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Joint letter: Human Rights Abuses in Papua and West Papua

July 17, 2014

[Thanks to VIVAT International for organizing this letter –

Human Rights Abuses in Papua and West Papua

We, the undersigned organizations, are concerned about the serious and ongoing violations of Human Rights that are taking place with impunity in the easternmost provinces of Indonesia Papua and West Papua. The violations of Human Rights have been well-documentedi and have been brought to the attention of Indonesia during the second round of the UPR process. Thirteen nations made recommendations to Indonesia with regard to the obligation to respect human rights in Papua and West Papuaii.

In 1963 the UN Temporary Executive Authority transferred the administration of Papua to Indonesia. In 1969 Indonesia incorporated Papua through the UN sponsored plebiscite of the so-called “Act of Free Choice”. Since the beginning of its administration of Papua, Indonesia has committed very serious violations of human rights, similar to those that took place in nearby Timor-Lesteiii. The actions of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM) that was founded in 1965 to pursue autonomy, although normally non-violent, have occasionally been violent. The presence of small groups of armed resistance who have made occasional attacks have been used by the Indonesian Police, National Army, Intelligence Services and paramilitary forces as a justification for periodic massacres, extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture and collective punishment. Additionally, villages have been destroyed and whole communities have been forced to resettle with practical impunity.

The ongoing repression of human rights, in Papua includes the passing of laws that suppress freedom of the press, freedom of speech and association. Peaceful demonstrations are dispersed by force. In many instances non-violent participants have been arrested and tortured, while others have been killed. Many prisoners have died while in detention. According to data from Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests has more than doubled in 2013 as compared with the previous year. Reports of torture and ill treatment of political detainees have also increased. Violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are ongoingiv

Policies have been initiated that have made indigenous Papuans disproportionately suffer. Tribal lands have been confiscated; natural resources have been exploited by non-Papuans. From the 1970s Indonesia has also encouraged the large scale transmigration of settlers from other parts of the Indonesian Archipelago to Papua. Nearly 80% of the indigenous people now live in poverty without access to medical care, safe drinking water or education.

Prior to the annexation of Papua in 1969, Indonesia began to negotiate with multinational corporations allowing them access to large tracts of lands to carry out mining, logging, petroleum and gas operations, and to create industrial palm oil plantations. The expropriation of indigenous land has provoked peaceful protests that are often repressed by means that violate their human rights.

We urge the Government of Indonesia to implement the recommendations that Indonesia accepted at its Periodic Reviewv with regard to respecting human rights in Papua and West Papua, and to also reconsider the recommendations that Indonesia rejected.

We make the following recommendations to the Government of Indonesia:

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