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Distrust hinders hopes for West Papua peace, activist says

Latifah Anum Siregar ... Indonesian government focuses on corporate development, rather than people. Image: WANMEC

Latifah Anum Siregar … Indonesian government focuses on corporate development, rather than people. Image: WANMEC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By
Ryan Dagur in Jakarta

A lack of trust between the Indonesian government and the people of Papua has jeopardised hopes for a lasting peace in the restive province, according to a prominent human rights activist.

Persistent human rights abuses, a crackdown by the government on civil liberties and a focus on corporate development, rather than on the people, has left citizens feeling disenfranchised and distrustful, Latifah Anum Siregar said.

“We ask for open space for democracy, freedom of expression, and dialogue as promised by President Joko Widodo several times,” Siregar told ucanews.com during a two-day “Torture and Violence in Asia” workshop held in Jakarta.

Siregar, a human rights lawyer and the chairwoman of the Alliance for Democracy in Papua, received the South Korean Gwangju Human Rights award in May for her role in promoting peace in Papua.

She said government efforts for progress in Papua would always be met by resistance because Papuans were not involved in policy making.

“Many of the government policies to encourage progress in Papua don’t work because they never involve the Papuan people,” she said.

Indonesia has maintained a heavy military presence in Papua, where a low-level insurgency against the central government has simmered for decades.

Accusations of killings
The military has been accused of resorting to extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse to defeat rebel forces.

A crackdown on activists in an attempt to crush the Papuan independence movement, has left local people deeply resentful and suspicious of the national government.

Siregar noted that the government has taken some positive steps this year, such as freeing political prisoners, including pro-independence activist Filep Karma.

“But, it’s useless if freedom of expression remains prohibited. People will be arrested again,” she said.

Siregar urged the government to change its approach to Papua from a pro-investment to a pro-people strategy.

Poengky Indarti, executive director of the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, or Impartial, said that the government should stop using torture and violence in Papua.

“We witnessed many cases in which security officers in dealing with the Papuans failed to uphold their rights,” Indarti said.

Instead, Indonesia should take persuasive steps in holding accountable human rights abusers, she said.

“Conflict in Papua has lasted for 50 years now. However, we have not seen any efforts that can really solve the problem,” she said.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9525

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Johnson, 17. December 2015, 13:26

    There is no lack of trust, there is complete trust that Indonesia is looting and killing people; complete trust that any dialogue by Jakarta is an attempt to delay New Zealand and other UN members being called on to fulfill our obligations under UN Charter article 76.
    Our nations were tricked in 1962 when America and the replacement Secretary General asked us to approve the ‘New York Agreement’. The agreement says it has been written for the “welfare of the people of the territory of West New Guinea”, in other words it is creating a trust for benefit of the people of West Papua; that is WHY our governments agreed to send troops to occupy West Papua in 1962 and is the reason the UN is meant to be jointly fulfilling its article 76 obligations of helping West Papua towards independence..
    What West Papua needs is a nation of good conscience, a honest UN member willing to tell the UN Trusteeship Council about our General Assembly resolution 1752 so that the Council can then begin its work of making yearly reports about West Papua under UN Charter article 85 part 2. 87, and 88.