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Indonesia must act quickly on Papua violations report, says Amnesty

Indonesian forces in Jayapura

Indonesian troops prepare for last month's deadly crackdown against Papuans taking part in the Third Papuan People's Congress. Photo: West Papua Media

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Centre news desk

Amnesty International has called on the Indonesian government to act immediately on the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) findings that human rights violations were committed by security forces in breaking up the Third Papuan Peoples’ Congress last month.

The Komnas HAM investigation team found a range of human rights violations allegedly committed by the Indonesian security forces on October 19 – including opening fire on participants of the peaceful gathering and beating and kicking them.

Amnesty International’s statement came as a regional media lobby group called on Pacific journalists to “pay more attention” to the human rights tragedy unfolding on Papua New Guinea’s borders in Indonesia’s mineral-rich territory of West Papua.

Pacific Media Freedom Forum’s statement followed a scathing media freedom report condemning violence against West Papua journalists in Pacific Journalism Review published by the Pacific Media Centre last month.

The Amnesty International statement said: “If the investigations find that the security forces committed unlawful killings or torture or other ill-treatment, then those responsible, including persons with command responsibility must be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness, and victims provided with reparations.

“The failure to bring perpetrators of these violations to justice in fair trials will reinforce the perception that the security forces in Papua operate above the law and fuel the ongoing climate of mistrust towards the security forces there.”

On the afternoon of October 19, police and military units violently dispersed participants at the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering held in Abepura, on the outskirts of Jayapura in Papua province.

Bodies found
The bodies of Demianus Daniel, Yakobus Samonsabara, and Max Asa Yeuw were found near the congress area.

An estimated 300 participants were arbitrarily arrested at the end of the Congress. Most were released the following day but six have been charged.

Five people were charged for “rebellion” and “incitement” under Articles 106, 110 and 160 of the Criminal Code, while one was charged for “possession of weapons” under Emergency Law No. 12/1951.

According to Komnas HAM, the three people who were found dead had gunshot wounds on their bodies. The commission was not able to confirm whether they were killed by the police or military, and have called for police forensic investigators to examine the bullets. Komnas HAM also found that at least 96 participants had been shot, kicked or beaten by police officers.

Komnas HAM further reported that security forces had raided a Catholic monastery and seminary. They shot at the building and broke the windows when the monks refused to hand over alleged separatists to the police.

“Many Papuans are now afraid to leave their homes because of the continued security checks and raids,” Amnesty International said.

The commission also raised concerns that security forces had confiscated mobile phones, laptop computers, printers, cameras, cars, motorcycles and millions of rupiah in cash, and called for these items to be returned to the owners.

Many recommendations
The commission stated, contrary to claims by the Indonesian authorities that the Papuan congress was illegal, that the Indonesian Minister of Law, Politics and Security had in fact directed the Director-General of Regional Autonomy at the Home Affairs Ministry to attend the congress and give the opening speech.

The commission made a series of recommendations including calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to accelerate the dialogue with the Papuan people and to evaluate the deployment of a large security presence in the area.

The Komnas HAM investigation indicates that security forces appear to have violated the rights to life and to freedom from torture and other ill-treatment, both of which are non-derogable under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party.

By using unnecessary and excessive force and firearms against the participants, the Indonesian security forces have also violated the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Indonesia has also ratified. Moreover, the right of all people in Indonesia to be free from torture and other ill-treatment is guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution and the 1999 Law on Human Rights.

The actions of the security forces also appear to contravene the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials which provide, among other things, that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed, and should be designed to minimise damage or injury.

From Rarotonga, the Pacific Freedom Forum said both the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Forum leaders meetings this year revealed a silence from Pacific leaders on this issue, despite strong civil society lobbying, and despite Indonesia being an observer to the MSG because of West Papua.

“With the killings and human rights abuses reported in recent weeks and the continued threats to journalists there, more Pacific journalists outside of West Papua should pressure their leaders to start explaining why a pocket of indigenous Melanesians are unable to freely speak, share and gather in peaceful protest, in their own land,” said PFF chair Titi Gabi, of Papua New Guinea.

Last month, Pacific Journalism Review reported on the media “black spot”  in West Papua and this was reported by New Matilda and other independent media.

More West Papua stories

Papuan Congress

An image of Indonesian police at the Third Papuan People's Congress ... still from new footage of repression. Photo: West Papua Media Alerts

Link to more Papuan congress video footage