This last quarter shows little fluctuations in human rights statistics, indicating neither a positive nor a negative trend in the human rights situation in West Papua. However, 2021 marked the most violent year of armed conflict in the past five years, if not the last decade. As of 15 December 2021, the ICP documented 85 armed clashes, causing the deaths of 18 security force members and 23 members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). At least 28 civilians were killed due to armed clashes, while more than 60,000 indigenous Papuans continue to be internally displaced.
The West Papua Council of Curches published moral calls in November and December 2021. Apart from the increasing armed violence, the calls addressed the criminalisation of human rights defenders and growing Islamisation in West Papua. Almost 200 Catholic priests issued a similar moral call in November 2021.
The central government announced its plan to change the conflict approach in West Papua in 2022. They should be supported by all government actors, including the police and military, to push development in both provinces. According to the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, the current combat operations in West Papua will become territorial operations. They shall include public services such as healthcare, agriculture and education programs. Observers expressed concerns that the policy change will be nothing more than mere rhetoric. Mahfud had claimed that all security operations in West Papua would be continued, emphasising that these were ‘law enforcement operations’. Previously, multiple police and military representatives in West Papua had declared their openness to enter into peace negotiations with the TPN PB.
Significant international developments also characterised this quarter. In early December, the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) applied for full membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group MSG. UN Special Procedures mandate holders twice issued a press release against the criminalisation and harassment of human rights advocates Veronica Koman, Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar in November and December 2021. On 15 November 2021, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) published its concluding observations (CEDAW/C/IDN/CO/8) in Indonesia’s 8th reporting cycle.
The Indonesian Constitutional Court announced multiple verdicts with consequences for the situation in West Papua. Judges ruled on 27 October that the Government acted lawfully by imposing an internet shutdown during the ‘West Papua Uprising’ in August and September 2019. In another verdict on 25 November 2021, the judges announced that the Omnibus Law for Job Creation or Law No 11/2020 on Job Creation contradicts the 1945 Constitution. They did not revoke the law but gave the government and the Indonesian parliament two years to amend it. A further constitutional court process to examine the legality of recent amendments to the Special Autonomy Law for the provinces Papua and Papua Barat is still pending. The application was submitted by the Papuan Peoples Councils MRP and MRPB in June 2021.
The first consequences of amendments to the Special Autonomy Law were observed in fields of healthcare and education in November and December 2021. The shift of authority and responsibility from the provincial government to the central government caused confusion about the allocation of funds for healthcare and education facilities in West Papua.
On 3 December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) formed a team of 22 prosecutors who shall investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Paniai regency, Papua Province, on 8 December 2014. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) delegated an investigation team to the Pegunungan Bintang Regency to investigate the burning of health facilities and the killing of a health worker in the Kiwirok District. Observers alleged the Indonesian military of dropping explosives on civilian settlements in the Pegunungan Bintang.