Press Release by UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner - Indonesia: Stop judicial harassment of human rights defenders – UN expert

GENEVA (26 November 2021) –  Indonesia must immediately stop using criminal laws to harass four human rights defenders who have spoken out against alleged corruption, Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said today.

“I am extremely concerned at the way defamation laws are being used in Indonesia to undermine the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” said Lawlor. “Civil society organisations are being targeted for performing what should be seen as a valuable role in society: ensuring that government and company projects are carried out with good governance in a transparent way, free from corruption, collusion and nepotism.


WPCC demands to stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders

The West Papua Council of Churches (WPCC) has released on 21 November 2021 a moral call regarding the conflict between the TPN PB and the TNI/Police, the unilateral approval of Special Autonomy, the increasing Islamisation of Papua, and the criminalisation of leaders and human rights activists, among others. Currently, there are still conflicts ongoing between the TPN PB and the Indonesian Army and Police in Intan Jaya Regency, Star Mountains Regency, Nduga Regency, Maybrat Regency, Yahukimo Regency and Puncak Papua Regency. The combined army and police security forces are still conducting sweeping exercises in civilian settlements with the argument that they are looking for TPNPB members. As a result, many Papuans have taken and continue to take refuge in the forest or in neighbouring districts.



Police increases surveillance on West Papua National Committee

The police increase surveillance operations against members and supporters of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a civil resistance organisation promoting the right to self-determination through peaceful means. According to KNPB spokesperson, Ones Suhuniap, police officers repeatedly visited the KNPB headquarters in Jayapura since 9 November 2021 to meet with KNPB chairman Agus Kossay (see photo, source: KNPB). The police officers questioned the activist about plans to hold a demonstration in Jayapura during a visit by President Joko Widodo to close the National Paralympic Games in Jayapura on 13 November 2021. KNPB members understood the visits as act of intimidation.


Attacks against journalists in West Papua on the rise – Media activists establish Press Legal Aid Association in Jayapura

Journalists and press organisations in Jayapura (see photo, source: Jubi) have established the Press Legal Aid Association (PBH Pers) in response to the raising number of cases involving intimidation, obstruction and physical attacks as well as cyber-attacks against journalists in West Papua. The Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI Indonesia) documented a total number of 114 cases of violence against journalists in West Papua during the past 20 years. 90 of these cases reportedly occurred between May 2020 and May 2021, alone. The violations included acts of verbal intimidation, destruction of work equipment and coverage, as well as physical violence.



Human rights observers concerned about constitutional court verdict on internet shut down in West Papua

Seven out of nine judges at the Indonesian constitutional court ruled on 27 October, that the Government acted lawful by imposing an internet shutdown during the ‘West Papua Uprising’. The Uprising was triggered by the racist persecution of Papuan students in Java and later swept across 23 towns in West Papua and 17 cities in Indonesia between 19 August and 30 September 2019. Human rights observers are concerned that the ruling has set a precedent which will enable the Government to stifle the media freedom and may even threaten the democracy in Indonesia.



Another indigenous Papuan allegedly killed during armed clash in Intan Jaya

Human rights defenders in Intan Jaya have documented the alleged killing of Bernadus Bagau (see photo: independent human rights defenders). According to information received, Bernadus Bagau disappeared during a firefight between Indonesian security forces and members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) in Intan Jaya’s largest town Sugapa on 29 October 2021. Relatives had repeatedly searched for the body or other hints pointing to his whereabouts. The body was eventually discovered on 16 November 2021 in a garden in Sugapa.


Police raid student dormitory in Manokwari and arrest ten residents

Members of the Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat) conducted a raid at the Mimika student dormitory in Manokwari on 22 November 2021. According to the residents, the police searched the dormitory without showing a search warrant. The officers seized traditional weapons, gardening tools and clothes with morning star symbols. Residents witnessed how the police officers devastated the rooms and broke a door during the raid. 

Ten dormitory residents were reportedly arrested and temporarily detained at the police headquarters, some of whome were participating in a virtual meeting in relation to their graduation at the Papuan University (Unipa) in Manokwari (see table below, source: local HRDs). The officers questioned the students about the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a civil resistance movement promoting the right to self-determination through non-violent means.


Update on armed violence in Kiwirok – Komnas HAM delegates investigation team

The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has delegated a team of experts to investigate the killing of a health worker and the alleged bombing of villages in the Kiwirik District, Pegunugan Bintang Regency. The team arrived in the Pegunungan Bintang Regency on 8 November 2021. As of 11 November, the Komnas HAM delegates were not permitted to leave the main town of Oksibil, as the security situation in Kiwirok remains tense. Two attempts to reach the district of Kiwirok have failed as security forces could not guarantee for the safety of the Komnas HAM team.


Police officers arrest and torture eight school students in Serambakon District, Pegunungan Bintang

A group of Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members reportedly tortured a group of eight minors (see table below, source: independent HRD) in the Serambakon district of Pegunungan Bintang regency on 12 November 2021. The students were on the way home from their school in the Seramkatop Village as they encountered a group of Brimob officers in the forest around 11:00 am. According to information received, the officers arrested the eight students and repeatedly punched them during the subsequent interrogation. Thereupon, the police members forced the eight students to come with them through the forest. Around 2:30 pm the village chief of Seramkatop Village, Mr Yance Asemki, saw the Brimob officers and the students walking through the forest towards the Seramkatop Village.


Police and military officials open for non-violent solutions to armed conflict in West Papua

Multiple police and military officials have recently declared their openness for negotiations with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). On 8 November 2021, the Indonesian parliament officially confirmed the Army Chief of Staff, Andika Perkasa, as the new chief commander of the Indonesian armed forces. Initially, Andika Prakarsa was recommended for the position by President Joko Widodo himself. Prakarsa announced that he intends to change the military’s conflict approach in the Indonesian provinces Papua and Papua Barat to become more humanistic. However, he explained that the new strategy will not be implemented before January 2022.


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