Intimidation follows UN envoy's mission to Papua

Church leaders and NGO activists in West Papua were greatly encouraged by the visit to West Papua by Hina Jilani,the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders on 8 June. According to the Director of the Office for Peace and Justice (SKP) of the Diocese of Jayapura, however, the time allotted for their meetings was brief and had to be cut off because previous meetings with the authorities had taken most of the time available. During a closed meeting with religious leaders, which last 45 minutes, 6 testimonies were presented, four by Protestant pastors and two by Catholic priests. The SKP Director said: 'Of course there were a group of intelligence agents hanging around but they were not allowed to get into the meeting room. Four government officials from Jakarta were present.'

A one-hour meeting with NGOs heard testimonies from student groups, women's groups, the community of human rights defenders at the grassroots, the tribal council and the labour union. A peaceful demonstration at Sentani Airport to welcome the UN envoy was disrupted by security agents when one of them forcibly took a banner saying 'stop genocide in Papua' and hit a female student At around the same time, hundreds of people organised a peaceful rally in Manokwari, calling for a referendum for Papua.

One week after the UN envoy's visit, four human rights NGOs issued a statement headed: 'Terror Against Human Rights Defenders following the visit of the UN Sec-Gen's Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, Ms Hina Jilani'. The statement said that although the local authorities, Muspida, which includes the military and the police, assured the UN envoy that they did not pursue a policy of attacking human rights defenders and were intent on defending them, violent acts occurred in the aftermath of the envoy's visit. They mentioned specifically three incidents:

1. A car in which two persons from the SKP, Ms Frederika Korain and Rev. Perinus Koyoga were travelling was deliberately hit by a vehicle in which two intelligence agents were travelling; they admitted that they were from the Intelligence Unit of the Trikora Military Command. When the driver of the SKP vehicle stopped the attacking car, the men in the car said that they were from the Trikora military command, but they then fled the scene. Members of the police who witnessed the incident actually saluted the men, giving the impression that the men were of higher rank.

2. Albert Rumbekwan, a member of the Papua branch of the National Human Rights Commission received a phone call , threatening that he would be killed and moreover, his office was surrounded by unknown persons.

3. Oktober Siahaan and Ahmad Irwandi of the Legal Aid Institute in Medan, North Sumatra were threatened by six members of the Indonesian army, the TNI while they were defending their clients in court. One of the officers warned that they would be stabbed if they presented witnesses at the trial.

The statement which was issued by four human rights NGOs, Imparsial, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, Kontras, Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, and the Papua Working Group, Pokja stated:

'These acts of violence towards human rights defenders are in clear violation of national laws and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Such acts are extremely damaging not only for human rights defenders but also besmirch the image of the Indonesian government which has sought to make a commitment to respecting human rights and protecting human rights defenders.'

They called on the Indonesian government to genuinely implement their responsibilities as set forth in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 9 December 1998, including safeguarding the lives of human rights defenders and to take action according to the law against those who have committed acts of violence against human rights defenders.

[A summary by Tapol of several reports amongst others from Imparsial, Kontras, SKP Jayapura, YLBHI and Pokja Papua.]