Posts Tagged ‘West Papua’

The weekly program Just Asia, full of news

February 10, 2018

This week’s ‘television programme’ Just Asia (9 February 20018) covers a number of important issues:
Burma: the UN’s Human Rights Commissioner warning that the government’s persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority has the potential to spark regional conflict. “It is sometimes said that today’s human rights violations will become tomorrow’s conflicts.”  Also this week, the Associated Press confirmed at least five mass graves found in Rakhine, through multiple interviews and time-stamped cell phone videos. The graves are the newest piece of evidence suggesting genocide.
Indonesia: the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, ended 7 February. Among the Commissioner’s various meetings, two important ones were the civil society meeting hosted by Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the meeting with victims of human rights violations hosted by the National Commission on Human Rights. Local groups are hopeful that the high profile visit will significantly influence human rights development in Indonesia. Moreover, Mr. Zeid ended his visit with the announcement that his office would soon send a mission to West Papua to learn about the human rights situation there. (with an interview with Mr. Bedjo Untung, a Survivor of the 1965-1966 massacre)
The Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s political allies are proposing to amend the Constitution, to change the country’s presidential form of government to a federal one. While focusing on political changes, the current constitutional debate is silent on constitutional rights. Philippines’1987 Constitution includes the Bill of Rights and many provisions relating to social justice. These are the culmination of a people’s aspirations after suffering for years under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Any debate on constitutional change must therefore include discussion on the protection of constitutional rights.
Nepal, Plain clothes police arrested 14 year old Sandip Prasai on 1 February, and accused him of being a thief and a drug addict. Sandip was admitted to a hospital on February 4, where the doctors said there are no visible signs of injuries on his body, but he has suffered from panic attacks. Activists are calling on the government to investigate the incident and suitably punish the officers involved in beating a juvenile.
The bulletin can be watched online at www.alrc.asia/justasia and AHRC TV YouTube.
see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/21/just-asia-just-continues-with-its-human-rights-television/
https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/16/amila-sampath-the-man-behind-the-video-service-of-just-asia/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDPQ5KwOu0o&feature=youtu.be

Profile of Paul Mambrasar: defender of indigenous Papuans

December 28, 2015

OMCT, in its series “10 December – 10 Defenders”, carried the story of Paul Mambrasar from West Papua, the least populous province of Indonesia, where is torture used to crush and silence. Home to the world’s largest gold and third-largest copper mines, West Papua has abundant natural resources including timber and palm oil that make it a coveted region. This has generated continuing conflict and made it one of Asia’s sorest spots in terms of human rights violations. From the 1960s on, Indonesia has maintained heavy military presence, resorting to extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse to crack down on activists in an attempt to crush the Papuan independence movement, whether peaceful or violent, leaving locals deeply resentful and suspicious of the national Government.OMCT-LOGO

Indigenous Papuans marginalized in their homeland, suffer state violence and stigma, while their natural resources are exploited by others and compromise their ancestral way of living. The on-going conflict with separatists merely exacerbates discrimination against Papuans, who have been repressed by decades of institutional racism and Indonesian occupation. This is the vicious cycle of violence that Paul has to deal with in his daily fight for the respect of the human rights. “Torture worsens the distrust West Papuans have in the State which, by failing to uphold the rule of law, merely fuels more separatist sentiments,” sums up Paul, Secretary of the Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham), a non-governmental organization defending human rights in Wet Papua.

Paul’s challenging working environment is the result of decades of quasi-institutionalized abuses resulting in many layers of deep-felt and pervasive grievances of West Papuans against the Indonesian Government. He is, however, gradually managing to build networks in his country, also thanks to support from organizations such as OMCT, and gradually drawing attention to the regular violations committed.

Discrimination and marginalization of Papuan have therefore worsened the situation. Government policies have also contributed to the problem. The arrival of migrants, fostered by transmigration programmes, has upset the demographics and social and cultural heritage of the people of West Papua and exacerbated competition over land and resources. Compounded with the socially and environmentally destructive development projects pushed in the region by Indonesia, this has caused widespread social disruption and environmental damage, forcing Papuan tribal groups to relocate, according to researchers from Yale Law School cited by Elsham in a 2003 Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights session.

Unreported exactions keep occurring as foreign eyes and independent international observers are barred from West Papua. It is therefore only thanks to the work of local organizations and human rights defenders such as Paul, who runs Elsham’s office in West Papua and attends international advocacy meetings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva communicating regularly with donors, that the world can know what is happening there.

“Impunity has allowed the security force, the police and the army, free access to inflict fear and terror through torture and other physical abuses,” Paul explains his motivation. “In order for torture to end the Indonesia State must take a strong action to punish those involved in its practice.”

Despite these odds and the many challenges of his job including being under Indonesian intelligence surveillance as an “independence sympathizer”, Paul, 51, trusts that the human rights conditions in West Papua will improve.

[When the Dutch Government granted independence to Indonesia in 1949, Papua was not part of it. At the end of the Dutch colonial rule, Papua was first administered, and then absorbed, by Indonesia in 1969, following a sham “referendum” requested by the United Nations. This so‑called “Act of Free Choice” was in fact a vote by just over a thousand selected Papuans (out of a population of 800,000 at the time) who had been pressured to agree to integration within Indonesia. This vote has been the bone of contention between Papuans and the Republic of Indonesian. Papuans have ever since agitated for independence, and have been conducting a still ongoing, low-level guerrilla warfare against Indonesian forces, in turn engaged in bloody repression and unpunished human rights violations. Papuans – who are Melanesian and whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago – do not identify culturally with the Asians. They see their Papuan identity and indigenous culture based on customary subsistence-based agriculture threatened by the arrival of migrants who, in turn, see the traditional Papuan way of life as backward.]

In this context see also the CNN report on the closure of NGO offices: http://freewestpapua.org/2015/12/13/indonesian-government-forces-all-ngos-to-leave-west-papua/

— by Lori Brumat in Geneva

Source: Indonesia: Meet Paul: Restoring the human rights of indigenous Papuans amid on-going conflict / December 10, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

Papua: human rights defender Gustaf Kawer at risk of arrest

September 19, 2014

Several NGOs (i.a. Front Line and Asian Human Rights Commission) have expressed concern about the human rights defender Gustaf Kawer in Papua, Indonesia.

On 17 September 2014 a plain-clothed police officer visited the home of Mr Gustaf Kawer to deliver a summons in relation to his actions during a court hearing on 12 June 2014. This is the third summons he received since 19 August 2014. Allegedly, the human rights defender threatened and insulted a judge and was therefore subject to an investigation for “crimes against public authority”. As Gustaf Kawer was absent from his home, his wife refused to accept the summons, insisting that it should not be delivered to her.

[Gustaf Kawer received the first summons to appear before the police, to give a testimony, on 19 August 2014. However, according to an agreement between the Indonesian National Police and the Indonesian Bar Association (PERADI) on “Investigatory Procedures for Carrying Out The Profession As Advocate“, any summons issued to lawyers in relation to their work should be directed to PERADI. Since the summons on 19 August had been sent to Gustaf Kawer directly, he declined to appear. On 25 August 2014, a police investigator submitted a second summons to PERADI requesting that Gustaf Kawer appear before the Papua Regional Police headquarters for interrogation on 1 September 2014. The human rights lawyer had to leave his house for a while due to the risk of possible arrest. If prosecuted and found guilty, he could face up to 4 years in prison.]

This is not the first time that Gustaf Kawer has been targeted in connection to his work but after international campaign of solidarity and support, the authorities dropped the case against him (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/27159).

 

Two national level human rights awards (Uganda and West Papua)

July 4, 2014

Although I try to be as complete as possible on international human rights awards (see http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/), there is a plethora of interesting awards at the national level of which follow here two examples: 

1. Uganda: The annual “European Union Human Rights Defenders Award” is given by the EU Member States, Norway and the EU Delegation in Uganda to recognise the achievements of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda. In 2014 the award (which could be named more clearly) is shared among:

  • Ms. Gladys Canogura, Executive Director of Kitgum Women Peace Initiative.
  • Ms. Christine AlaloC, Head Uganda Police Child and Family Protection Unit.
  • Mr. Mohammed Ndifuna, Chief Executive Officer Human Rights Network Uganda.

Dr. Simone Knapp, Head of the Austrian Development Cooperation in Uganda and host of the 2014 Ceremony stated the following: “Human rights defenders and civil society organisations are indispensable partners for governments, the European Union and equally the United Nations in highlighting violations of human rights and analysing their causes. The internet and social media tools have enabled sharing of information and concerns even more effectively. They are the ones that work in the field every day and experience first-hand what the great challenges are to the realisation of all human rights. At the same time, human rights defenders, the same as journalists, face increasing harassment, inhibition and even violence as a consequence of their commitment to human rights. We must better protect human rights defenders and promote their work. Civil Society can help us develop policies and instruments for tackling these challenges.”  

http://www.norway.go.ug/News_and_events/pressrelease/Winners-of-the-2014-EU-Human-Rights-Defenders-Award/#.U7b5tyjKzZQ

2. West Papua: Two New Zealanders have been awarded the 2014 John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award for their work pushing for improved human rights in Indonesia’s Papua region. The West Papua Advocacy Team says the Green Party’s Catherine Delahunty has challenged the New Zealand governments community policing project in Papua and sought to provide a platform for Papuan rights advocates in the New Zealand Parliament. The Advocacy Team says the second recipient, activist Maire Leadbeater, has worked tirelessly to inform New Zealand about the human rights crisis in West Papua. Ms Delahunty says she is honoured to be considered.”There are many people working all around the world and the Pacific to support the campaign for human rights and independence in West Papua. Im one of the small players, have got the privilege of working in Parliament with the Green Party fully supporting my work. So yes, it’s an incredible honour, I was most surprised to receive it and very, very humbled.” John Rumbiak had worked in Papua for many years, raising concerns on human rights issues.

via NZers win West Papua advocacy award | Radio New Zealand News.

WCC consultation urges protection of human rights in Papua, Indonesia

October 16, 2013

On 16 October Scoop News reports on a consultation, held on 25 September 2013 in Geneva, entitled Isolating Papua which highlighted the increasing practice of limiting access to the Papuan provinces of Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »