Update Anti-Racism Demonstrations: Government responds with mass arrests and prosecution of activists

Almost one month has passed since the first anti-racism demonstrations in response to racist assaults against Papuan students in the Javanese cities of Malang and Surabaya have taken place in all cities across West Papua. The Indonesian Government has responded with mass arrests and a widespread criminalisation campaign against political activists and human rights defenders. Statistic data suggests that Indonesian police officers conducted 174 arrests and pressed criminal charges against 88 suspects between 20 August and 17 September 2019 (see table below).

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Full response - Veronica Koman published press statement on Facebook

Human rights defender and lawyer Veronica Koman, who actively advocates for human rights in West Papua, published a press stament in Indonesian on 14 September and an international press statement on 15 September 2020 on her personal Facebook account. Among others, she denies any wrongdoing, accuses the Indonesian Embassy staff of intimidation and the police of power abuse. The full statement reads as follows:

International Press Statement by Veronica Koman
Over the past eleven days I have chosen not to respond to various accusations aired on an almost daily basis by the Indonesian police through mass media. This is not because the police's accusations are true, but because I refuse to participate in efforts to divert attention from the real crisis currently gripping West Papua.

 

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UN experts request Indonesia to protect rights of Veronica Koman and others reporting on Papua protests

Indonesia must protect the rights of all people to peaceful protest, ensure access to the internet and protect the rights of human rights defender Veronica Koman and all others reporting on protests in Papua and West Papua, say UN human rights experts. Veronica Koman, a lawyer who has been subjected to harassment and abuse online for her continuing work on alleged human rights violations in Papua, was named as a "suspect" by authorities who accused her of spreading false information and provoking unrest after she published reports on the protests and on a racist attack against Papuan students in East Java that had triggered the demonstrations.

The UN experts; namely Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule (Togo), Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Mr. David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia),Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane (Ethiopia), Chair of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; and Mr. Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said: "We call for immediate measures to ensure the protection of freedom of expression and address acts of harassment, intimidation, interference, undue restriction and threats against those reporting on the protests". The OHCHR released the following Statement earlier today:

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YouTube blocks West Papua satirical video on request of the Indonesian Government

On 28. August YouTube blocked a satirical video about West Papua from being viewed in Indonesia as a consequence of a 'legal complaint from the government'. The video titled 'Visit West Papua' satirizes the Australian government's policies on West Papua and portrays the Indonesian government as colonizers and the Australian government as standing by for its own profit.

The video, created by Australian Company The Juice Media, is one of many part of the company's Honest Government Ad series and was first uploaded on Nov. 21, 2018 but was re-shared on The Juice Media's Twitter account and other social media in the past weeks following widespread protests and rioting in Papua and West Papua.

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Jayapura Police alleged of neglect – Nationalist militant groups attack indigenous Papuans

Human rights defenders have reported a series of organised horizontal violence by nationalist militant organisations against indigenous Papuans in the Papuans cities of Jayapura and Fak-Fak. The attacks occurred after thousands of indigenous Papuans protested against acts of racial discrimination against Papuan students in the island of Java. Protesters in almost all cities of Papua raised morning star flags, demanding political Independence from the Indonesian state.

Members of the ‘Kelompok Nusantara’ group (Nusantara Group) and the ‘Barisan Merah Putih’ (Red White Front) consisting of Non-Papuans armed with weapons attacked indigenous Papuans, mainly those originating from the central highlands, which are known to be a stronghold of the West Papuan independence movement. The majority of members of these two groups come from the Islands of Java and Sulawesi and are former members of the police and the military and their sons. Accordingly, the members of such groups have the support of security forces and often enjoy impunity.

 

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Papua Church Leaders call for the involvement of the international community

Church Leaders from GKI, GIDI, Fellowship of Baptist Churches and KINGMI Papua have expressed their concern about the situation in Papua. They express their sympathy to the victims of violence and those with lost or damaged property during the protests between 19-29 August across Papua and West Papua. They also express their gratitude to the thousands of Papuans who have been brave to protest against racial discrimination, something that has been experienced for a long time by Papuans in all walks of life.

On their Letter of Appeal, the Church Leaders recount a series of concerning events that took place between the first day of protests and 3 September 2019 and have led to a crisis situation with escalating violence and the continued heavy presence of security forces. They conclude by calling for international action and urging the Government of Indonesia to have a mediated dialogue with the ULMWP.

DOWNLOAD THE PASTORAL LETTER OF APPEAL AS PFD HERE

 

Military members alleged of killing indigenous Papuan in Wouma District, Jayawijaya Regency

The Foundation for Justice and Integrity of the Papuan People (YKKMP) has documented credible information regarding allegations of an extra-judicial killing by army members of the 756 Wim Anesili Wouma Battalion. According to the information received, four soldiers guarding Wimane Sili military post in Wouma District collectively tortured 23-year-old Analok Heselo on 15 August 2019, around 9.15 pm. The military members approached Analok Heselo as he was sitting in front of the military post smoking a cigarette and repeatedly beat him with rubber batons. Subsequently, the military members dragged Analok Heselo inside the military post, where they poured water over him and continued the beatings.

 

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Amnesty International Press Release - Attempted criminalisation of human rights Lawyer Veronica Koman

Drop charges against lawyer for Papuan political activists

Responding to the East Java police’s decision to bring charges against human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“Veronica Koman is a human rights defender who has provided legal aid to many Papuan political activists and documented human rights violations in Papua. She is now being persecuted for tweeting about a violent attack on a Papuan student’s dormitory on August 17, in which police fired tear gas.

“This is an appalling attack on the right to freedom of expression in Indonesia, and a brazen attempt to silence a brave activist. These charges are clearly intended to deter others from speaking out against human rights violations related to Papua.

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Update on IDP situation in Gome, Puncak Regency – number of IDPs raise to 1.500

Since 24 August 2019, joint security forces have raided multiple villages in the Gome district of Puncak Regency, Papua Province. The security force operations have forced indigenous villagers in the Gome district to flee their villages. Initial reports from 26 August 2019 estimated that approximately 800 indigenous Papuans had been internally displaced and sought refuge in temporary shelters in Yenggernok Village. According to information dated 5 September 2019, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yenggernok have risen to more than 1.500 persons, originating from eleven villages. Security forces reportedly carried out raids in eight of the villages, namely Kelanungin, Upaga, Tegelobak, Misimaga, Niggibuma, Agome, Gome, and Yenggegolawi. The security force members allegedly seized gardening tools and killed pig livestock.

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Amnesty International urges police to drop treason charges against six Papuan activists in Java

3 September 2019         Index: ASA 21/0970/2019
 
INDONESIA: POLICE MUST DROP MAKAR (REBELLION) CHARGES AGAINST SIX PAPUAN ACTIVISTS

Amnesty International Indonesia urges the Jakarta Regional Police Force (Polda) to immediately drop all “rebellion (makar)” charges brought against six political activists who are campaigning for the right to self-determination for Papua, and to immediately and unconditionally release them. The activists were charged and detained under Articles 106 and 110 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code (KUHP), which cover crimes against the security of the state, solely for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

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More Articles...

  1. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concern about the situation in West Papua
  2. West Papua-wide anti-racism protests accompanied by violence – eight protesters killed, 31 injured during crackdown in Waghete
  3. Security force operation in Puncak Regency – about 800 indigenous IDPs flee their homes
  4. Leading ULMWP activist arrested and charged with document forgery
  5. Government imposes internet blockade after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  6. Police prevents peaceful commemoration of the ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’
  7. Commemorations of New York Agreement accompanied by arrests, violence and racism - Papuan students subjected to harassment and assaults
  8. Update trial: JUT sentenced to five months imprisonment
  9. New law allows prosecution of foreign researchers – academics fear restrictions of academic freedom
  10. Constitutional court reviews law on the formation of Papua Province
  11. Update Armed Conflict in Nduga Regency: CSOs estimate a total number of 177 fatalities and more than 5.000 IDPs
  12. Joint Submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry - Media Freedom in West Papua
  13. The Salim Group builds palm oil empire in West Papua
  14. New Caledonia rejects independence from France – Next referendum possible in 2020
  15. Papuan church congregation under police surveillance – Church members prevented from attending worship in Jayapura
  16. Commemorations of Papuan independence Proclamation – Protesters face intimidation and restrictions on freedom of assembly
  17. Update armed conflict in Nduga Regency – security force members kill indigenous woman and take her baby
  18. Human rights defenders reveal illegal gold mining operation at Siriwo River, Nabire Regency
  19. Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2019
  20. 23 victims of extra-judicial killings in West Papua throughout 2018
  21. Update on ongoing military operation in Nduga Regency – death toll higher than expected
  22. Ronaldo Yawan dies during detention at police station in Biak – relatives raise allegations of torture
  23. Two prisoners die after attempted escape from Abepura Detention Facility – KOMNAS HAM suspects prison negligence
  24. Second extra-judicial killing in Wogikel Village within ten months
  25. Political detainee’s physical condition deteriorates during detention – relatives request adequate medical treatment
  26. The Mairasi Tribe protests against prolongation of logging concession
  27. Terrorist organization allegedly established training camps in West Papua
  28. Military member opens fire at group of protesters in Asmath regency – four protesters killed, another four injured
  29. AHRC on Indonesia: A Review of the Indonesian Government’s Obligation under International Human Rights Instruments in Regard to the Truth, Remedy and Justice of Gross Violations of Human Rights
  30. The WCC Executive Committee Statement: Concern and Solidarity for West Papua