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‘Appalling’ Papuan human rights record has worsened in past decade, says advocate

Yan Christian Warinussy

West Papuan human rights advocate Yan Christian Warinussy with the 2005 John Humphrey Freedom Award. Image: World Citizenship

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Yan Christian Warinussy

The rights to freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the Land of Papua have worsened in the past 10 years as a result of the repressive situation caused by the government of the Republic of Indonesia, both systematically and well as structurally.

This is the result of the repressive activities of the security  forces, the Polri (police) and the TNI (army).

This is what happened  when the security forces attacked people after the closing session of the Third Papuan People’s Congress  in October 2011 in Jayapura as well as the attacks by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators on 6 June 1998 near the Water Tower in Biak.

As for structural violations, the Indonesian government has made use of a number of regulations by force to prevent ordinary people from publicly expressing their opinions regarding the political situation and the injustices experienced by Papuans as a result of the developmental activities that are now occurring.

For example, the government used articles 106,108 and 110 of the law on procedural matters, that is to say the Penal Code, to punish  every action undertaken peacefully by Papuans to draw attention to the lack of social justice being experienced by Papuan civilians.

Take for instance, the Aimas case on 30 April 2013 when Isak Kalaibin  and six colleagues  were charged with treason in Sorong as a result of which Apotos Sewa and a number of his colleagues were subjected to questioning non-stop for twelve hours  without being accompanied by lawyers. and they were then ordered  to report themselves regularly to the authorities.

There was also the case of the abuse by two women police  officers of three women of the Mbaham Mata Tribe on 15 August 2013.

Lack of freedom
All these cases are evidence  of the lack of freedom of expression which is being experienced structurally and systematically by Papuan people.

All this has been happening as the result of lack of information everywhere about the situation in Papua.

As a senior lawyer and defender of human rights in the Land of Papua, I call on the Indonesian government to recognise that the human rights situation in Papua is quite appalling.

And the longer this situation continues, political awareness  will grow within the community as well as an awareness across the world that the Indonesian government should respect  the rule of law and democracy – the basic rights that are universally recognised.

Yan Christian Warinussy, executive director of the human rights organisation LP3BH. Translated by Carmel Budiardjo of Tapol.