Article – Selpius Bobii – Front Pepera Papua Barat
The 15 September 2013 was the International Day of Democracy, a day marked around the world and celebrated in a variety of ways. In the land of Papua on 16 September 2013 demonstrations were also held in a number of regions to mark this special date …
International Day of Democracy – Papua Silenced Once Again
By Selpius Bobii
20 September 2013
The 15 September 2013 was the International Day of Democracy, a day marked around the world and celebrated in a variety of ways. In the land of Papua on 16 September 2013 demonstrations were also held in a number of regions to mark this special date which fell the day before that. The demonstrations were coordinated by the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB). However sadly these peaceful actions were silenced by the police in every location held, with peaceful demonstrators being forced to disperse and arbitrary arrests made. In the regional capital of Jayapura the forced dispersal and arrests of demonstrators were carried out by Indonesian joint forces of military (TNI) and police. The number of demonstrators arrested throughout Papua according to data published by the Asian Commission for Human Rights was 71 persons (www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-123-2013#.UjtniM20rAk.facebook).
The Tabloid Jubi reported (17/09/2013/) that peaceful demonstrations were held in eight kabupaten (regencies) and cities in Papua, despite actions having been banned by police authorities at each of those locations. The actions in addition to marking the International Day of Democracy were to show support to the Vanuatu Government regarding their efforts to see the issue of West Papua taken to this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations (U.N); and furthermore as a symbolic action to encourage Papua’s fellow nations including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, PNG and New Caledonia (Kanaky) to carry out the follow-up required from the decision of the 19th Summit of the MSG on 21 June 2013 in Noumea (points 20/21 regarding West Papua). The Tabloid Jubi stated that around 100 people were arrested by the joint TNI / Police forces across Papua ( www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/09/17/aksi-knpb-di-delapan-kota-hampir-seratus-orang-ditahan-dan-diperiksa/).
However according to Wim Mendlema spokesperson of the Central Secretariat of the KNPB which organised the demonstrations, the total arrested was much higher in fact with figures totalling 249 arrested across Papua. Philipus Halitopo, a police officer who also happens to be the Head of a very large tribe in the Central Highlands of Papua, stated that it was only intended in arresting the demonstrators to require they provide an explanation of their actions and not to detain them( www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/09/16/halitopo-mereka-hanya-dimintai-keterangan/#).
The KNPB Chairperson Victor Yeimo stated that all persons who were arrested and detained that date by the joint armed forces – both members of the wider Papuan community and members the KNPB – had been released after giving their explanations and being interrogated by local police. A member of the Peoples Representative Council of Papua (MRP) Yakobus Dumapa stated that the arbitrary arrest of Papuan activists that date was a serious deviation from the law (No 9, 1998) concerning expressing opinions in public. Dumapa stated that the arrest, killing and imprisonment of indigenous Papuans would never silence the Papuan Freedom ideology and that he had urged the State of Indonesia to enter into
dialogue between Jakarta and Papua in order to find solution(www.majalahselangkah.com/content/dumupa-penangkapan-aktivis-papua-menyimpang-dari-uu-no-9-tahun-1998).
A comparison of the handling of demonstrations by the police in Papua to that in other parts of Indonesia reveals an extreme variance. In Papua for instance, organisers must lodge a letter of notice to the local police three days before the holding of a demonstration. Whereas in other parts of Indonesia demonstration organisers are able to lodge the advice any time up to the morning of the day of the demonstration. In Papua for an organisation to even be able to organise a demonstration requires they be registered with the National Unity and Politics Agency (Kesbangpol). If not the local police won’t publish what is called a Notice Indicating Receipt of Advice of the Intention (STTP). Whereas in other parts of Indonesia police give space to the community to convey their opinions publically without them needing to be registered with Kesbangpol. These are but examples and there are many other specific differences between Papua and other parts of Indonesia in this regard. Differences which have no rational basis and yet which have been applied by the police in Papua until this time.
In Papua the local police demand that local police conditions in regards to holding of a demonstration be fulfilled in every minor detail by the organisers and if even a minor detail does not meet their demands a demonstration can be forcefully dismissed by police and even result in arrests of demonstrators. The reason that is always given by the local police for forceful dismissal of demonstrations in Papua is that there was no permission given by the police. However in fact in accordance with the Indonesian Law on the expression of opinion in public (Regulation No 9, 1998), the police’s role is only to provide a Notice Indicating Receipt of Advice of Intention (STTP). That it is not the right or responsibility of the police to give permission to hold a demonstration. That law obligates the body organising the demonstration to give written advice of their planned demonstration to the local police and for that to be signed by whoever is to take ultimate responsibility for the demonstration. Then the local police are obligated to publish an STTP advising the public that they have been notified of that intended action. The demonstration organiser then has the responsibility to ensure conditions of the demonstration that are in effect are adhered to.
The local police in Papua and particularly in Jayapura, force the organisers to comply with many rules that are outside the Indonesian legislation applying to such actions. Clearly with the intention of bamboozling Papuans with all the many details required to be fulfilled and in so doing aiming to silence the democratic space in the land of Papua.
In other parts of Indonesia such as Java, demonstration organisers can easily organise holding of an action without risk of forced dismissal and their voices being silenced. In fact even without the police issuing a Public a Notice Indicating Receipt of Advice of Intention (STTP) organisers can still go ahead with their demonstrations in Java with security provided by the local police. Compared to Papua where it is extremely difficult to have the police agree to even issue that public notice let alone allow a demonstration to be held without that public notice having been issued.
In other parts of Indonesia demonstrations are allowed to go ahead regardless of the theme or agenda for the demonstration and they always allowed to proceed safely and without local police prohibiting this and that. Whereas in Papua and especially in Jayapura, demonstrations that are in any way seen to be related to the indigenous Papuan community’s aspirations for independence are given no room whatsoever by the Indonesian armed forces. In recent times under the leadership of the Head of the Papuan Provincial Police, Tito Karniavan (ex Commander of the central anti-terrorist unit Densus 88), the space for democracy has been completely closed down in Papua and peaceful demonstrations that have as their wider agenda Papuan Freedom aspirations are given strictly no room to occur whatsoever. Why the difference? In short because it would appear that the Indonesian Government has actually without making it public, covertly applied a state of civil and military emergency in Papua.
Although the Indonesian State supposedly observes liberal democracy, the reality in the field is that the armed forces give no opportunity whatsoever to Papuans to convey their political aspirations in public. Indeed this reality is a shameful disgrace to Indonesia. Although Indonesia is the world’s third biggest democracy after USA and India, the Indonesian State is still practicing the style of democracy that began under President Suharto and particularly in the land of Papua. The Republic of Indonesia has not yet become a ‘mature’ democracy and accordingly still needs to learn a lot from observing the democratic practices of the USA.
As a permanent member of the United Nations (UN), the State of Indonesia is in fact obliged to abide by international laws including international covenants that have been ratified by the Government of Indonesia.
The obstruction of the democratic space in Papua has been highlighted by the International community and even the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a number of recommendations in that regard in its Universal Periodic Review in 2012. Two of those recommendations in particular were that the State of Indonesia give space for the freedom of expression by civilians in Papua; and that Indonesia allow access for human rights workers and international journalists to visit Papua.
At the 2012 session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Indonesian Government invited a Special UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression to visit Indonesia in January 2013. However Indonesia failed to enable that visit of the UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue to go ahead and in particular the previously agreed visits to Papua and Maluku. At the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council held in June 2013 in Geneva questions were asked regarding the delayed realisation of that recommendation and on 3 June 2013 the Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue requested certainty of a date for the agreed official visit to Indonesia (www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/06/08/pelapor-khusus-pbb-minta-kepastian-kunjungan-ke-indonesia-juga-papua/).
The forced silencing of expression and opinion in Indonesia and particularly in Papua and Maluku has become the focus of the international community and Indonesia cannot avoid that focus. As the third largest democracy in the world Indonesia must search its soul and implement the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other International Covenants that have already been ratified by Indonesia.
1). The Indonesian State as a member of the UN is obligated to protect and respect human rights including giving recognition to the political rights of the indigenous people of western half of the nation of Papua acknowledging that as a fully sovereign nation.
2).Indonesia needs to immediately allow freedom of opinion and expression in public and in particular in Papua.
3) Indonesia must allow access to human rights workers and international journalists to visit Papua and allow access by the UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue to visit Papua and Maluku.
4).Indonesia must stop the constant intimidation, terrorising, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and humanitarian evils it has been committing in the land of Papua.
5). The UN and in particular the UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council, are urged to place severe sanctions on the State of Indonesia for all human rights violations being committed by Indonesia in Papua and to carry out a humanitarian and security intervention in Papua.
6). The international community in solidarity is encouraged to continue their efforts to save the community of the nation of Papua in the state of West Papua from marginalisation, discrimination, being made a minority and ethnic genocide.
‘Humans that value life of course also protect and respect the life of fellow beings’.