Papuan Council of Churches: the heart of the Papuan problem is racism and injustice

On 5 July 2020, the Papuan Council Of Churches (WPCC) released the following statement titled:  "Indonesian Special Autonomy Development for the Welfare of the Papuan People is Dead". The press release reads as follows:

Observing Jakarta's recent activities, unilaterally designing Special Autonomy Papua Volume II in order to avoid public pressure related to the racism in the Surabaya Student Dormitory and the consequent reverberations in Papua which have begun to cause movements at the grassroots, we need to remember that the direction and framework of the development of the Indonesian State in Papua have been imbued with ethnic superiority from the beginning. Since 1963, the existence of the Indonesian State has been stimulated by racial discrimination and therefore the fall of the authoritarian regime of Suharto as president of the Republic of Indonesia in 1998 provided a good opportunity and a breath of fresh air for the awakening of all Papuans, the demanding of political rights to independence and to leave the Republic of Indonesia.

The demands of all the people of Papua to independence from the Indonesian State, were met with military and police violence by the Indonesian government which caused casualties on the part of the people of Papua. In order to stop the State violence through the Indonesian military and police force, the path to a peaceful and dignified settlement was agreed by both parties: the Indonesian government and the people of Papua – This was The Special Autonomy Act No. 21 of 2001. The 2001 Special Autonomy Act contained articles which provided guarantees and hopes for the people of Papua. The promises and agreements contained in the mandate of the laws of the State of Indonesia are as follows: The Protection, recognition of the rights of Indigenous Papuans, empowerment and affirmative action, have failed, and this has given birth to deep disappointment and anxiety among Indigenous Papuans. During Special Autonomy many Indigenous Papuans were killed at the hands of the security apparatus (Army and Police) and the perpetrators have never been prosecuted to get justice for the victims' families. Local political parties have never been formed. It is forbidden to fly The Morning Star flag. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) failed to be implemented. RACISM and INEQUALITY has grown and become entrenched during the era of Special Autonomy. It is evident that the events of RACISM that occurred between 15-17 August 2019 in Semarang, Malang and Yogyakarta were carried out by radical organizations including Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Youth Pancasila (PP), members of the army and the Forum of Indonesian Veterans Children (FKPP). There are four roots of the Papua Issue in Special Autonomy which were formulated by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and were given to the State of Indonesia to be resolved. (1) The history and political status of the integration of Papua into Indonesia; (2) State violence and gross violations of human rights which have taken place since 1965 and that have yet to be resolved; (3) Discrimination and marginalization of indigenous Papuans in their own land; (4) Development failures including education, health, and the economy of the people of Papua. The Papuan Church Council has concluded that these four root problems come from RACISM AND INJUSTICE. The heart of the Papua problem is RACISM and INJUSTICE. This was proven by GAM in Aceh becoming a dialogue partner with the Indonesian State with the dialogue mediated by a third party in a neutral venue in Helsinki in Finland on August 15, 2005. A local Aceh political party was established and the GAM Flag was raised. Based on this reality, the Papua Church Council requests that the Republic of Indonesia immediately solve the four root problems, and therefore the Papuan Council of Churches would like to reiterate the demands in our Pastoral Letters dated 26 August 2019 and 13 September 2019, which are as follows:

1. We ask for justice from the government of the Republic of Indonesia to resolve the Papua problem in the same way that Indonesia has shown for GAM in Aceh. Vice President Yusuf Kalla played an active role in supporting dialogue with GAM, which was mediated internationally. Therefore, we demand that the Indonesian government dialogue with ULMWP mediated by neutral third parties. (Contents of Letter dated August 26, 2019)

2. We urge the Indonesian government to immediately open itself to negotiations with ULMWP as it did with GAM in ACEH making them a negotiating Partner with mediation provided by a third party; This is the only and best solution to bring about a permanent peace in the Land of Papua and is in accordance with the Pastoral Appeal which on August 26, 2019, was read and submitted directly to the Commander of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and the Indonesian Police at the Swiss-Bell Hotel Jayapura. (Contents of Letter dated 13 September 2019).

Jayapura, Sunday, 5 July 2020
1. Pendeta Andrikus Mofu, M.Th.
2. Pendeta Dorman Wandikbo, S.Th.
3. Pendeta Dr. Benny Giay, Ph.D.
4. Gembala Dr. Socratez S.Yoman,MA.

Download PDF Press Release HERE

Merdeka Secretariat's Solidarity Month for West Papua

On July 1, the Merdeka Secretariat launched the solidarity month for West Papua which aims to intensify the online and offline information drive on the issues in West Papua. At the same time, according to the Merdeka Secretariat, the solidarity month will be used to explain the political as well as economic agenda behind the consistent criminalisation and repression of the Papuan people and their supporters. There are different educational activities lined up for the month, such as a webinar series and short video clips on current events in West Papua.


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 a few 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.

The enforcement of measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in human rights violations against West Papuans. Police officers have conducted arrests during sensitive political activities for allegedly violating social distancing policies. Furthermore, there are two reported cases between April and June 2020, where the unprofessional behaviour of police officers during the enforcement of those policies resulted in injuries and one fatality among civilians.
The number of cases of physical assault, obstruction and intimidation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in West Papua has significantly increased, with twelve reported cases. The majority are hacker attacks against the HRDs. Frequent internet advocacy events against racism in West Papua and in support of the 'Balikpapan 7' throughout June 2020 reached an international audience. They likely drew the discontent of loyal government supporters and nationalist groups. The perpetrators of the attacks could not be exposed. There continue to be more than 40.000 internally displaced Papuans as a result of various military operations in the Papuan highlands. The IDPs continue to be in need of aid, protection and the possibility to return to their homes safely.

Download full report

Ninth update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua

This article provides an overview of the trials related to Papua-wide anti-racism protests between late August and late September 2019 as well as the subsequent wave of criminalisation against human rights defenders and political activists. The International Coalition for Papua summarised earlier stages of the legal proceedings and detentions in previous articles (first update, second update, third update, fourth update, fifth update, sixth update, seventh update, eight update. The following text covers the developments throughout June 2020 concerning the riots.

The seven Papuan activists tried in Kalimantan were sentenced to ten and eleven months imprisonment. International human rights observers, as well as Papuan civil society members, raised serious concerns regarding the trial after the public prosecutor had sought sentences of up to 17 years imprisonment for the defendants. Meanwhile, the majority of trials concerning the anti-racism protests have been closed and the defendants were released. Several court cases against protesters who were during unrests in the towns of Oksibil, Wamena, Sorong and Waena continue.


NTB Regional Police allegedly forced a student to make false video statement about West Papua

A video published on YouTube has revealed a further case of media manipulation in the context of West Papua. The video was published on 25 June 2020 and shows the statement of a boy introducing himself as Bertus from Wamena, who studies in the city of Mataram, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat province. In the video message, Bertus encourages all Papuans to love the Unitary State of Indonesia (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, NKRI). The video was shared by the Public Relations Department of the Nusa Tenggara Barat Regional Police (Polda NTB) on Instagram to promote the Indonesian unitary state doctrine and counter media information in support of political self-determination for West Papua.


Press Release - #PapuanLivesMatter: West Papua Network and United Evangelical Mission urge the Indonesian government to end racism against indigenous Papuans

(Wuppertal, 23rd of June 2020). In the wake of the anti-racism demonstrations in the USA after the death of George Floyd caused by police violence and the current worldwide attention to this issue, the West Papua Network (WPN) and the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) express their concern about the continuing racism against indigenous Papuans and draw attention to the importance of the #PapuanLivesMatter campaign. The West Papua Network and the UEM call on the Indonesian government to take effective measures against racism in West Papua and to promote and protect the human rights of Papuans.



#MakeWestPapuaSafe aims to stop foreign government support for Indonesian police

The Make West Papua Safe (MWPS) Campaign was launched in December 2018 with the aim to stop, or at least review, foreign government support to the Indonesian police and military, which the activists supporting the campaign believe to be creating more effective human rights abusers. Successive reports by the International Coalition for Papua, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Tapol, and their Papuan partners, all establish that the Indonesian security forces have become an obstacle to peace with justice in West Papua. Instead of protecting West Papuans – who ostensibly are Indonesian citizens with the same constitutional rights to freedom of speech as people in Java – the Indonesian police and military kill, jail, torture and beat ordinary Papuans, often for no other reason than being black and identifying as Papuan (Amnesty International Indonesia 2018).


#MakeWestPapuaSafe Campaign organizes webinar about Balikpapan 7 with Sarah Thompson

On 15 June 2020, the case of the seven anti-racism activists on trial for treason was discussed in a webinar organised by the #makewestpapuasafe. The panellists were Benny Giay (Moderator KINGMI Papua), Gustaf Kawer (lawyer for the Balikpapan 7 and director of PAHAM Papua), Usman Hamid (director and founder of Amnesty International Indonesia), Jacob Rumbiak (spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua), Sarah Thompson (Black Lives Matter organiser and West Papua solidarity activist), and Jason MacLeod (civil resistance lecturer).


Sign ETAN's Petition: Free West Papua Political Prisoners

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) is calling for the immediate release of political prisoners in Indonesia. Sign the petition HERE.

Recently, Indonesian prosecutors demanded sentences of five to 17 years for seven high-profile West Papuan political prisoners detained in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan (Borneo). These activists were arrested during a wave of protest triggered by recorded incidents of racist police violence last year. Tens of thousands joined an uprising against racism and for self-determination for West Papua.


Pusaka Press Release: Urging the State and Corporations to Protect and Respect Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Papua

The Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation has documented the situation in Papua from April 2020 to the present, June 2020, and has uncovered cases of violence, arrests, destruction of property, internal displacement, intimidation and death threats experienced by indigenous peoples and Environmental Human Rights Defenders, namely: the Moskona indigenous people in the Regency of Teluk Bintuni (April 2020), Aifat indigenous people in Maybrat Regency (April May 2020), Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Kampung Ikana, Kais Darat, South Sorong Regency (June 2020), and in Kali Kao, Jair District, Boven Digoel Regency (June 2020), Papua Province. Some cases involve recurring violence against Environmental Human Rights Defenders.


More Articles...

  1. Update on trial against 23 defendants in Fakfak arrested during 1st December Commemorations and accused of treason and criminal conspiracy
  2. TAPOL regrets Court sentencing of ‘Balikpapan Seven’ political prisoners
  3. Update on trial against ‘Balikpapan 7’ – Judges sentence Papuan activists to ten and eleven months imprisonment
  4. Corona prevention policies increase violence – Security force members leave three indigenous Papuans injured in Paniai
  5. Police officers arrest four students during peaceful assembly in support of Balikpapan 7
  6. Papuan Parliament, MRP and religious leaders criticise injustice and demand release of ‘Balikpapan 7’
  7. Series of attacks against human rights defenders advocating for human rights in West Papua
  8. Theo Hesegem's views on the #BlackLivesMatter #PapuanLivesMatter Campaign
  9. Statement by Papua's religious leaders on the trial against 7 Papuan defendants at the Balikpapan District Court
  10. Yones Douw talks about the #BlackLivesMatter Campaign in West Papua
  11. Update: Trial on internet blockage in West Papua – Administrative Court rules President and Minister acted unlawfully
  12. Eighth update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  13. Attorney General rejects the Paniai Case files again for further processing
  14. Papua Police Chief presses charges against KNPB member in Mimika – suspect injured during arrest
  15. Police officers disperse residents with water cannon in Jayapura - one person dead
  16. CC TV records police officers torturing suspect in Mimika Regency
  17. Allegations of enforced disappearance in Intan Jaya - Two indigenous Papuans reported missing
  18. Papuan student arrested for Facebook post – Police press charges
  19. Freeport operating with reduced workforce due to increase of COVID-19 cases
  20. Korindo palm oil plantation calls police to settle land dispute – One indigenous Papuan dies as a result of torture
  21. Update, The Jakarta Six: Cancellation of release
  22. Police investigator in Sorong Selatan prevents lawyers from meeting with detainees
  23. Update: Number of Covid-19 cases in Papua rise to 301
  24. Residents reject construction of a military base in Tambrauw
  25. Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2020
  26. Govt fails to respect freedom of expression in West Papua – Police arrest students and summon church leader
  27. Human Rights Watch Indonesia: New Arrests for Peaceful Political Expression
  28. New IPAC Report available: COVID-19 and Conflict in West Papua
  29. Trade Minister revokes timber licensing for wood export – Papuan Forest under threat
  30. TAPOL denounces sentences handed to Jakarta Six


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