Press Release
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Papua : Reflections on 2009 and Projections for 2010
Support for Human Rights in Papua falls drastically

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) together with the National Human Rights Commission - Papua Representative believe that there has been a drastic downturn in the human rights situation in Papua. The state still ignores the protection of equality of citizens, respect for human dignity and the supremacy of law in Papua. The result is that prosperity and justice are increasingly remote for Papuans.

In 2009, criminalization against Papuan civilians increased. Security forces easily discredited people by accusing them of being separatists. The criminalization of the raising the Independence flag, the breaking up of peaceful demonstrations, and the shooting of Kelly Kwalik reflect the government’s lack of interest in dialogue with the people. Activists are also monitored and intimidated when doing field investigations, during meetings with diplomats and representatives of international organizations, and meetings between themselves.

The shooting death of the Papuan independence leader Kelly Kwalik is a failure of Indonesian democracy which mirrors the killing of Abdullah Syafei, the Free Aceh Movement leader, in 2002. Calling Kwalik and his organization, the Free Papua Movement (OPM), as extremists who must take responsibility every time there is conflict in Papua is excessive.

Kelly Kwalik’s organization, the OPM, is a small-scale insurgency movement. The pro-peace movement in Papua is much bigger, but unfortunately this is still ignored. The reality on the ground is still faced with repressive measures from the military and intelligence forces.

The violence in Papua hasn’t stopped due to various factors, most importantly the continuing injustice despite the end to the Military Operations Area (DOM) in 1998. Problems of marginalization and discrimination against Papua’s indigenous peoples is a result from politics focused on economic development, conflict politics, and mass migration that have been a feature of the situation since the 1970s.

The government needs to pay attention to work done by the research organization LIPI (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia) in its book Papua Road Map (2009), which concludes that failure to develop Papua is a widespread problem in public sectors like education, health, and the local economy.

The central government should be consistent in the conduct of democracy without discrimination. The commitment to prioritize dialog has to be realized together. Peace in Papua is not an impossible goal. If President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono holds to his democratic rhetoric, Papua would not be the target of repeated security operations.

Papuan identity also is not respected, which can be seen by the outlawing of unfurling of the independence flag. This is despite the protections afforded by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Though the government rejects this argument, flag-raising is not a criminal act and should not be met with violence.

Papuans also have yet to experience the state’s existence through adequate public service. This is because the local government is unready to set its policies in a way that openly includes the Papuan people.

Data gathered by the Franciscans International shows that in 2004 as many as 80 percent of indigenous Papuans lived in poverty, and 36 percent did not have access to any health facilities. These conditions are worsened by the exploitation of the natural resources, unmatched by a rise in quality of life for Papuans. New policies are need rather than policies which look good on paper but exacerbate the economic, social and political problems of Papua.

Traditional people (masyarakat adat) in Papua still do not feel that their cultural expressions, an integral part of their daily lives, are respected. Ordinarily difference can be celebrated in a feeling of unity, but in Papua expression and difference are met with rejection or categorized as criminal and met with excessive force. Civil and political rights are squeezed in Papua. One of the most important factors is the repressive measures that are taken by the government. The trend of violence on a large scale (both vertical and horizontal) and arbitrary detention mean that the human rights violations committed by security forces is the primary issue covered by the mass media.

The inconsistency of action and attitude by the central and provincial government in applying the Law on Special Autonomy has left the Papuan people feeling distrustful. Development targets set in the law have also not been met or felt by the Papuan people. These policies have resulted in a high level of social discrimination and the unchecked growth of corruption.

There are no clear priorities for implementing progress, protection and upholding of human rights in Papua. There are still no local bylaws regarding a Human Rights Court or Commission on Truth and Reconciliation in Papua as a legal framework for the implementation of Special Autonomy in Papua.

We call on the central and provincial governments to prioritize the interests of Papuans. Promises of prosperity, democracy and justice, which make up the three pillars of the Yudhoyono government’s policies, have to be felt directly by the Papuan people.

Jakarta, 15 January 2010

Usman Hamid Mathius Murib Oslan Purba

Coordinator of KontraS

National Commission on Human Rights - Papua Representative Secretary of the KontraS Federation