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Home » , , , , , , , » Indonesia’s Human Rights Record in West Papua

Indonesia’s Human Rights Record in West Papua

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on November 16, 2012 | 8:06 PM

Papuan People
FI Hot on the heels of the 21st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) and the 14th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Franciscans International (FI) hosted human rights defenders from West Papua, Indonesia, in Geneva on November 8th. As part of its Asia-Pacific Advocacy Programme, FI convened a roundtable discussion which brought together representatives from the Permanent Missions to the UN of the Netherlands and Germany, as well as from the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, OMCT (World Organization against Torture), and Edmund Rice International.     

The participants discussed the current human rights situation in the Papua provinces. The issue of Indonesia’s closed-door policy was raised as the international community, including foreign journalists and politicians, continue to be denied access to West Papua. Consistent with the HRC’s panel discussions on intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders, participants spoke of enforced disappearances carried out by the Indonesian military, plaguing the region’s civil society organizations. 

Many concluded that while the Indonesian government has blamed West Papuans for the recent deaths of two journalists from Germany and Australia visiting the region, these events appear to have been used as a ploy to criminalize human rights defenders, labeling them as “terrorists”, and for using excessive force against them.

As the discussion unfolded, many stressed the importance of constructive dialogue with the Indonesian government, military and various other stakeholders, although they were doubtful as to whether this has been achieved yet.

Despite the fact that Indonesia accepted several recommendations relevant to West Papua during its second UPR in May 2012, the human rights defenders indicated that the State has not undertaken concrete action to implement them or to initiate a dialogue with West Papuans. Participants spoke of the dubious trust that has been established between the parties involved, after nearly fifty years of Indonesian rule in West Papua from 1963 to 2012. 

Mention was made of ceasing foreign aid to Indonesia as this has previously been used for military purposes. Alternatively, a constructive way of engaging the Indonesian government on the issue of West Papua was suggested by participants, who hoped to challenge the country’s role as mediator on the international level if it remains unable to achieve a peaceful solution through dialogue with its own people.

The roundtable discussion continued by focusing on strategies for monitoring the implementation of UPR recommendations and related challenges. Participants argued that travel restrictions to West Papua enforced by the Indonesian government would, however, impede the monitoring of the region’s human rights record. 

A participant also noted that a recent trend has been to deny access to NGOs with projects in West Papua, including Peace Brigades International and CORDAID, the Dutch Catholic overseas development agency. Nevertheless, participants remained optimistic, and the human rights defenders concluded by praying for “Indonesia to open its heart” to dialogue and peace in West Papua. 
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