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2003 | 59th Regular Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (17 March - 25 April 2003)

The situation of human rights in West Papua, Indonesia


Franciscans International, a non-governmental organization in General Consultative
Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), together with other
NGOs in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC, including Catholic Institute
for International Relations, Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in
Germany, Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Forum Asia, Pax Christi International,
Pax Romana, and the World Council of Churches, in cooperation with the Central
Missionary Board Netherlands, Cordaid, Geneva for Human Rights, ICCO,
Justitia et Pax Netherlands, Kerkinactie, Office for Justice and Peace Jayapura,
Office for Justice and Peace Merauke, Office for Justice and Peace Sorong, and
United Evangelical Mission submit this written communication to the Commission
on Human Rights with regard to the human rights situation – in the areas of
both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights – in the
Province of Papua, Indonesia. The content refers in particular to the last 12 months
(January 2004-January 2005).

Civil and political rights

We acknowledge the progress made by the government in facilitating the Papuan
people’s right to participate in government and in free elections. Three consecutive
elections, one round of parliamentary and two rounds of presidential elections
have been successfully held in free, fair and secure conditions.

We acknowledge also the fact that more Papuans have become legislators both at
the district and provincial levels. Nonetheless, we noted in Mimika, Jayawijaya,
Manokwari and Nabire, the tendency on the part of some candidates and political
parties to use any means at their disposal to push the Regional Election
Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum Daerah/KPUD) to secure their seats in the
district parliaments. Their lack of success does not exonerate their behaviour. This
situation has not only led to continuing political conflict in several districts but
has also prevented the district and provincial parliaments serving the people’s

In other areas, we are deeply concerned at reports from our partners of the ongoing
practice of torture, arbitrary arrest and detention and displacement reportedly
committed by the security apparatus in spite of the adoption by Indonesia
during the 60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights of Resolutions
nos 39, 41, 55. The cases of extra-judicial killings reported in the villages of
Mariedi, Bintuni District where BP Tangguh Gas project is located, and in Mulia,
District of Puncak Jaya, also cause us deep concern. In Mariedi, five people were
shot dead by the police and two were injured and charged with treason and membership
of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). These people were in fact asking
for fair compensation for their land rights from the Djayanti timber company. In
Mulia, the situation remains unclear following the killing of a local priest, Elisa
Tabuni, by the security forces that caused displacement, fear and terror. The religious
leaders have repeatedly urged the Provincial Parliament (DPRD) to request
the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) to
conduct a thorough investigation but to date, no action has been taken.

Puncak Jaya exemplifies the gravity of the general situation. We must also emphasize
that the human rights situation in Western Wamena has not improved since
the large-scale military operation conducted two years ago.

In the last twelve months, the stigma of separatism is regularly imposed on individuals
or institutions that the security forces consider to be suspicious. The judicial
system has proved its inability to convene fair trials owing to the pervasive
influence of the security apparatus. This was illustrated by the trials of the suspects
of the Wamena case and the Bolakme case where the court tried and sentenced
the suspects to the fullest extent possible, despite weak evidence and irregularities
during the trial.

Human rights defenders in Papua are also under threat. The Institute for Human
Rights and Advocacy (ELSHAM), Aliansi Demokrasi Papua (ALDP), Triton
Foundation and the Office for Justice and Peace Sorong are among those who have
been criminalized or arbitrarily arrested and detained due to their work to protect
and promote human rights in different parts of Papua.

From the many reported human rights cases, to date it is only the Abepura case
of 2000 which has been brought to the Permanent Human Rights Court in
Makassar, having been pending for more than three years in the Attorney General’s
office. Whilst this is progress, it should be noted that the Attorney General
brought only two suspects to trial, whereas Komnas Ham had listed 25 suspects
in its investigation. Moreover, during the legal proceedings, the panel of judges
dismissed the victims’ claim for compensation arguing that such a claim is not
regulated by Law 26/2000 of the Human Rights Court. Therefore, despite
Indonesian support to CHR Resolution 2004/33, we are worried that this court
runs the risk of perpetuating what appears to be an unbreakable cycle of impunity
in Indonesia. We base our concerns upon the fact that ad hoc human rights tribunals
(Tanjung Priok and Timor Leste) eventually acquitted the key perpetrators.
Without strong political will on the part of the new government, the dossiers
of Wasior (13 June, 2001) and Wamena (4 April, 2003), the result of the Komnas
Ham investigation which has been submitted to the Attorney General for prosecution,
seem likely to meet a similar fate.

Economic, social and cultural rights

While we acknowledge the progress made by the new democratically-elected government
in establishing the branch office of Komnas Ham in Papua on 10 January
2005 and the Majelis Rakyat Papua, in fulfillment of the provisions of the Special
Autonomy Law for Papua (Government Regulation 54/2004), the following needs
also to be borne in mind.

Despite the Constitutional Court Decision No. 018/PUU-I/2003 of 11 November,
2004, the conflict of the division of the province continues to exist since the Court
annulled the legal basis of Western Irian Jaya but at the same time recognized
the existence of this particular province along with the Province of Papua. This
confusion around the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law remains unresolved
since the government regulation 54/2004 on the Papuan People’s Council
(Majelis Rakyat Papua/MRP) stipulates that the MRP, the provincial government
and the provincial parliament have to solve the problem in conjunction with the
central government. It does not appear that the central government wants to deal
with the problem.

In spite of the existence of the Special Autonomy Law, Papua remains ranked the
second lowest in the Indonesian Human Development Index of 2004. This is
despite its Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) being ranked the third
highest in Indonesia based upon income from the trading of our rich natural
resources. This situation is no different to the one Papua faced in 1999 prior to
the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law. Among 26 districts and two
municipalities in Papua, Jayawijaya ranks the lowest of all in terms of HDI index
in Papua as well as in the whole of Indonesia. Our partners report that the public
service sector in Jayawijaya is collapsing: specialist doctors have left the city;
public servants, teachers, and local parliamentarians have been on strike in protest
at unpaid wages; and even the business community held a protest to draw attention
to the unpaid debt of the district government. In spite of mass protests in
Wamena calling for justice and appropriate action to remedy the declining situation,
the government’s neglect has persisted.

Given the low rank of HDI, the 2004 UNDP report clearly identifies that available
income is not adequately invested in public services. Our partners are asking
for explanations for this severe neglect. The government admits that corruption is
a major problem in Indonesia and it is part of the new government’s commitment
to combat corruption. However, action undertaken to investigate such allegations
(for example, corruption at the provincial level of Papua, in the Provincial Parliament
of Papua and in the District office of Jayawijaya) is slow in coming.

In relation to the revenues generated from natural resources, we note that the rights
of indigenous peoples to benefit from the income secured are often violated. Conflict
between the indigenous peoples and the business sector is perpetuated by the nonexistence
of a legal framework to protect the indigenous people’s entitlements. In
practice, while the business sector appeals to state law, the indigenous peoples rely
on customary law. This mismatch frequently leads to human rights violations.
Examples are cases in Mariedi-Bintuni (2004) and Assue-Mappi (2004).
It is also common that the business development of these regions leads to the
encouragement of prostitution and growing cases of trafficking in human beings,
especially women and children. This in turn feeds the rapid spread of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic in Papua. A related social problem is the growth of alcoholism that in
turn significantly impacts on the number of cases of violence against women and
children, as well as declining standards of health in general. This situation remains
neglected by the government.

We believe this to be a corrosive and degenerative process that is gradually but
systematically destroying an entire people. There is an urgent need for the government
to put in place locally legal mechanisms, which can guarantee the economic,
social and cultural rights of Papuans. Signing and ratifying without delay
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, would be a welcome
development in remedying this egregious situation. This would go some way to
beginning the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law 21 of 2001.

Promoting Peace

Our partners in Papua remain passionately committed to building Papua as “a
land of peace – free from violence, oppression and grief”. They acknowledge statements
made by the government and security apparatus stating their willingness
to participate in peace activities such as the commemoration day of 5 February.
They are calling upon State bodies systematically to address the social injustices
and human rights violations of both civil and political, as well as economic, social
and cultural rights.

As non-governmental organizations with partners in Papua, we call upon the
Commission on Human Rights:

1. To urge the Indonesian government to apply a rights-based approach to
development in implementing the Special Autonomy Law;
2. To urge the Indonesian government to protect and respect the rights of
indigenous peoples in Papua;
3. To grant necessary support to the Indonesian government to promote peace
and solve the conflict with recourse to the mechanisms provided by the
Special Autonomy Law;
4. To grant the necessary support to the Indonesian government to uphold
the rule of law, so as to combat both impunity and rampant corruption;
5. To urge the new democratically-elected government to sign and ratify all
key international human rights treaties, especially the two international
covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and Civil and Political
6. To urge the Indonesian government to fully cooperate in the implementation
of the Special Procedures, by inviting and providing unrestricted
access to places, individuals and communities in Papua and all other parts
of Indonesia to the thematic mechanisms, in particular to those that have
repeatedly requested invitations, but have so far not received permission
to visit, including the Special Rapporteur on torture, Special Representative
of the Secretary General on human rights defenders, and Special Rapporteur
on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

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