Joint Statement to the UN Human Rights Council regarding ongoing Violence in Papua and the Need for Dialogue

This is a joint statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs / World Council of Churches ( CCIA/WCC), Dominicans for Justice and Peace (Order of Preachers), Franciscans International (FI), the International Coalition for Papua (ICP), Survival International (SI), United Evangelical Mission (UEM), Vivat International (VI), and the West Papua Netzwerk (WPN). 

A wave of persecution against political activists under the cover of anti-terrorism measures since summer last year has resulted in arbitrary arrests and fabrication of charges with the aim to silence political activists and human rights defenders in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia. 

On January 21st, 20 inmates of the notorious Abepura prison, in which many of Papuan currently 33 political prisoners are located, were tortured and ill-treated. The prisoners were beaten with electro wires. We welcome the removal of the prison head following interventions from rights groups. However, to end the ongoing climate of impunity in Papua, criminal proceedings need to be started against these and all other perpetrators of torture, ill-treatment, intimidation and other human rights violations. 

In another case on February 15th, 7 Papuans were stopped and arrested in Depapre, Papua and later brought to the Jayapura Police station. The victims were tortured while being interrogated about contacts to political and human rights activists who already had to go into hiding for several months. While 5 of the victims were released on the following day, Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiab were falsely charged with illegal possession of sharp weapons under the emergency regulation 12/1951 as reported by the Asian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International. 

On March 2nd, Reverend Yunus Gobai, former leader of KINGMI Maranatha Nabire Church was beaten and arrested by police in Paniai district. The police later demanded IDR 1,000,000 for his release though there were no criminal charges laid against him, as the Asian Human Rights Commission reported. 

We deplore the ongoing escalation of violence in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia. Over the last year, there have been repeated cases of violence between Indonesian security forces, militant groups and civilians which caused several deaths on each side. We therefore urge the Government of Indonesian to join a participatory and comprehensive peace building process for Papua to end the spiral of violence in that conflict region. 

We welcome that Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia, has repeatedly voiced his support for a dialogue with Papua. Therefore, we recommend the Human Rights Council to urge the Government of Indonesia to: 

  1. Actively engage into the peaceful dialogue under neutral mediation as demanded to Jakarta by Papuan peace activists and non-indigenous residents in the Papuan provinces as a way to find a sustainable solution for all people living in Papua. 
  2. Open access to Papua, not only for tourists but also for foreign journalists as recommended in Indonesia‚Äôs last UPR and other independent observers to ensure independent reporting about the conflict, while local journalists face intimidations or are being killed. 
  3. Release all political prisoners in Papua, as a condition for a genuine and participatory dialogue involving all stakeholders.

(photo:By United States Mission Geneva (Flickr: Human Rights Council Discusses North Korea) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)