G20: Jakarta disperses peaceful human rights protests in Papua
Amnesty International called on world leaders meeting in Bali today and tomorrow to press for human rights to be respected in Indonesia. In recent days the UN Human Rights Council has been collecting reports from the government and civil society. Violence against civilians has increased in the last two years.
Jayapura (AsiaNews) - The G20 leaders, engaged in the Bali summit today and tomorrow, "must ask the Indonesian government to fulfil its obligations to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association". This was the statement issued today by Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, after law enforcement forces broke up peaceful protests to draw international attention to the conflict in Papua province and Jakarta's failure to respect human rights.
Human rights activist Veronica Koman denounced on Twitter the arrest of at least 18 protesters in Jayapura calling for intervention by the UN Human Rights Council.
On 9 November, the 41st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a periodic review programme on the state of human rights in all 193 UN member states, was held in Geneva. The activists challenged the statements made by the Indonesian government representative, Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, which they considered "contrary to the real situation, also reported by Indonesian civil society through an alternative report".
Regarding the situation in Papua, explained Nurina Savitri, Amnesty's local campaigns manager, 'the government has only reported the situation from the point of view of infrastructure development and welfare, although violence continues'.
The island of New Guinea is divided into three: the easternmost part is Papua New Guinea, an independent state; the centre is occupied by the large province of Papua, while the westernmost cape forms West Papua. The latter two regions belong to Indonesia, but since the 1960s there has been an ongoing conflict against the Indonesian government to which the armed liberation movements have demanded the creation of an independent Greater Papua.
The referendum by which Indonesia annexed the resource-rich territory in 1962 was immediately considered a farce, and in 1965 various militias united under the umbrella of the Free Papua Movement (Fpm). Yesterday at least seven Papuan students were arrested for waving the blue and white striped flag with the star on a red field of the Fpm.
Already in March this year the UN had denounced abuses against indigenous Papuans by the government, which included extrajudicial disappearances and killings, even of minors. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled), a conflict monitoring programme, there was an 80% increase in violence during 2021 compared to 2020. Moreover, since 2018, armed clashes have spread outside the traditional geographical area in which the West Papua National Liberation Army (Tpnpb), the main armed group in the region, operates.
In the past two years, direct violence against Papuan civilians by both state forces and Tpnpb militiamen has also increased, while Indonesian law enforcement has dispersed or suppressed peaceful protests involving Papuans more frequently than those in which they were not involved.