West Papua Council of Churches voices concern over the escalating situation in Papua

The West Papua Council of Churches (WPCC) recently reached out to President Jokowi, the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces and expressed condolences to the victims of violence on both sides of the ongoing armed conflict. The WPCC sees the causes of the problems in Papua in the 'colonial gaze' with which Papua is often being looked at by Indonesian officials; the systematic destruction of a Papuan identity with history including the burning of ethnohistoric and political writings on Papua in the past and the labelling of the OPM as a terrorist organisation in a context of impunity for gross human rights violations committed against the Papuan people. The criminalisation of the OPM as terrorists and the military approach, the WPCC fears, will cause thousands of more killings of Papuans, has caused IDPs and destroyed critical political thought in Papua. WPCC calls on President Jokowi to fulfil his promise to meet with the ULMWP. While supporting the rights of Palestinians and Rohingyas, the Indonesian government labels the OPM a terrorist group while the OPM has not targeted churches, malls or train stations. The WPCC points out that there is no evidence the OPM engages in such attacks and warns of the risk that such attacks may in the future even be caused by Indonesian security forces in order to then falsely blame the OPM and prevent international human rights monitoring.

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Update on prosecution of Victor Yeimo – TAPOL reports case to UN Special Procedures

The London-based human rights organisation TAPOL has reported the arrest of Victor Yeimo, the international spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. Yeimo was arrested on 9 May 2021 and is currently detained at the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Jayapura, Papua Province. The police believe Victor Yeimo played a significant role in organising and leading protests against the racial discrimination of ethnic Papuans and for self-determination in 23 towns across West Papua and 17 cities in Indonesia between 19 August and 30 September 2019.

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Joint security forces arrest three IDPs in Puncak, among them one minor

According to the Papuan media outlet Suara Papua, joint security forces arrested three indigenous Papuans on 16 May 2021. The arrest reportedly occurred in the Tanah Merah Village, where 16-year-old Nelius Magai, Jon Waker, 30, and Ones Magai, 30, had fled after being displaced from their homes in the Tegelobak Village. They have been detained at the Gome Military Post in the Puncak Regency, where a widespread security force operation has been ongoing since late April 2021 (see photo).

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Westpapua-Netzwerk fears further violence in WP due to the "terrorist" categorisation

The Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN), a forum of organisations and individuals in Germany advocating for human rights in West Papua, has issued an open statement expressing its concern over the classification of the TPNPB-OPM as "terrorists" as a further step in the spiral of escalation in West Papua. On 29 April 2021, the Indonesian government announced that it is categorising the armed fighters for the independence and freedom of West Papua as a terrorist organisation. In this context, the WPN calls for the protection of human rights defenders, the prosecution of racist violence, the visit of the UN OHCHR, among other calls. The statement reads as follows:

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Update on situation of IDPs in Puncak Regency – Local government says thousands displaced due armed clashes

Papuan media outlet Suara Papua has published new data on internally displaced persons in the Puncak Regency, where Indonesian security forces have launched a widespread operation against the West Papua National Liberation Army since 27 April 2021. According to the Social Affairs Department in Puncak, 653 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently seeking shelter at the local government complex in Puncak’s largest town of Kimak (see photo, source: Suara Papua). Thousands of indigenous villagers from the Mabugi and Ilaga Utara districts are believed to hide in churches and the forests.

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KNPB Spokesperson Victor Yeimo arrested and charged with treason

On 9 May 2021, members of the Nemangkawi task force arrested Victor Yeimo (see photo, source: Jubi) in Jayapura. He is the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson, a civil resistance movement organisation promoting the right to self-determination. Yeimo also plays a significant role in forming a petition against the prolongation of Papua’s special autonomy status. According to various media sources, the police had already searched Victor Yeimo since the Uprising, a series of protests against the racial discrimination of ethnic Papuans and for self-determination in 23 towns across West Papua and 17 cities in Indonesia between 19 August and 30 September 2019. The police believe that he played a major role in organising and leading the protests.

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Victim of torture dies in Tambrauw Regency – Observers demand independent investigation

On 9 April 2021, two members of the Pamrahwan Yonif RK 763 military post tortured indigenous Papuan, Moses Yewen, 45, in the village of Wayo, Tambrauw Regency. He reported the incident to the military police and demanded the withdrawal of military personnel from Fef and the Tambrauw Regency.  On 7 May 2021, Moses Yewen suddenly passed away in his house in the Wayo Village, Fef District. Observers believe that his death is related to the torture he experienced one month earlier. Mose Yewen (see photo, Suara Papua) was an indigenous land rights holder in the Fef District, where the military has erected a military post and a military sub-district command.

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What about Jokowi’s promise to open access for foreign journalists to West Papua?

On 10 May 2015, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) declared during a visit to the Merauke Regency, Papua Province, that the government will open access for foreign journalists to the provinces Papua and Papua Barat. Jokowi explained during the interview that the Clearing House procedure would be abolished, and foreign journalists covering events in West Papua would no longer need special permission differing from the permission for other parts of Indonesia.

Five years after Jokowi’s promise, it is not clear to what extent President Jokowi’s commitment in 2015 was implemented. Human rights organisations criticise that the statement was never enforced through government regulation. Such regulation should guarantee that foreign journalists can cover news events freely in West Papua without intimidation, limitations or being escorted by security force members during media coverage.

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Again internet breakdown as armed conflict escalates – Coincidence or deliberate government measure?

Since 30 April 2021, the internet in Papua’s largest city, Jayapura, has been dysfunctional. The breakdown occurred only five days after members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) killed a Papuan intelligence chief in the Puncak Regency on 25 April 2021. Thereupon, Indonesian security forces launched an operation against the TPN PB on 27 April to find and arrest the perpetrators. Media observers and human rights activists suspect that the Government has deliberately shut down the internet to impede the flow of information on the conflict situation in the central highlands. Similar operations over the past two years have been frequently accompanied by human rights violations and internal displacement of the indigenous population.

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SAFEnet suspects internet disruptions in West Papua are deliberate

The South-East Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) affirms that the internet disruptions seem to co-relate with security-related incidents in West Papua over the past year. The internet in the regencies Jayapura and Sarmi has been dysfunctional since 30 April as the violent conflict in the central highlands gained new tension after the West Papua National Liberation Army killed the Papuan Intelligence Chief. Vice President of Corporate Communications of telecommunications company PT Telkom, Pujo Pramono, declared that the disconnection of a submarine cable was responsible for the disruption. The connection will be fully recovered in the first week of June 2021, said Pramono.

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More Articles...

  1. Further armed clashes cause more internal displacement in Puncak Regency
  2. What’s wrong with the education and healthcare system in West Papua? A case study in Yalimo provides insights
  3. Police press charges against Papuan student for social media post
  4. Papuan man arrested for alleged weapon trade – Lawyers rise allegation of torture against police
  5. First effects of Govt’s terrorist label for Papuan armed groups - Papuan student organisation in Bali stigmatised as terrorists
  6. Indigenous communities demand the stop of construction of military command and immediate withdrawal of military in Tambrauw
  7. Indonesian Govt labelling Papuan resistance groups as terrorists earns widespread criticism
  8. Indonesian Government labels Papuan armed separatist groups as terrorists
  9. Military operation in Puncak causes internal displacement - Jakarta continues deployment of additional troops
  10. TPN PB kills Papua Intelligence Chief in Puncak Regency – Human rights observers fear further military raids
  11. Verdict in trial against political activist – Judges sentence Soon Tabuni to 1 year and € 57,000 fine
  12. Journalist in West Papua subjected to intimidation – Activists urge the police to prosecute perpetrators
  13. New Report on Deforestation in West Papua - Highest levels of deforestation occurred under Jokowi Government
  14. Public order police prohibit peaceful assembly and intimidates protesters in Deiyai
  15. Law enforcement process against 2 Papuan students in Jakarta – Judge rules arrest in accordance with criminal procedure code
  16. Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2021
  17. Minister says previous Government responsible for massive deforestation in West Papua – NGOs demand action against illegal palm oil businesses
  18. Police officers torture Papuan during custody in Nabire
  19. West Papua Council of Churches asks the MSG to accept ULMWP's membership
  20. Greenpeace publishes revealing report on deforestation in West Papua
  21. Soldiers torture Papuan man in Tambrauw Regency - Residents demand the withdrawal of military
  22. Resistance fighters execute two teachers and a pupil in Puncak Regency
  23. West Papua Council of Churches: President Widodo should meet the Papua pro-referendum group
  24. Security force members shoot dead Papuan gold panner in Mimika Regency
  25. Amnesty International publishes new report – Human rights situation in West Papua shows no improvement
  26. Students launch peaceful protest against Freeport mine in Jayapura – Police disperse crowd and arrest three protesters
  27. 12 KNPB Activists in Merauke provisionally released from police detention
  28. Temianus Wandikbo sentenced to 16 months for alleged involvement in Freeport shooting
  29. Further case of enforced disappearance causes ethnic tensions in Nduga
  30. Update on the situation of IDPs from Nduga and Intan Jaya – Activists confirm further fatalities

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