Papuan human rights defender threatened and stigmatised as separatist

Papuan human rights defender, Theo Hesegem, was verbally attacked and discredited by members of the government’s customary organisation ‘Lembaga Musyawarah Adat’ (LMA) at the airport in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, on 15 November 2020. Mr Hesegem had come to monitor the security situation at the airport. The situation threatened to escalate as LMA members and sympathisers of the ‘Red White Front’ (‘Barisan Merah Putih’ or BMP) prevented a delegation of 62 people from leaving the airport building. The delegation was seconded by the Papuan Peoples Assembly (MRP) to hold a consultation hearing about the success and failure of the Papuan Special Autonomy. Multiple plain cloth intelligence officers and military members recorded the incident with cell phone cameras without making any effort to deescalate the situation.

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Members of Papuan Peoples' Assembly face intimidation and arrest during preparation of hearings about Papuan Special Autonomy

In 2001, the Indonesian government adopted Law No. 21/2001 on the Special Autonomy for the Papua Province. The government also approved special autonomy funds for 20 years. As the funding period is coming to an end, the Papuan Peoples’ Assembly (MRP) has launched a series of consultation hearings (Bhs Indonesia: Rapat Dengar Pendapat or RDP which can be translated as “meetings to listen to opinions”) to determine the aspirations of the Papuan people regarding a possible prolongation of Special Autonomy funding for the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat. Article 77 of the law No. 21/2001 provides the legal foundation for “any proposals regarding the amendment of the Law” and mandates the MRP to hold RDP hearings across West Papua.

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Palm oil conglomerate Korind accused of clearing rainforest in West Papua with fire

A new investigation by Greenpeace International and Forensic Architecture has concluded that the Indonesian-South-Korean palm oil conglomerate Korindo has been using slash and burn practices to clear rainforests in West Papua. The organisations used cutting-edge data analysis to prove the direct correlation between the appearance of fires and the expansion of Korindo’s palm oil plantation in one of the company’s concession areas in West Papua. According to the NGOs, the fires occurred in patterns of consistent, deliberate use. Indonesian law prohibits the use of fire for the clearing of forest areas.

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Indonesian Bishops call for dialogue in West Papua

Representatives of the Catholic Church in Indonesia, in particular from the West Papua province, have held talks with the country's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs. The meeting was held on 3 November at Mr Mahfud MD's residence, and were aimed at discussing the various problems afflicting the restive province. Following the killing of Mr Rufinus Tigau, a Catholic catechist from Intan Jaya District, Papua, the Catholic Church leaders met with key Indonesian security officials to urge the Indonesian Government to ease tensions through dialogue. The meeting took place at Minister Mahfud MD's residence with the objective to discuss the on-going conflicts and problems faced by the easternmost Province of Indonesia. It was attended by: Mgr. Aloysius Murwito, OFM - the Bishop Agats; Mgr. Petrus Canisius Mandagi MSC -the Bishop of Amboina and at the same time was the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Merauke; and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, President of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI). Bishop Mandagi spoke to UCA News that the meeting was held for an hour and they discussed "various problems in Tanah Papua land, especially the violence."

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Korindo accused of illegally burning Papuan rainforest

Since 2011, fires have been used to clear vast areas of forests in remote areas of the Indonesian province of West Papua, including concessions sites operated by the Indonesian-South Korean palm oil conglomerate Korindo. Forensic Architecture and Greenpeace International have examined this allegation independently and investigated whether the cause of the fires could be identified in Korindo's palm oil concessions in Papua. The investigation concluded that Korindo has been using slash and burn practices to clear rainforests in West Papua and is therefore in breach of the Indonesian law. The organisations used cutting-edge data analysis to prove the direct correlation between the appearance of fires and the expansion of Korindo's palm oil plantation in one of the company's concession areas in West Papua.

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Humanitarian Team for Intan Jaya shares its findings concerning the killing of Pastor Zanambani

The Independent Humanitarian Team for Intan Jaya is a team consisting of a number of religious leaders, academics, and humanitarian activists in Papua. This team was formed to respond to the murder of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, who was killed on September 19, 2020, in Hitadipa, Intan Jaya. After submitting its report to Minister Mahfud, the team has publicly shared details of their investigation. The following are the findings as described in the document "Findings of the Humanitarian Team for Intan Jaya Papua" released by the team on 29 October 2020. The document provides thorough information and suggests that Rev Zanambani was killed by one or more members of the army. 

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"Papuan Lives Matter" - ELSAM launches new documentary about 2019 anti-racism protests

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), a Jakarta-based human rights NGO, has launched a documentary with the title “Papuan Lives Matter” on 15 November 2020. The documentary was produced in cooperation with Nalar TV, and it describes the background as well as the aftermaths of the Papua-wide protests against racial discrimination of indigenous Papuans (see top image). The demonstrations and the subsequent criminalisation campaign against protesters, human rights defenders and political activists must be regarded as one of the most significant events in Indonesia throughout 2019.

Watch full documentary “Papuan Lives Matter” in Indonesian with English Subtitles*

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Pacific Conference of Churches calls for "40 Days of Hunger for Justice and Peace" in West Papua

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), based in Fiji, has called for a time of fasting for 40 days and prayer for West Papua. It calls for members to skip at least 1 meal a day in the period from 28 October to 6 December 2020. Through this action, the PCC is supporting the demands of the West Papuan Council of Churches, which calls on Indonesia to enter dialogue towards a peaceful resolution of the situation and an end to militarisation. Rev James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the PCC has openly shared the following letter. 

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Human rights lawyer intimidated in Jayapura

The ICP has credible information regarding the intimidation of Papuan lawyer and human rights defender, Gustaf Kawer (see photo, source: Jubi), in the city of Jayapura on 7 November 2020. Around 09.30 pm, Mr Kawer stopped his car in front of a store to buy something for their children, his family was with him in the car. In that moment a red pick-up truck with a police plate number (AD 1722 PJ) approached them from behind and overtook their car. The pick-up truck came so close to their car that the side doors and one side mirror of Mr Kawer’s car were damaged. Gustaf Kawer wanted to hold the driver accountable for the damage, so he followed the pick-up truck but was not able to keep pace with the fast pick-up. The pick-up truck escaped through the traffic with high speed. The following day, Mr Kawer tried to trace the owner with the plate number. He found out that the vehicle used a false plate number which was not officially registered.

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Another church worker killed in Intan Jaya – Security force members accuse victim of being TPN PB member

Human rights organisations have documented the extra-judicial killing of a church worker in the regency of Intan Jaya. Mr Rufinus Tigau, 28, was shot dead by members of the Nemangkawi Joint Security Force Unit in the village of Jalae, Sugapa District on 26 October 2020. During the operation, twelve-year-old Meinus Bagubau sustained a bullet wound to the hip. Security force representatives claim that Rufinus Tigau was associated with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). A representative of the Catholic Diocese in Timika confirmed that Rufinus Tigau was officially appointed as a catechist in the Catholic Jalae congregation.

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More Articles...

  1. Verdict in treason trial against 23 Papuan political detainees in Fakfak
  2. Allegations of enforced disappearance in Nduga Regency – Two indigenous leaders missing after military operation
  3. Police fail to respect freedom of peaceful assembly in West Papua – 13 protesters arrested, one injured by bullet during demonstration against Otsus II
  4. Update on killing of Rev Zanambani in Intan Jaya – Fact finding team submits report to Minister Mahfud MD
  5. Military members show up in church during ordination of new priests
  6. Indonesian Government plans to establish new plantations in Papua Province
  7. Update on armed conflict in Intan Jaya – Government plans exploitation of gold reserves while residents face displacement and education crisis
  8. Three Papuans shot down as police disperses unrest in Keerom
  9. Human Rights Update West Papua - 3rd Quarter 2020
  10. PAHAM Papua Media Release - Stop the transfer and processing of defendants outside of Papua with the argument Papua is not safe
  11. Pacific Islands Forum reaffirms support for open and constructive dialogue on the human rights situation in West Papua
  12. West Papua Council of Churches demands the Govt to stop the remilitarisation of Papua
  13. Military member sentenced to 1 year 10 months for killing four Papuans in 2019
  14. Press release by the Civil Society Coalition against Food Estate in Papua: Stop Food Estate Plans in Papua
  15. Military member allegedly shot down Catholic church worker in Intan Jaya
  16. Minister seconds team to investigate shooting in Intan Jaya – Papuan civil society rejects team
  17. The 2019 West Papua Uprising - TAPOL's publication
  18. Raid in Wuluagaima village – Security forces torture three indigenous Papuans, two arbitrarily arrested
  19. Youth Forum concerned about the shrinking space for democracy in West Papua
  20. Police crackdown on peaceful student protest in Jayapura – at least two students injured
  21. Mysterious death of pastor in Nabire raises questions – Relatives allege police is covering facts
  22. UN Experts question Indonesia regarding security operation in Nduga
  23. Papuan students in Makassar attacked during peaceful protest against prolongation of Papuan Special Autonomy
  24. Three KNPB activists currently tried under treason charges at Sorong District Court
  25. Peaceful protests against prolongation of Papuan Special Autonomy in Nabire and Timika – Police responds with mass arrests
  26. Papuan Youth Church Leaders condemn actions of military regarding the killing of Pastor Zanambani
  27. Students launch petition against prolongation of Papuan special autonomy in Manado – Police reacts with roadblocks and tear gas
  28. Police officer in Manokwari prevents lawyers from meeting with defendants
  29. Indonesia must inform on allegations of extra-judicial killings in West Papua #PapuanLivesMatter
  30. Indigenous Papuan allegedly tortured during police custody in Merauke – Suspect dies in health centre

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