Friar urges NZ to take stand on West Papua

Friar urges NZ to take stand on West Papua 
CathNews Asia, 26 November 2010

Franciscan Friar Budi Hernawan has told New Zealanders that their government need to take a stand against Indonesia’s use of torture in West Papua.

“The more people that speak out about [West Papua], especially in the neighbouring countries, creates more pressure and awareness,” says Brother Budi Hernawan talking to a group in central Auckland last Friday, Pacific Scoop reports.

“It is the role of society to push for [human rights].”

Brother Hernawan is an Indonesian Franciscan Friar who went to work in West Papua 13 years ago. He is currently completing his PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra.

His research concentrates on the issue of torture in Papua in relation to peacebuilding. His goal is to create solid evidence of torture in West Papua for human rights advocates.

“In Papua torture is done in public it is not hidden,” Brother Hernawan says. “It is done to instil fear in the people.

“You have to behave yourself otherwise you will be arrested.”

Brother Hernawan presented a report to the United Nations Committee against Torture about West Papua’s situation in 2008. Between 1998 and 2007 Brother Hernawan and his team counted 242 cases of torture in West Papua.

Only three were formally presented to the Human Rights Committee. Only one case went to trial and all perpetrators were acquitted.

Brother Hernawan says there were some changes made by the UN after the report but two years on there has been very little progress in reducing torture in West Papua.