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Summary of events in West Papua for September 2017

October 3, 2017

72"d Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate

The Pacific leaders again raised the issue of West Papua at the 72"d Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate in New York. Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Tuvulu and from the Caribbean region, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all raised concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare condemned consistent human rights violations in West Papua, adding that the people there had never been allowed to exercise their right to self-determination………………………
update at

http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/australia-west-papua-association-sydney.html

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People gather in West Papua to give thanks at the success of the West Papuan People’s Petition

October 1, 2017

https://www.freewestpapua.org/2017/09/30/people-gather-in-west-papua-to-give-thanks-at-the-success-of-the-west-papuan-peoples-petition/

People gather in West Papua to give thanks at the success of the West Papuan People’s Petition

SEPTEMBER 30, 2017

On Friday 29th September, people in Sentani, West Papua, gathered to give thanks at the success of the West Papuan People’s Petition which was presented to the United Nations on 26th September.

For more information about the West Papuan People’s Petition at the United Nations, please take at look at the Guardian article on it’s presentation and the Guardian article on the UN’S response. ULMWP Spokesperon, Benny Wenda told the Guardian that Indonesia’s denial of the petition was further demonstration of its head-in-the-sand attitude to Papuan self-determination.

“The unprecedented petition of 1.8 million signatures of West Papuans has been delivered to the United Nations to remind the UN of the legacy of its failure to supervise a legitimate vote in 1969 and its ongoing duty to complete the decolonisation process.”

In West Papua, Chairperson of the National post of West Papua People’s Petition, who also serves as the Chairperson of the KNPB in Sentani, Allen Halitopo, expressed his deep gratitude to all who took part in the West Papuan People’s Petition. He said that this success came about thanks to the support of all groups in West Papua.

Allen Halitopo expressed his gratitude to the ULMWP Executive Committee who has worked hard to submit the West Papuan People’s Petition to the United Nations Decolonization Committee.

Calvin Wenda, Chairperson of the Local Petition Committee in the area and Chairperson of KNPB in the Numbay area also expressed his gratitude to all parties who have been involved and took part in this petition. He said that all this could not have happened without the the support of the West Papuan people so that we can win this victory.

The Chairperson of the Chairman of the National Petition Committee, Bazoka Logo in his speech said, a few years ago the West Papuan People’s struggle never anything tangible to oppose the Indonesian government but now in the West Papuan People’s Petition, they have a physical weapon to fight diplomatically. He said the Indonesian government’s panic has been expressed through the Indonesia media in claiming that the petition is a hoax but in reality the West Papuan People’s Petition is having big effects around the world.

The West Papuan people also expressed their special thanks to the countries who supported West Papuan self-determination at the United Nations General Assembly last week: Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Outlawed West Papua independence petition presented to the United Nations

September 28, 2017

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-27/west-papua-independence-petition-handed-to-un/8994400

Outlawed West Papua independence petition presented to the United Nations

By Timothy Fernandez

Posted about an hour ago

A secret petition demanding a new independence referendum for West Papua has been presented to the United Nations.

The Indonesian Government banned the petition in the provinces of West Papua and Papua, threatening that those who signed it will be arrested and face jail.

But the document was smuggled between villages where it has been signed by 1.8 million West Papuans, more than 70 per cent of the province’s population.

Advocates argue that West Papuans have been denied a legitimate self-determination process, since it was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969.

The petition demands a free vote on West Papua’s independence as well as the appointment of a UN representative, to investigate reports of human rights violations by Indonesian security forces.

The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, said the petition was incredibly important and the people of West Papua had effectively already voted to demand their self-determination.

“They have come in numbers to express their hope for a better future,” Mr Sogavare said in his UN General Assembly speech.

United Liberation Movement for West Papua spokesman Benny Wenda said signing the petition was a “dangerous act” for West Papuans, with 57 people arrested for supporting the petition, and 54 tortured by Indonesian security forces during the campaign.

“The Global Petition for West Papua, run in tandem with the West Papuan People’s Petition, was also targeted and the platform that initially hosted it, Avaaz, was blocked throughout all of Indonesia,” he said.

Jason Macleod, of University of Sydney’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, said the petition needed to be understood as a “fundamental rejection” of the Indonesian Government’s claim of sovereignty over West Papua.

“In a very clear and direct manner, the petition represents Papuans’ demand for decolonisation and self-determination, their desire to freely and fairly determine their own future,” Dr Macleod said.

—————————————

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/27/banned-west-papua-independence-petition-un

2) Banned West Papua independence petition handed to UN
Exclusive: Document outlawed by Indonesia was ‘smuggled from one end of Papua to the other’ and signed by 70% of the population

Ben Doherty and Kate Lamb in Jakarta
Wednesday 27 September 2017 15.00 AEST

A petition banned by the Indonesian government, but bearing the signatures of 1.8 million West Papuans – more than 70% of the contested province’s population – has been presented to the United Nations, with a demand for a free vote on independence.

Exiled West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda presented the bound petition to the UN’s decolonisation committee, the body that monitors the progress of former colonies – known as non-self-governing territories – towards independence.

The petition was banned in the provinces of Papua and West Papua by the Indonesian government, and blocked online across the country, so petition sheets had to be “smuggled from one end of Papua to the other”, Wenda told the Guardian from New York.

Independence campaigners have been jailed and allegedly tortured in Papua for opposing the rule of Indonesia, which has controlled Papua (now Papua and West Papua) since 1963. Those signing the petition risked arrest and jail.

“The people have risked their lives, some have been beaten up, some are in prison. In 50 years, we have never done this before, and we had to organise this in secret,” Wenda said.

“People were willing to carry it between villages, to smuggle it from one end of Papua to the other, because this petition is very significant for us in our struggle for freedom.”

The petition asks the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses and “put West Papua back on the decolonisation committee agenda and ensure their right to self‐determination … is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote”.

West Papua was formerly on the decolonisation committee’s agenda – which monitors progress towards decolonisation and independent rule – but was removed in 1963.

Wenda said it felt to him that West Papua’s referendum “had already happened” and that the petition was a manifestation of the people’s desire for independence.

“The people have already chosen, people have signed the petition with their blood and their thumbprint. We are optimistic, confident, that in a few years, we will have progress. This is not just an activist issue: this has gone up to government level, to diplomatic level, up to the United Nations.”

Independence activist Yanto Awerkion was jailed in June for leading a rally in support of the petition. He remains in custody and potentially faces charges of treason.

In an interview from prison, he said: “From behind the iron bars I order and appeal to the international community and to the United Nations, please hear the voice of the West Papuan people.”

‘A publicity stunt’

However, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir, accompanying the country’s contingent to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, dismissed the West Papuan petition as baseless theatrics.

“That is purely a publicity stunt with no credibility,” he told the Guardian via a text message, “Papua is an integral part of Indonesia as provided for in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2504 (XXIV) 1969.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has worked hard to demonstrate the central government’s commitment to developing the easternmost province, prioritising infrastructure and connectivity development, and visiting more than six times since his election in 2014.

The UK’s all-party parliamentary group on West Papua fully supported the petition and its push for UN action, co-chair Alex Sobel said. “This inspiring act of mass democratic expression should definitively lay to rest rhetoric from the Indonesian government that West Papuans are content being part of Indonesia,” he said.

“The people of West Papua have endured over 50 years of widespread human rights violations that have been described by many as a systematic genocide. It has become clear that in an ever worsening situation, the people of West Papua are not safe under Indonesian occupation.”

At the UN over the last week, support for Papuan independence has come from fellow Melanesian leaders of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. But the deputy prime minister of Caribbean nation St Vincent and the Grenadines, Louis Straker, also lent his support to the “legitimate aspiration … for freedom” of the West Papuan people.

Indonesian-controlled Papua and West Papua form the western half of the island of New Guinea. Political control of the region has been contested for more than half a century and Indonesia has consistently been accused of gross human rights violations and violent suppression of the region’s independence movement.

The people indigenous to the province are Melanesian, ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia and more closely linked to the people of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Formerly the Netherlands New Guinea, Papua was retained by the Dutch after Indonesian independence in 1945 but the province was annexed by Jakarta in 1963.

Indonesia formalised its control over West Papua in 1969 when its military hand-picked 1,026 of West Papua’s population and compelled them into voting in favour of Indonesian annexation under a UN-supervised process known as the Act of Free Choice.

A 2004 report by the International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School said: “Indonesian military leaders began making public threats against Papuan leaders … vowing to shoot them on the spot if they did not vote for Indonesian control.”

Known as Irian Jaya until 2000, it been split into two provinces, Papua and West Papua, since 2003. They have semi-autonomous status.

Many Papuans regard the Indonesian takeover as an illegal annexation and the OPM (Free Papua Movement) has led a low-level insurgency for decades. That insurgency has long been the excuse for significant military involvement in Papua.

With the heightened police and military presence, there have been reports of security force abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, excessive use of force and mistreatment of peaceful protesters. At least 37 Papuans remain behind bars for peaceful acts of free expression or expressing solidarity with the independence movement.

There is little independent scrutiny of the situation in West Papua, as human rights organisations and journalists are restricted from visiting.

Dr Jason MacLeod, from Sydney University’s centre for peace and conflict studies, said the petition directly challenged Indonesia’s legitimacy in West Papua.

“The people of West Papua have never had a chance to freely or fairly decide their political status. This is the first time they’ve really been able to canvas people’s political views from across the territory: a huge number of people have participated in it and overwhelmingly indicated their support for the referendum.”

Human Rights in West Papua 2017

September 27, 2017

Human Rights in West Papua 2017

ICP, 26 September 2017

http://www.humanrightspapua.org/hrreport/2017
http://www.watchindonesia.org/19406/human-rights-in-west-papua-2017?lang=en

[The fifth report of the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) covering events from January 2015 until December 2016 ]

ICP_2017More than 40 organisations in West Papua, Jakarta and worldwide have brought their analysis on the human rights and conflict situation in West Papua together. The executive summary of the 218-pages report explains how several human rights standards have deteriorated over the last two years. The report is compiled by the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and the German Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN). You can now download the report on this page.

The years 2015 and 2016 were characterized by a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in West Papua compared to previous years. Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space. Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.

An Indonesian translation of the report is being prepared by Franciscans International and will be available soon.

Download the full report here: <http://www.watchindonesia.org/wp-content/uploads/HumanRightsPapua2017-ICP.pdf>

Executive Summary

The years 2015 and 2016 were characterized by a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in West Papua compared to previous years. The term West Papua refers to the Indonesian easternmost provinces of ‘Papua’ and ‘Papua Barat’. Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space. Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.

Indigenous Papuans, particularly women, continued to have a high risk of becoming victims of human rights violations. Racist attitudes toward West Papuans among the police and military, insufficient legal protection, the lack of proper law enforcement, inconsistent policy implementation and corruptive practices amongst government officials contributed to the impunity of security forces.

Government critics and activists faced legal prosecution with varying charges. Using a charge of treason (‘makar’) remained common against non-violent offenders. West Papuan political activists also faced an increasing number of charges incitement or violence despite the non-violence of protest and almost all activism. The deterioration of the political and civil rights situation in West Papua during the past two years was most obvious in the sheer number of political arrests. Those arrests drastically increased to 1083 in 2015, and then quadrupled in 2016 to 5361 arrests, in tandem with growing political protest for self-determination. Almost all of the arrests came during peaceful protest in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). In addition, the Indonesian government and the regional police in West Papua increasingly restricted the right to freedom of opinion and expression using official statements (Makhlumat) issued by the Papuan Regional Police in 2016.

Local journalists in West Papua faced continued intimidation and obstruction from the security forces. In comparison to previous years, the number of reported cases against local journalists has slightly decreased throughout the reporting period 2015 and 2016. President Joko Widodo’s promise in May 2015, to make West Papua freely accessible to foreign journalists and international observers was not implemented. Foreign journalists were in an increasing number of cases prevented from entering West Papua or when permitted to enter, they faced obstruction, surveillance, intimidation and physical violence. International human rights organisations and humanitarian organisations such as the Inter­ national Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) remained banned from freely accessing West Papua.

Human rights defenders in West Papua had to work under fear of being monitored, threatened and obstructed by the security forces. The killing of well-known human rights defender Joberth Jitmau, marked the sad highlight of attacks against human rights defenders during these two years. The police termed Jitmau’s killing a traffic accident and did not conduct a criminal investigation. Jitmau’s case was a representative example of the widespread impunity in West Papua. Only in rare instances were security forces prosecuted in public or military trials. Two of the three cases of prosecution resulted in considerably low sentences for the perpetrators in view of the severity of the criminal offences. Security force members also continued to use torture and ill-treatment as a common response to political protest or incidents of alleged disturbance of public order. Extra-judicial killings occurred particularly often as an act of revenge or retaliation for violent acts or other non-violent interactions with members of the security forces.

The situation with regard to economic, social and cultural rights in West Papua was stagnant. The quality of education in West Papua remained considerably low, due to poor management of the education system, inadequate competencies, high absence rates amongst teachers, and inadequate funding. (Less than 1% of Papua Province’s annual budget goes to education.) There is still no culturally appropriate curriculum in place, which is capable of improving the educational situation of indigenous Papuan children and of preserving local cultures. Health care and education remained in a devas­tating condition, far below the national average, despite the large amount of special autonomy funds that flow to the two administrative provinces Papua and Papua Barat. There is a strong imbalance in the fulfillment of minimum standards in terms of health, education, food and labor rights between the urban areas and the remote inland areas of West Papua. Indigenous Papuans, who mostly reside outside the urban centres, suffer the most of this imbalance. Both Papuan provinces are amongst the regions with the highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS infections and child mortality of any ‘Indonesian province’, whilst the quality of health services is alarmingly low. Insufficient equipment in rural health care institutions and a lack of adequate health monitoring and response mechanisms remained strikingly evident. These shortcomings were highlighted when a pertussis epidemic broke out in the remote highland regency of Nduga, killing least 51 children and three adults within a span of three months in late 2015. Malnutrition enabled the rapid spread of the epidemic.

The case also mirrors the government’s growing challenge to guarantee indigenous Papuans right to food. Palm oil plantations and other agri­cultural mega-projects have led to the destruction of local food sources, livestock and access to clean drinking water. Cases of domestic violence are often settled in non-legal ways, which fail to bring justice for the victims and lack a deterrent effect for perpetrators. Women living with HIV/AIDS are particularly often facing discrimination and stigmatization.

The very existence of West Papuans is threatened by the uncontrolled migration from other parts of Indonesia. This particularly applies to the urban centers where they have largely become a marginalized minority facing strong economic competition. In most rural areas, where indigenous Papuans are still the majority, government-promoted large-scale natural resource exploitation projects attract migrants and continue to cause severe environmental degra­dation as well as the destruction of live­ stock of indigenous communities. Govern­ment institutions continued to facilitate the interests of private Indonesian and foreign companies. This practice negatively impacts indigenous people’s right to their ancestral lands and resources as well as their right to determine their development. Resource extraction often means clearing large forest areas and polluting of water resources, thereby forcing indigenous communities to change their very way of life. Destruction of forests and hunting grounds as a life source puts an additional burden on women, in particular.

A significant development throughout 2016 was the growing international attention for the human rights situation in West Papua. The formation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the regional support group, Pacific Decolonization Solidarity Movement (PDSM) brought a new dynamic to the international human rights advocacy work. MSG member states, such as, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other pacific states have all expressed their concerns regarding ongoing human rights violations against the indigenous Papuan population in the UN General Assembly in 2016. Vanuatu also addressed the human rights situation in West Papua during the UN Human Rights Council Sessions in 2015. In response, the government of Indonesia accused pacific countries of the miss-use of allegations of human rights violations to support the Papuan pro-independence movement. Indonesia further rights mechanisms and their achievements in the field of economic development in West Papua. The human rights situation in West Papua was additionally addressed by other United Nations bodies, among them the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which issued an Early Warning to the Government of Indonesia.

Human Rights in West Papua Report 2017 ICP

September 26, 2017

HUMAN RIGHTS in WEST PAPUA 2017

More than 40 organisations in West Papua, Jakarta and worldwide have brought their analysis on the human rights and conflict situation in West Papua together. The executive summary of the 218-pages report explains how several human rights standards have deteriorated over the last two years. The report is compiled by the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and the German Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN). You can now download the report on this page.

The years 2015 and 2016 were characterized by a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in West Papua compared to previous years. Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space. Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.

An Indonesian translation of the report is being prepared by Franciscans International and will be available soon.

Please download the Human Rights in West Papua Report 2017 here:

http://www.humanrightspapua.org/hrreport/2017


Executive Summary

The years 2015 and 2016 were characterized by a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in West Papua compared to previous years. The term West Papua refers to the Indonesian easternmost provinces of ‘Papua’ and ‘Papua Barat’. Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space. Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.

Indigenous Papuans, particularly women, continued to have a high risk of becoming victims of human rights violations. Racist attitudes toward West Papuans among the police and military, insufficient legal protection, the lack of proper law enforcement, inconsistent policy implementation and corruptive practices amongst government officials contributed to the impunity of security forces.

Government critics and activists faced legal prosecution with varying charges. Using a charge of treason (‘makar’) remained common against non-violent offenders. West Papuan political activists also faced an increasing number of charges incitement or violence despite the non-violence of protest and almost all activism. The deterioration of the political and civil rights situation in West Papua during the past two years was most obvious in the sheer number of political arrests. Those arrests drastically increased to 1083 in 2015, and then quadrupled in 2016 to 5361 arrests, in tandem with growing political protest for self-determination. Almost all of the arrests came during peaceful protest in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). In addition, the Indonesian government and the regional police in West Papua increasingly restricted the right to freedom of opinion and expression using official statements (Makhlumat) issued by the Papuan Regional Police in 2016.

Local journalists in West Papua faced continued intimidation and obstruction from the security forces. In comparison to previous years, the number of reported cases against local journalists has slightly decreased throughout the reporting period 2015 and 2016. President Joko Widodo’s promise in May 2015, to make West Papua freely accessible to foreign journalists andinternational observers was not implemented. Foreign journalists were in an increasing number of cases prevented from entering West Papua or when permitted to enter, they faced obstruction, surveillance, intimidation and physical violence. International human rights organisations and humanitarian organisations such as the Inter­
national Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) remained banned from freely accessing West Papua.

Human rights defenders in West Papua had to work under fear of being monitored, threatened and obstructed by the security forces. The killing of well-known human rights defender Joberth Jitmau, marked the sad highlight of attacks against human rights defenders during these two years. The police termed Jitmau’s killing a traffic accident and did not conduct a criminal investigation. Jitmau’s case was a representative example of the widespread impunity in West Papua. Only in rare instances were security forces prosecuted in public or military trials. Two of the three cases of prosecution resulted in considerably low sentences for the perpetrators in view of the severity of the criminal offences. Security force members also continued to use torture and ill-treatment as a common response to political protest or incidents of alleged disturbance of public order. Extra-judicial killings occurred particularly often as an act of revenge or retaliation for violent acts or other non-violent interactions with members of the security forces.

2017 sample ENG Cover Seite1The situation with regard to economic, social and cultural rights in West Papua was stagnant. The quality of education in West Papua remained considerably low, due to poor management of the education system, inadequate competencies, high absence rates amongst teachers, and inadequate funding. (Less than 1% of Papua Province’s annual budget goes to education.) There is still no culturally appropriate curriculum in place, which is capable of improving the educational situation of indigenous Papuan children and of preserving local cultures. Health care and education remained in a devas­tating condition, far below the national average, despite the large amount of special autonomy funds that flow to the two administrative provinces Papua and Papua Barat. There is a strong imbalance in the fulfillment of minimum standards in terms of health, education, food and labor rights between the urban areas and the remote inland areas of West Papua. Indigenous Papuans, who mostly reside outside the urban centres, suffer the most of this imbalance. Both Papuan provinces are amongst the regions with the highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS infections and child mortality of any ‘Indonesian province’, whilst the quality of health services is alarmingly low. Insufficient equipment in rural health care institutions and a lack of adequate health monitoring and response mechanisms remained strikingly evident. These shortcomings were highlighted when a pertussis epidemic broke out in the remote highland regency of Nduga, killing least 51 children and three adults within a span of three months in late 2015. Malnutrition enabled the rapid spread of the epidemic.

The case also mirrors the government’s growing challenge to guarantee indigenous Papuans right to food. Palm oil plantations and other agri­cultural mega-projects have led to the destruction of local food sources, livestock and access to clean drinking water. Cases of domestic violence are often settled in non-legal ways, which fail to bring justice for the victims and lack a deterrent effect for perpetrators. Women living with HIV/AIDS are particularly often facing discrimination and stigmatization.

The very existence of West Papuans is threatened by the uncontrolled migration from other parts of Indonesia. This particularly applies to the urban centers where they have largely become a marginalized minority facing strong economic competition. In most rural areas, where indigenous Papuans are still the majority, government-promoted large-scale naturalresource exploitation projects attract migrants and continue to cause severe environmental degra­dation as well as the destruction of live­ stock of indigenous communities. Govern­ment institutions continued to facilitate the interests of private Indonesian and foreign companies. This practice negatively impacts indigenous people’s right to their ancestral lands and resources as well as their right to determine their development. Resource extraction often means clearing large forest areas and polluting of water resources, thereby forcing indigenous communities to change their very way of life. Destruction of forests and hunting grounds as a life source puts an additional burden on women, in particular.

A significant development throughout 2016 was the growing international attention for the human rights situation in West Papua. The formation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the regional support group, Pacific Decolonization Solidarity Movement (PDSM) brought a new dynamic to the international human rights advocacy work. MSG member states, such as, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other pacific states have all expressed their concerns regarding ongoing human rights violations against the indigenous Papuan population in the UN General Assembly in 2016. Vanuatu also addressed the human rights situation in West Papua during the UN Human Rights Council Sessions in 2015. In response, the government of Indonesia accused pacific countries of the miss-use of allegations of human rights violations to support the Papuan pro-independence movement. Indonesia further rights mechanisms and their achievements in the field of economic development in West Papua. The human rights situation in West Papua was additionally addressed by other United Nations bodies, among them the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which issued an Early Warning to the Government of Indonesia

SOGAVARE CHALLENGES UN TO ACT SWIFTLY ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN WEST PAPUA

September 25, 2017

SOGAVARE CHALLENGES UN TO ACT SWIFTLY ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN WEST PAPUA

NEW YORK (22/09/2017): Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has challenged the United Nations General Assembly to act swiftly to stop ongoing human rights atrocities committed against the Melanesian people of West Papua.

Addressing the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York today (Friday 22nd Sept), Mr. Sogavare said the UN’ s lack of attention to the plight of the Melanesian people of West Papua grossly contradicts Article 73 of the UN Charter, which, speaks powerfully on fundamental human rights and in its 1960 ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’.

Mr. Sogavare told World Leaders at the UN that Solomon Islands position on decolonization and human rights issues are premised on principles that it had consistently upheld and in this connection, “Solomon Islands condemns the consistent human rights violations in West Papua”.

“Our Sustainable Development Goals that promote the notion of “no-one left behind” is synonymous to empty promises unless we, in the United Nations, take active steps to address the plight of the peoples of West Papua”.

“Indeed, we have left them behind some 50 years ago when we, as a Family of Nations, noted their plight without much to add. Since then, the peoples of West Papua were never allowed the proper act of self-determination guaranteed by the inalienable right to self- determination as expressed in UN human rights Covenants,” Mr. Sogavare said.

The Solomon Islands leader said only international action by individual countries and from leading organizational bodies of the international system, especially the United Nations General Assembly – can pave the way for the recognition of a people whose right to self-determination had been denied for nearly fifty years.

“Failing this, we as a Family of Nations will become complicit in perpetuating the suffering and being blind to the injustice; missing yet another golden opportunity to remain true to the saying of “leaving no-one behind,” Sogavare said.

At the 71st UNGA session last year, a group of Pacific Island nations called on the UN to address the human rights violations in West Papua and the Prime Minister today stand on behalf of Solomon Islanders and those in the Pacific region to reiterate this same call on the world body to address the plight of West Papuan women, children and men.

“Our people are watching, West Papuans inside West Papua are watching, praying and are hoping for a brighter future. They have come in numbers to express their hope for a better future. We as leaders have this responsibility of “leaving NO-ONE BEHIND,” Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister again encourages Indonesia to engage in more constructive dialogue, including with West Papua to find a way forward in addressing the aspirations of the people of West Papua while at the same time urges the UN to proactively engage in these dialogues.

Indonesia considers West Papua as one its Provinces since taking over that region from the Netherlands in 1969 under what was called the “Act of Free Choice” which it claimed West Papuan Leaders have decided to remain as part of Indonesia.

Melanesian leaders condemn UN for turning ‘a deaf ear’ to West Papua atrocities

September 24, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/24/melanesian-leaders-condemn-un-for-turning-a-deaf-ear-to-west-papua-atrocities

Melanesian leaders condemn UN for turning ‘a deaf ear’ to West Papua atrocities

Solomon Islands and Vanuatu leaders want investigation into alleged abuses and support for independence campaign

Ben Doherty

Saturday 23 September 2017 22.12 EDT

Melanesian leaders have accused the United Nations of having “turned a deaf ear” to human rights atrocities in the Indonesian province of Papua and urged the world to support the region’s campaign for independence.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, the prime ministers of the Solomon Islandsand Vanuatu called on the UN’s Human Rights Council to formally investigate long-standing allegations of human rights abuses in the provinces.

Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai,said the people of West Papua must be allowed the right to self-determination, to free themselves of the “yoke of colonialism”.

West Papua protest: Indonesian police kill one and wound others – reports

“For half a century now the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence and arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua, perpetrated by Indonesia, but the international community has turned a deaf ear to the appeals for help. We urge the Human Rights Council to investigate these cases.

“We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination and to jointly with Indonesia put an end to all kinds of violence and find common ground with the nationals to facilitate putting together a process which will enable them to freely express their choice.”

The Solomons leader, Manasseh Sogavare, said the UN’s sustainable development goal motto of “no one left behind” would be “synonymous to empty promises unless we in the United Nations take active steps to address the plight of the people of West Papua”.

“Failing this, we as a family of nations will become complicit in perpetuating the sufferings and becoming blind to the injustices, missing yet another golden opportunity to remain true to the saying of ‘leaving no one behind’.”

Indonesian-controlled Papua and West Papua form the western half of the island of New Guinea. Political control of the region has been contested for more than half a century and Indonesia has consistently been accused of gross human rights violations and violent suppression of the region’s independence movement.

The people indigenous to the province are Melanesian, ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia and more closely linked to the people of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Formerly the Netherlands New Guinea, Papua was retained by the Dutch after Indonesian independence in 1945 but the province was annexed by Jakarta in 1963 and Indonesia control was formalised by a 1969 referendum widely condemned as having been fixed by the Suharto government.

Known as Irian Jaya until 2000, the province has also been split into two provinces, Papua and West Papua, since 2003.

Many Papuans consider the Indonesian takeover to have been an illegal annexation and the OPM (Free Papua Movement) has led a low-level insurgency for decades.

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Indonesia accused of arresting more than 1,000 in West Papua

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That insurgency has long been the excuse for significant military involvement in Papua.

With the heightened police and military presence, there have been reports of security force abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, excessive use of force and mistreatment of peaceful protesters.

At least 37 Papuans remain behind bars for peaceful acts of free expression or expressing solidarity with the independence movement.

There is little independent scrutiny of the situation in West Papua, human rights organisations and journalists are restricted from visiting.

On taking office in 2014, the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, pledged to boost economic development of Papua and he –ostensibly – eased restrictions on external scrutiny of the region, though travel strictures have not substantially changed. He visited the province in May.

Last month Jokowi met with Papuan civil society, church and customary leaders to discuss establishing a formal mechanism for debating Papua’s long-standing issues. However, Jakarta opposes independence and regards retention of Papua as a fundamental to its “territorial integrity”.