- Published on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 12:21
In its latest report, the ICP brings together the research of 25 organisations and experts from in- and outside West Papua on the situation of human rights, indigenous peoples' rights and the conflict situation there. It details in particular the demographic development and its causes as well as the ongoing violence by security forces that targets indigenous Papuans.
The development of the human rights situation in West Papua during 2013 and 2014 shows a deterioration compared to the period covered by the ICP’s previous report. West Papua on the Guinea island bordering Asia and the Pacific and comprising the two east Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat continues to be one of the regions of Asia most seriously affected by human rights violations and an unresolved long standing political conflict. The living conditions of the indigenous Papuan peoples are in stark contrast to those of the trans-migrants from other parts of Indonesia.
The number of arrests during demonstrations has risen to several hundred per year peaking at 470 arrests in May 2014 alone. The annual number of cases of threats, intimidations and obstruction of work of local journalists have almost doubled compared to previous years. At the same time, the number of demonstrations has gone down as a result of more repressive policies and actions by security forces against political civil society movements. The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has still not been allowed to visit West Papua, despite Indonesia’s earlier positive announcement. In August 2014, two French journalists were arrested and sentenced to two and half months imprisonment for having violated immigration laws.
This report details cases of violations between April 2013 and December 2014 documented by human rights organisations and churches in West Papua, in Jakarta and by international human rights organisations. Local organisations recorded 47 demonstrations in that period. All but five of them ended with arrests. Torture and ill-treatment were frequently practiced during crack downs of demonstrations. Eighteen further cases of torture were selected for this report. The cases of documented extra-judicial killings of civilians by security forces during the given period amounts to 22 deaths. All of those victims were indigenous Papuans. On 8 December 2014 security forces opened fire on a large group of indigenous Papuans who protested against excessive violence by security forces. At least four school students were killed and 17 others were injured. The perpetrators of this incident have, as in most other cases not been brought to justice.
Local churches and human rights organisations note an increase of horizontal violence between indigenous and trans-migrant communities. Police often consent to or support the victimization of Papuans instead of adopting an impartial law enforcement practice. The case that took place at the Yotefa Market in Abepura on 2 July 2014 details how police cooperated with a mob of trans-migrants in torturing an indigenous Papuan.
The population share of indigenous Papuans in West Papua has fallen to an estimated 42% in 2015. This is due to an ongoing influx of transmigrants from other parts of Indonesia and a poor population growth rate of indigenous Papuans. This situation and its causes are detailed in the sections on population and health.
Observers note an ongoing breakdown in the health care and education system in remote highland regions as well as other parts of West Papua. 11.5 % of children die before the age of five in the highlands of West Papua. According to data from 2012, the under five mortality rate in West Papua is about double the rate in neighbouring Papua New Guinea and about three times the average rate in Indonesia. No country in Asia or the Pacific had such a high rate in that year.
Literacy rates have gone down to less than 20% in remote villages due to reduced access to education. As a result young Papuan women and men have less opportunities to play an active role in public services and to find other employment.
The ongoing influx of transmigrants, the absence of opportunities for young Papuans together with corruption cause a growth of social inequalities, social tensions and frustrations. Many Papuans continue to seek a solution through political aspirations calling for a referendum and support from neighbouring countries in the Pacific.
President Joko Widodo has indicated his intention to change the Indonesian policy towards West Papua. He had announced that he would support an opening of the conflict region to international observers such as journalists and that there is a need to end transmigration programs. While these would present important improvements in the situation, the administration in Jakarta has not supported this approach with real action.