slavery or human trafficking including prostitution, forced marriage and forced sterilization. Furthermore, it defines the rights of female victims, which includes their restoration through restitution, rehabilitation and compensation, as well as the victim's right to truth and justice.

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Pacific island countries deliver joint statement on West Papua at ACP council meeting in Brussels

The Pacific Island nations of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands delivered a joint statement on 3 May 2017 at the Council of Ministers of the 79-member Africa Caribbean Pacific Group of States (ACP), in which they voiced concerns over  present and past human rights violations – including crimes against humanity - in the region. The Pacific nations also called for an eventual resolution that includes support of the right of West Papuan political self-determination. The statement was read aloud by Johnny Koanapo, a high-ranking member of the Republic of Vanuatu parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister.

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Press Release: Indonesia Visit by the Special Rapporteur on Health

The Special Rapporteur on the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health Mr. Dainius Pūras, issued a press release on 4 April 2017 after his country visit to Indonesia between 22 March and 3 April 2017. The Special Rapporteur appreciated Indonesia's efforts in the field of health, which he considered as being “on the right track to develop an equitable and sustainable healthcare system based on universal health coverage”. At the same time Mr. Dainius Pūras warned the Indonesian government that ”ambitious goals can be reached only if challenges are addressed”. Among the major challenges the Special Rapporteur named the availability, access to and quality of health services for all Indonesian citizens as well as barriers in law and practice which impede the realization of sexual and reproductive health rights, resulting in various forms of violence and discrimination. The Special Rapporteur was particularly “concerned about the health status of ethnic Papuans, who are two times more likely to have HIV/AIDS than the rest of the population”.  A comprehensive report on the visit to Indonesia will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018.

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More Articles...

  1. UN Special Rapporteur visits Indonesia - concerned about situation in West Papua
  2. WAN-IFRA investigates media freedom in West Papua
  3. Human rights lawyers concerned about detention conditions of three Papuan defendants
  4. NGOs deliver statement about the situation of indigenous Papuans at Human Rights Council
  5. Indonesia deports two French journalists from West Papua
  6. Saving Raja Ampat waters with tourism
  7. Vanuatu takes lead in expressing Pacific Sates' concern regarding human rights situation in West Papua
  8. 'Swim for West Papua' - Free West Campaign launches global petition
  9. Urgent Appeal - Police officers torture Mr. Edison Hesegem to death in Jayawijaya General Hospital
  10. European Parliament adopts Resolution on Indonesia, noticing arrest of peaceful protesters in West Papua
  11. 1st December Commemoration in Jakarta - Papuans and Indonesians demonstrate for Right to Self Determination
  12. Joint Statement on the New York Agreement by the Ecumenical Forum of Papuan Church Leaders
  13. Police opens fire on crowd - one killed, many injured
  14. Torture as Theatre in Papua
  15. UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Initiates Early Warning Procedure Regarding Human Rights Situation in West Papua
  16. Listening to the Pacific beat on Papua
  17. Pacific states speak out on human rights violations in West Papua
  18. Opening Statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council
  19. ICP Compilation of Recommendations and Observations by International Mechanisms
  20. Brimob chase teenage boy, shooting him dead outside his house
  21. Human Rights defender Olga Hamadi dies at 34
  22. REPORT ON THE UNLAWFUL ARRESTS OF 1,269 WEST PAPUANS BETWEEN 10-15 JUNE 2016
  23. Joint press release on 6th European Union- Indonesia Human Rights Dialogue
  24. Oral Statement of the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
  25. REPORT ON THE UNLAWFUL ARRESTS OF 648 WEST PAPUANS BETWEEN 28 - 31 MAY 2016
  26. MSG as possible peace platform for conflict resolution between West Papua and Indonesia
  27. REBUILDING AFTER COMMUNAL VIOLENCE: LESSONS FROM TOLIKARA, PAPUA
  28. Unlawful Mass Arrests of 326 West Papuans between May 28 and May 31, 2016
  29. Aftermath of the IPWP meeting in the United Kingdom
  30. Press Release - The Poorness of Indonesia's Forest Management

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