Papua, Jubi – British MPs have urged the government to do more to press Indonesia to stop human rights abuses and violence in Papua.
On Wednesday, the UK’s elected representatives in the House of Commons debated West Papua and its human rights problems.
As well as probing concerns about the ongoing military conflict in Papua’s central highlands, MPs discussed historical grievances which Papuans say undermine the legitimacy Indonesian rule in the region.
The debate heard about the issues at the core of West Papuans’ grievances with Indonesian rule.
Witney’s MP Robert Courts of the Conservative Party pointed out that West Papuans have the right to self-determination like every other human.
But he said it was difficult to conclude that the former Dutch New Guinea’s incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s was carried out in accordance with international practice or captured the true democratic will of the West Papuan people.
“In the eyes of many West Papuans, the fundamental questions about the legitimacy of the so-called Act of Free Choice undermine the very legitimacy of Indonesian rule in West Papua.
“In the past 50 years, the West Papuan people have been subjected to serious human rights violations, which have only fuelled and heightened that sense of injustice.
“Those human rights violations include the repression of free speech and peaceful assembly, impediments to a free press, arbitrary arrest, and even cases of torture and killings, as we have heard.”
Mr Courts and several other MPs said Indonesia’s military in Papua had long committed human rights violations which went unchecked, or were dealt with before military tribunals with no transparency, leaving many victims of human rights violations awaiting justice.
Democratic Unionist Jim Shannon of Strangford said the British MPs were using the debate to speak for a people who were otherwise denied both justice and a voice.
“The brutality of the Indonesian Government in cracking down on separatists has created an environment in which anyone suspected of supporting Papuan independence can become subject to human rights violations by police and security forces, including unlawful killing, torture and beating.
“Thus the rights of West Papuans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are heavily curtailed.
“The oppression of the media and freedom of expression ensures that the terrible oppression of West Papuans continues away from the international community’s awareness. I do not believe that we, as part of the international community, can sit back and do nothing.”
The debate zeroed in on the armed conflict in Papua’s Highlands between Indonesian military forces and the West Papua Liberation Army.
Indonesian military forces recently intensified their operations in the area after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 Indonesian road construction workers in Nduga regency in December.
While the conflict rumbles on, with intermittent exchanges ongoing around Nduga, a humanitarian crisis has unfolded in this remote region.
Labour MP Helen Goodman raised concern about the many Papuan villagers caught in the middle of the conflict
“Innocent West Papuans are clearly not getting the protection they so badly need. They are being treated as legitimate targets by the Indonesian military. I want to talk about the use of white phosphorous. I believe that white phosphorous was used inappropriately.”
The British Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, responded to the claim that Indonesia was using chemical weapons in the conflict.
“Our own investigations have not substantiated the media claims that it was used in violation of the chemical weapons convention. But I am more than happy to look at any additional written or other evidence.”
Robert Courts said that as a close and important friend of Indonesia, the UK should apply diplomatic pressure on Jakarta for improvements on human rights in Papua.
“The first thing I ask the Minister to consider doing is to push for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. That should not be controversial; indeed, in a February 2018 meeting with the then UN High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Indonesian President Jokowi invited his office to visit West Papua.
“Sadly, some 15 months on, that visit has not taken place, and the former UN High Commissioner expressed concern about that in his update to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.”
The Minister said the UK was talking to Jakarta about its concerns.
“When I met the Indonesian ambassador to London in January, I raised those issues with him, and in the light of the contemporary violence in Nduga, where armed groups had attacked construction workers, resulting in the deaths of 19 people.
“We urged the Indonesian authorities then to ensure that any security response is proportionate.”
The minister acknowledged the MPs’ concerns about Papua, including regarding restrictions on media freedom and the detention of political prisoners in Papua, but said he was encouraged by Indonesian president Joko Widodo taking steps to address these problems.
Overall, the government is not about to advocate a new self-determination referendum for West Papuans
“I agree that the Act of Free Choice was an utterly flawed process, but I have to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Witney, and to the Chamber, that there is no desire in the international community for reopening the question. The UK, along with other members of the UN, supports Indonesia’s territorial integrity.” 15 seconds
Mr Field said the government would content to support efforts by the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and her officials to arrange a visit to Papua.
He also promised the British government would continue to keep a close eye on the situation in Papua. (*)
Individuals might take advantage of current situation in Papua for own interests to meet President Widodo
Jayapura, Jubi – Emus Gwijangge, Papua parliament member from the Democratic fraction, appeals to any individuals or groups to not exploit the current situation in Papua for their personal or group interests.
He said this to pointing some recent group meetings with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. The first group, he mentioned, met the president and then proposed some requests, while another group claimed Papuan youth representatives met some state officials. And the most recently some officials of the Indonesian community group in Papua met President Widodo and asked the president to divide the region of Papua into seven indigenous territories in both Papua and Papua Barat provinces.
“Everyone has a right to meet the president. But please do not act on behalf of indigenous Papuans while requesting something to the president,” Gwijangge told Jubi on Wednesday (16/10/2019).
According to him, indigenous Papuans never ask for a title, new regional split or anything else. What they want is the central government sit together with them in a forum facilitated by the third parties addressing some issues that occurred in Papua.
“What indigenous peoples want is a historical correction as well as the settlement of many cases of human rights violations in Papua. Therefore, the Melanesian race no needs to continue our contention against the central government. We shouldn’t go to Jakarta for asking so many random requests,” he said.
Moreover, he hopes President Widodo and other state officials should carefully accept the proposed meeting by any groups from Papua who claimed to represent indigenous peoples.
He said if the president and state officials want to meet indigenous Papuans, they must invite the indigenous representatives. Also, the provincial government officials, local parliament and Papua’s People Assembly members and religious leaders are there to consider.
“The sort of this representation would guarantee that the aspirations delivered to the president are coming from the indigenous Papuans. It would contribute to the future of our grandchildren for they would not be engaged in the same problems and continuously become victims,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Taufan Damanik, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said Komnas HAM has repeatedly advised President Jokowi to come to Papua for a dialogue. The president is suggested meeting people and any relevant stakeholders to solve problems in Papua.
However, he said, the president has contrary invited other groups, who claimed themselves as Papuan leaders, to Jakarta.
“Inviting a group of people from Papua to Jakarta is not what we meant, but the president himself needs to come to Papua,” said Ahmad Taufan. (*)
Reporter: Arjuna Pademme
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Discrimination handling refugees hurts Papuans
Jayapura, Jubi – The way government handling the humanitarian conflict in Papua has become a spotlight. Many people think the government are being discriminative in handling Nduga refugees compared to refugees from Wamena.
A native Ndugama Resina Lokbere said that she is discouraged seeing how the government differently treated refugees from both areas. “I see a huge difference approach here. Although the government always declare our national motto ‘unity in diversity’, but I have not seen this applied in Papua. A conflict in Nduga has occurred since 1 December 2018. Since then, Nduga residents must leave their villages and flee to other regions and the jungle to avoid a military operation,” she said.
Moreover, she said if the government are a concern in settling the humanitarian conflict in Papua, they should treat people fairly. The government should treat people equally, regardless of indigenous Papuans or non-Papuans.
“Thousands of youth and children drop out of school, and now they are living under poor health condition. There is economic loses as well. Who knows whether they will be survived or dead after a few months of suffering without enough food and water? I don’t know. Only God is the witness of their suffering,” said Resina whose relatives refuge from Nduga.
In her view, the way the government handling the issue of refugees can create a barrier in society. She thinks the government has indirectly built a wall between one community to others.
“The government should not perceive conflicts in Nduga and Wamena merely from a political view but also a humanitarian aspect. They are all your people. They need you. They need your action, not your promises on the public stage,” she said.
Meanwhile, a local parliament member Laurenzus Kadepa also think the government has shown different response in handling refugees due to conflicts occurred in Nduga and Wamena.
According to him, he observed that the victims of conflict in Wamena were promptly evacuated or accommodated with adequate facilities. They had enough food and other basic needs during the evacuation. It was opposite to what had happened to Nduga residents. They had to walk for days from their villages to Wamena and other regions.
“While there was a lack of access to food aid distribution for Nduga residents, it didn’t happen for Wamena refugees. They had planes to transport them, shelter and enough food,” he said.
Seeing what has been happening lately in Papua, the relevant stakeholders in Papua and the central government should immediately think a solution to end this current complicated situation. (*)
Reporter: Agus Pabika
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Five bodies discovered in Mbua, allegedly shot by military culprits
Jayapura, Jubi – Residents and activists from Pegunungan Tengah Human Rights Defender Networks (JapHAM) discovered five bodies on Thursday (10/20/2019) in Iniye Village, Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regency. The bodies are suspected of the shooting victims of military culprits and covered by grass and leaves before being buried in one hole.
Nduga youth leader Samuel Tabuni, who is also a relative of the victims, said the victims left Wamena on 20 September for picking food supplies by car. They went together with a group of young men. Some group members then separated for taking food to their villages. Meanwhile, the victims took their supplies to Gua Batu, Gunung Kanbobo because they lived far away and decided to stay in Iniye Village.
“The next day on 21 September, the five victims went to take the food they stored at Gua Batu. Another group followed them later, but while they were walking, they heard gunfire. They were scared and decided not to continue to their walk to Gua Batu. They walked back to Ineye and called me,” Samuel Tabuni told on Thursday (10/10/2019).
However, after the call, he wasn’t sure about what had happened in Ineye. So he asked the police for further investigation. But the police said there was no report of the shooting incident in Mbua.
“The victims are my relatives, so I must continue to find the truth. After twenty days, it finally reveals that allegedly military culprits have shotted these five people,” said Samuel Tabuni.
He said a resident who called him witnessed military personnel at around Gua Batu.
The five bodies later identified as Mrs Yuliana Dorggi (35), Mrs Jelince Bugi (25), Mrs Macen Kusumbrue (26), Tolop Bugi (13) and Hardius Bugi (15).
“Local people and JapHAM Pegunung Tengah led by Theo Hesegem discovered their bodies,” said Samuel Tabuni.
Meanwhile, Kodam (regional military command) XVII/Cenderawasih admitted to Jubi that they have not yet received any information regarding the shooting incident in Iniye Village.
“We have not received an official report from the local unit,” said Colonel Eko Daryanto, Kodam spokesperson, to Jubi via WhatsApp.
Since a military conflict occurred in Nduga in the early of December last year, 189 residents are reportedly dead because of starvation in a refugee camp or shot by the military and police. Following the incident, thousands of Nduga residents have fled, and 39 churches have vacated.
Currently, according to Samuel Tabuni, Nduga residents demand the government to withdraw the joint military and police troops from Nduga. Furthermore, Nduga urgently needs humanitarian aid to supply food, medicine and support from the international humanitarian organisation to conduct an independent investigation on human rights violations in Nduga.
Meanwhile, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe hope Nduga refugees are not treated differently with refugees from another conflict in Wamena.
“Nduga residents are also the Indonesian citizens who should be treated equally as other residents,” said Governor Enembe.
Further, he said the case of Nduga refugee is an extraordinary case related to a humanitarian issue.
Therefore, he said he already communicated with the regents of Jayawijaya and Lanny Jaya because most of Nduga refugees are currently staying in these two regencies. He asked the regents from both regencies to treat Nduga refugees well because they are also Papuan citizens who need the attention of the government. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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