Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2021

Similar to previous reporting periods, human rights statistics between April and June 2021 continue to mirror the effects of the armed conflict and political tensions for Papuan civil society. The number of arbitrary arrests, political and non-political, continue to be high as the police firmly restrict the freedom of peaceful assembly and other civil-political rights. Nevertheless, Papuans voiced their discontent over the Papuan special autonomy and aspirations for self-determination in peaceful demonstrations. Papuan activist and human rights advocate, Victor Yeimo, was arrested in early May 2021 and charged with multiple criminal charges, among them treason. The police accused him of masterminding West Papua-wide protests against racism and civil unrest between August and September 2019. Three out of six reported victims of extra-judicial executions died in the context of security force raids in the Puncak Regency. All were indigenous Papuans. Observers estimate at least 31,833 indigenous Papuans internally displaced in the Puncak Regency due to the armed conflict between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) and Indonesian security forces. Only a few of them have access to medical treatment and other humanitarian aid.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2021

Of the eight reported cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances between January and March this year, seven were related to the central highlands' armed conflict. There was no investigation into any of the killings because the military claimed the victims were associated with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). The intensity of the ongoing conflict is likely to aggravate as Jakarta continues deploying additional non-organic troops to West Papua. At least 1,800 additional military personnel and 100 special police force members were transferred to West Papua in the first quarter of 2021 to fight against the TPN PB, maintain public order and secure government and military interests. The Indonesian Government continues to seek a violent solution to the conflict. In March 2021, the Indonesian Government announced its plan to add the TPN PB to the terrorist organisations' list. This measure would make peaceful talks between the conflict parties even more improbable. The deployment of non-organic security forces and ongoing armed clashes go to the detriment of the indigenous peoples in conflict areas. The armed violence in the Intan Jaya Regency resulted in further displacements of at least 3,600 indigenous Papuans.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 4th Quarter 2020

Statistical data on extra-judicial killings and torture do not show significant changes throughout the fourth quarter of 2020. Both figures remain high. The majority of extra-judicial killings in West Papua are related to security force raids in the central highlands. The armed conflict entails a new pattern of violations, namely enforced disappearances, which exclusively occur with military incursions.

Human rights defenders have estimated that the armed conflicts in the regencies of Mimika, Intan Jaya and Nduga have resulted in the internal displacement of at least 60,000 persons. The vast majority of them are indigenous Papuans. The local and central government continue to neglect the humanitarian crisis in Papua's central highlands. Hence most IDPs do not have access to food, healthcare, education and other humanitarian services. At the same time, the ongoing security force operations prevent them from returning home.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 3rd Quarter 2020

In the third quarter of 2020, several human rights indicators show a considerable deterioration of the situation, notably the significant increase in the number of extra-judicial killings (EJK) and the number of victims of torture and ill-treatment. The number of political arrests has risen sharply, mainly due to the increase in public demonstrations.

Six of the reported EJKs took place during security force operations in the regencies Mimika, Intan Jaya and Nduga, which have become the hotspots of armed conflict. Military and police representatives have repeatedly justified such killings by publicly claiming that the victims were members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) without providing any evidence. Those killings are then neither further investigated, nor are the cases transferred to the police or military internal investigation units.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2020

The most significant events in the second quarter of 2020 were the outcomes in multiple trials against Papuan activists who had been prosecuted for the participation or the organisation of protests against racism in August and September 2019. Notably, the trial against the 'Balikpapan 7' drew the attention of Papuan civil society and international human rights observers as the public prosecutor demanded sentences of 5 to 17 years for the defendants. Religious leaders and other civil society actors in West Papua feared further outbreaks of riots if the seven activists had been sentenced with such high penalties. In comparison to other trials in Jayapura, Jakarta, Manokwari and Sorong, the demanded sentences for the defendants were disproportionately high. The lawyers representing the protesters at court stated that many of the hearings did not meet the standards of a fair and impartial trial. Fabricated evidence, prioritisation of police reports over court testimonies and deliberate changes in the established agenda were only some of the shortcomings. Moreover, the lawyers claimed that the decision to conduct the trials via video conference turned out to affect the exercise of their mandate negatively. The public was excluded from trials.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2019

Since December 2018, more than 100 civilians – the majority of them indigenous Papuans – have allegedly died as a consequence of the ongoing armed conflict in the Nduga regency. The conflict has reportedly led to the displacement of thousands of indigenous Papuans. The military operation in Nduga is ongoing, and human rights defenders, journalists and international observers are still restricted from entering the regency. The ICP is concerned about the significant increase of extra-judicial killings in the past nine months. While the high number of killings during the 4th quarter of 2018 and the 1st quarter of 2019 is mainly related to the armed conflict in Nduga, the additional six cases of killings and one alleged suicide while in detention during the 2nd quarter are the outcome of unprofessional behaviour of security force members. Five of those cases of killings were the consequence of the use of firearms during crowd control operations in the regencies Asmath and Deiyai. The high number of 29 cases of torture and ill-treatment is related to police violence against protesters during political demonstrations or police negligence to protect peaceful Pro-Papuan protesters from violent acts by members of nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) in the Javanese city of Malang.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2020

The first quarter of 2020 was marked by the outbreaks of armed clashes in multiple regencies of West Papua and multiple trials in relation to the Papua-wide anti-racism riots throughout August and September 2019, which resulted in imprisonment sentences for protesters. Lawyers deplored that the trials failed to meet the principles of a fair trial. Many defendants were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment, although witness testimonies and evidence presented in court did not prove the involvement of the defendants in any criminal acts. Hence, many of the sentenced defendants have appealed against the verdicts. Moreover, human rights observers raised the concern that judges applied double standards. The verdicts for three non-Papuans who had been found guilty of hate speech against indigenous Papuans, and four migrants who collectively killed a Papuan during outbreaks of ethnic violence in Jayapura, were considered mild.

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Human Rights Update West Papua – 1st Quarter 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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West Papua Human Rights Update January 2020

The last quarter of 2019 was dominated by the aftermath of the Papua-wide anti-racism riots that took place throughout August and September 2019 and the exacerbation of the armed conflict in the central highlands. The trials in relation to the anti-racism riots and the subsequent political prosecutions during the previous quarter have been launched. Some lawyers attempted to raise criminal procedure violations in pre-trial hearings – none of the pre-trial hearings were successful. The statistics clearly reflect the continuing prosecution of political activists, as Government authorities keep on restricting civil society space for peaceful protest, freedom of assembly, media freedom and freedom of expression in West Papua. While the number of arrests have significantly decreased compared to the third quarter, the figure is still considerably high and the main reason is that the 1st December, which many indigenous Papuans regard as the ‘Papuan Independence Day’, was marked by a high number of political arrests and treason charges against indigenous Papuans participating in the commemoration.

 

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Human Rights Update West Papua – 4th Quarter 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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Human Rights Update West Papua - 3rd Quarter 2019

The 3rd quarter of 2019 was characterized by a significant and rapid escalation of the conflict in West Papua since mid-August with riots, horizontal violence and human rights violations taking place in several Papuan cities. The outbreaks of violence were triggered by acts of racial discrimination and assault against Papuan students in multiple Javanese cities. They constitute the worst escalations of violence in West Papua since the downfall of the military dictatorship under President Suharto. Long-growing tensions between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian migrants have for the first time manifested in outbreaks of horizontal violence against particular ethnic groups causing deaths among the non-indigenous and the indigenous population. The Indonesian police reportedly neglected attacks against indigenous residents while non-Papuans militant groups enjoy impunity.

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Human Rights Update West Papua - 3rd Quarter 2018

The third quarter of 2018 was characterized by a considerable increase in political arrests resulting from police action during the dispersal of various peaceful demonstrations. The majority of political demonstrations were organised in relation to the 73rd General Assembly Session of the United Nations, during which Vanuatu and other Pacific countries had raised the West Papua issue. Political activities within the Papuan civil society appear to have significantly risen in September 2018 in correspondence with international political events outside Indonesia.

 

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