On 30 September 2020, TAPOL, in collaboration with human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, has published an extensive report on the 2019 West Papua Uprising (‘the Uprising’) on the anniversary of its last day in 2019. The trigger of the Uprising was the racist persecution of West Papuan students in the Indonesian cities of Malang on 15 August, in Surabaya on 16 and 17 August, and in Semarang on 18 August 2019. The most significant of these incidents was, however, the incidents in Surabaya where Indonesian soldiers shouted ‘monkey’ repeatedly at the students, a word which was later reclaimed by West Papuans who used it during protests. Indeed, the focus of the Uprising later in West Papua was largely concerned with condemning racism and prosecuting the racist perpetrators in Java, but also holding an independence referendum.
At least an extra 6,500 police and military personnel were deployed to crush the Uprising. The civilian death toll during its duration period reached 61 people, of whom 35 were indigenous West Papuans. Of those 35 people who died, 30 had sustained bullet wounds, suggesting that they were killed by the Indonesian security forces. Five other deaths were from stab wounds inflicted by civil militias.
The report, summarized in an executive summary, is a compilation of analyses and stories focusing on the human rights violations committed during the Uprising, including the racism which triggered it and the impunity which its perpetrators have enjoyed. The report shows that following the trigger events, a series of spontaneous protests broke out in West Papua. The authorities also used different strategies in an attempt to contain, then crackdown on the same protests.
Among other issues, this report provides further detail on issues of racism, impunity, extrajudicial killings, press freedom, internet shutdown, treason charges, excessive use of force against protestors, and the use of civilian militias. All such issues are the subject of inquiries about West Papua by the UN Human Rights Committee, with a “list of issues prior to submission of the second periodic report of Indonesia” issued to the Indonesian government on 2 September 2020. The Committee is an expert body appointed by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
TAPOL released a summary of events on 19 August 2020 to coincide with the first anniversary of the beginning of the Uprising. Since this date, they have made minor changes to the report because some political prisoners have been released in the interim and for other technical reasons. This report provides further verifiable information on incidents.
The written report is supplemented with a short video.
Download full PDF report at TAPOL’s website: