Human Rights Update West Papua - 4th Quarter 2017

In the fourth quarter of 2017, the monitoring of human rights violations does not show a significant improvement in terms of violence in West Papua. While the number of political arrestees has decreased, the number and pattern of cases of political arrests remained consistent. The police appears to target arrests more instead of mere mass arrests. The West Papua National Committee KNPB continues to be the main target group of political arrests in West Papua. The number of extra-judicial executions or arbitrary killings as well as the number of torture victims has not decreased. The same applies to the number of assaults against journalists and human rights defenders. The right to health continues to be of serious concern, particularly in the central highlands of West Papua, which continue to be vulnerable to outbreaks of transmittable diseases.


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During the reporting period Papuan human rights defenders reported another case of health negligence in Yahukimo Regency in October 2017. 38 villagers died over a period of approximately three months due to various diseases, whilst the government did not take notice of the devastating health condition in the area. In the same month a local journalist was intimidated by security force members in Enarotali. In Moso, a small village in Jayapura Regency near the PNG boarder, four villagers were tortured by army members who maintain a security post at Moso. A further severe case of torture was reported from south Sorong Regency, where a conflict over land between palm oil company PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) and indigenous land owners had peaked into several cases of intimidation and torture. The most significant event during the past three months took place in Tembaggapura in November 2017, as violent clashes between security forces and independence fighters occurred. The case reached Indonesia-wide attention through national media as high officials of the army and police classified the situation as the 'taking of 1.400 hostages by a criminal armed group' because a village in the affected area had been cut-off from supplies. Media outlets also reported of two further cases in which security force members had committed physical assaults against local journalists in the regencies Mimika and Jayapura. The number of cases during the reporting period peaked in December 2017, which is commonly a month of concern due to commemorations of the 1st December in West Papua. As in previous years, several commemorations were accompanied by political arrests. A human rights coalition in the central highlands reported that security forces raided houses in the Mugi District of Nduga Regency. According to a press release by the coalition five villagers sustained bullet injures while another four were tortured – amongst them three minors. Two human rights defenders faced intimidation after they had spread information about the security force raid. Security force members denied the incident. Moreover, human rights defenders reported two extra-judicial killings and one case of disappearance.

Read what UN mechanisms observe and recommend regarding human rights in West Papua on our website.