Papua rights abuses under the spotlight
West Papua has been highlighted at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in recent days. But as international focus grows on ongoing human rights abuses against West Papuans, Jakarta says it's taking concrete action to address the issue.
Allegations of human rights abuses in Indonesia's Papua region, or West Papua, have been highlighted at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.
But as the international focus sharpens on ongoing human rights abuses against West Papuans, Jakarta says it's taking concrete action to address the issue.
Johnny Blades reports.
During the 32nd session of the Council Plenary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association zeroed in on Papua. Maina Kiai said what was occurring in Papua was a phenomenon connected with cultural fundamentalism and nationalism where West Papuans in their own land are dominated by another culture, language and tradition. The Solomon Islands diplomat in Geneva, Barrett Salato, told the session his government received regular reports from Papua about cases of arbitrary arrests, summary execution, torture, restriction of freedom of expression, assembly and association, committed mainly by Indonesian police. Afterwards, he said it was important to raise the issue globally.
BARRETT SALATO: It will give the international community some awareness about what's going on (in Papua). Not much information goes out to the international community about what's happening so we take it here to the right body of the UN to raise the voices of our fellow human beings that does not have a voice in the human rights council.
One of those in attendance in Geneva was Victor Yeimo. He is the chairman of the West Papua National Committee which has organised a recent series of large demonstrations in Papua in support of Papuan self-determination.
It's estimated four thousand Papuans were arrested during the demonstrations.
VICTOR YEIMO: Too many people die in West Papua, many arrested, many in prison... everyone there. But today, we are very thank you to Vanuatu and Solomon islands to stand strong for us to make voice in Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Jakarta has been pushing ahead with the establishment of a team tasked with addressing a number of cases of human rights abuses in Papua. As part of this, the Co-ordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, this month travelled to Papua with a number of regional ambassadors, including New Zealand's Trevor Matheson, to monitor the handling of rights cases there. However various Papuan provincial government and civil society figures are concerned that the team is not independent. One of those is Karel Phil Erari, deputy chairman of the Alliance of Churches in Indonesia.
KAREL PHIL ERARI: I have been rejecting this team because it has never been consulted with the churches, the real churches in Papua.
He urges the international community to press Jakarta to take meaningful steps to address the abuses.
KAREL PHIL ERARI: Jakarta should open an all-inclusive dialogue to ensure that the human rights abuses in papua should be ended for the sake of humanity, for the sake of justice and peace in Papua.
Meanwhile, Barrett Salato told the Human Rights Council that while increased attention on West Papua from Indonesia's president Joko Widodo is welcome, core violations of Papuans' rights remain unresolved.
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