Extensive public support for indigenous Papuans againts the Tambrauw Military Base

According to the lawyer representing indigenous Papuan land owners (hak ulayat) from the Abun Tribe Customary Foundation (Lamasa), Yohanis Mambrasar, the refusal of residents of Tambrauw Regency for the establishment of the Tambrauw District Military Base (KODIM) has received support from various parties. Mambrasar claimed that 38 civil society organizations and three human rights activists expressed support. The construction of the military base, which was inaugurated on 14 December 2020, has been opposed by the community.


Top Indonesian palm oil developments in 2020

In the last years, palm oil companies have been turning more and more to Papua for plantation expansion, logging and clearing millions of hectares of pristine rainforest. On 26.12.2020 as part of its year-in-review series, Mongabay published an extensive assessment of the main events related to the palm oil industry in Indonesia. The country's new palm oil frontier, in the forests of Papua, is tainted by allegations of falsified permits and violence against Indigenous communities. At the same time, new legislation exempts plantation operators from environmental requirements and allows for the whitewashing of illegal plantations in forests.


Cooperation between the Archdiocese of Merauke and palm oil company causes outrage

UCA News has reported that the Merauke Archdiocese in Indonesia's Papua province is set to receive billions of rupiah through a collaboration with an environmentally controversial palm oil company, sparking strong protests from local Catholics. Protesters said they felt marginalized by the presence of the palm oil company, PT Tunas Sawa Erma, and its deforestation, saying this cooperation showed that the archdiocese is insensitive to their struggles.

Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi signed an letter of intent on 5 January with the manager of the firm, a subsidiary of the Korindo Group, and a joint Indonesian and South Korean venture. The company handed over 800 million rupiah (US$56,600), part of a 2.4 billion rupiah commitment to be given in stages over three years. The company will also give the archdiocese 20 million rupiah a month for three years. Jimmy Yonesendu, the company's general manager, said the donation was part of their corporate social responsibility strategy. Korindo Group has been accused of destroying a huge swath of rainforest in Merauke district to pave the way for a palm oil plantation.


KNPB activist arrested and detained – LBH Papua condemn procedural violations

Police officers arrested the Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) local branch in Intan Jaya, Nataniel Tipagau (see photo), on 4 January 2021 in front of the Yapis University Campus in Jayapura. According to the Papuan Police Chief, Paulus Waterpauw, the police was already looking for Nataniel Tipagau since January 2020 for alleged violation of Article 1(1) of the Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on illegal use, possession or distribution of firearms (see police letter below). The Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) raised concerns over allegations of various procedural violations during his arrest and detention. LBH Papua will provide legal support for Tipagau but could not meet him during detention.

Nataniel Tipagau was arrested around 5.00 pm, as he was walking with relatives to an ATM. Plainclothes officers reportedly jumped out of a black civilian vehicle and dragged Nataniel Tipagau into the car. The officers did not show a warrant at the time of arrest. Shortly after the arrest, rumours about the alleged enforced disappearance of Nataniel Tipagau spread on social media because the police did not inform the relatives in writing about the arrest. Moreover, LBH Papua lawyers were prevented from meeting Nataniel Tipagau during his detention at the Papuan Regional Police (Polda Papua) Headquarters.



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.



Papua sawmill loses legality certification over allegations of forged permit

Since late 2019, a series of allegations of fake permits involving major certified timber operations has been raised, indicating that illegal logging operations had been officially certified and are legal under Indonesia’s timber verification scheme. These operations are linked to widespread deforestation and corruption in Indonesia. The revocation of Tulen Jayamas Timber Industries' (TJTI) legality certificate in August 2020 was the one of the latest development in this long-running faked permits fiasco surrounding sawmills and palm oil projects.


Attorney General establishes special team to settle 13 cases of gross human rights violations

The Attorney General’s office has formed a special team to accelerate the legal processing of 13 alleged gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Its establishment followed President Jokowi’s instruction to accelerate the settlement of past human rights violations during a meeting on 10 December 2020, the International Human Rights Day. The team consists of 18 Attorney General staffers who should identify legal shortcomings for each of the cases and overcome the long-lasting discord between the Attorney General’s office and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). Komnas HAM has carried out investigations into all 13 cases. However, the claims were never processed by the Attorney General’s office, arguing that the case files were incomplete.


Security force members torture indigenous Papuan on New Year’s Eve

The ICP has received credible information about the torture of 22-year-old Petrus Tebai in the village of Mauwa, Dogiyai regency, on New Year’s Eve. Petrus Tebai was inside his house as he heard people arguing in one of the neighbouring huts. Around midnight, he went out to look where the sound was coming from, as a group of security force members intercepted Petrus Tebai and allegedly beat him up until he lost consciousness. The informants stated that Mr Tebai also sustained a bullet injury as one of the officers released a shot at him.