11/27/2020, 13.47
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NGOs and activists call for a stop to military operations against Papua rebels

by Mathias Hariyadi

SOS Papua and 20 other organisations appeal to President Widodo. Military and police operations against rebel groups have displaced tens of thousands of people, Catholics included. The constitution and the rights of the local populations must be respected. Ending hostilities is a priority.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – SOS Papua has issued a statement signed by 20 NGOs and humanitarian associations appealing to Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for an end to “security operations" by the Indonesian military and police in Papua province.

The appeal, which was sent yesterday to the president, calls for protection for the displaced and their trampled rights, as laid out in the constitution and international conventions signed by Indonesia.

Attention is centred on four Papua regencies (districts) – Nduga, Puncak Jaya, Intan Jaya and Mimika – in Indonesia’s easternmost province, where the Indonesian government has launched an offensive against armed groups and separatist movements, displacing tens of thousands of people in the civilian population.

"From the end of 2018 to 2020, particularly in the interior of Papua, in Nduga Regency, Intan Jaya Regency, Mimika Regency and Puncak Jaya Regency, the deployment of both military and police (TNI-Polri) personnel has continued and has resulted in armed conflict between the TNI-Polri and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB[*]),” the SOS Papua statement read.

The massive deployment of troops, activists warn, has never been accompanied by a presidential decree approved by Parliament, as required by the law on the use of force.

Military operations against Papua nationalists has fuelled tensions and violence. More than 40,000 people have been displaced in the various regencies, 37,000 in Nduga regency alone.

Scores of innocent people, including local Catholics, have died, caught in the crossfire. For this reason, SOS Papua want "an immediate stop to military operations" as well as an end to the use of force.

The rights of the population must be respected. The president must pull back the military and law enforcement from Nduga, Intan Jaya, Mimika, and Puncak Jaya, the regencies most affected by the violence.

Once hostilities have ceased, the priority should be the creation of a team of experts to visit the area, bring aid to the population, and investigate human rights violations, including possible cases of torture, enslavement and violations of religious freedom.

[*] Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat.

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