Rabu, 02 Mei 2012

Letter: Justice for Papuans, Please

Letter : Justice for Papuans, please

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 04/27/2012 12:49 PM
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Although Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Primo Alui Joelianto (“Indonesia-Australia: Beyond bilateralism”, The Jakarta Post, April 24) is right in saying that Indonesia has transformed itself from an authoritarian regime to a democratic state, there is still much work to be done in the field of human rights by the Indonesian government. Progress towards democracy in Indonesia has not translated to democracy in West Papua. 

In the past year the human rights situation in West Papua continued to deteriorate, with Indonesian security forces conducting numerous military operations throughout West Papua in 2011. 

In October, there was a crackdown on the Papuan Peoples’ Congress, where security forces used excessive force to arrest up to 300 Papuans. Three people were reportedly killed and five of the organizer’s were arrested and charged with treason. 

They received three years in prison for subversion. At no time did these men commit violence and they have been jailed solely for peacefully expressing their political views, as is their right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

This week, Amnesty International released a new briefing paper “Excessive Force: Impunity for police violence in Indonesia”. The report says that “police in Indonesia shoot, beat and even kill people without fear of prosecution, leaving their victims with little hope of justice.”

Hopefully, the Indonesian government will take on the recommendations in the report. If the police and military are not  held accountable for past human rights abuses, the abuses will continue.

In relation to West Papua, next month will mark 49 years since Indonesia took over its administration from the UN in 1963. The West Papuan people still continue their struggle for justice and self-determination. 

The large number of rallies by thousands of West Papuans calling for a referendum indicates just how unhappy West Papuans are with Jakarta’s rule over their lives. 

Jakarta and the international community should be asking the question, why?

Joe Collins

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