Government urged to end discrimination

Government urged to end discrimination
UCANews - April 26, 2010

NGO and Church leaders during the press conference on human rights
JAKARTA (UCAN) — Rights groups and churchmen have urged the government to cease what they call its discriminatory treatment of Papuan nationalists.

“We see the government and law enforcement officials still stigmatize and single out those who allegedly favor Papuan independence, including political prisoners,” several rights groups said in statement issued at an April 22 press conference.

The groups included the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and Human Rights Watch.

Peaceful dialogue involving all social and governmental elements is the solution to overcoming disagreements in Indonesia’s largest province, they said.

The groups also questioned what they called lack of government action over the death of Yawan Wayeni, a Papuan political activist.

Wayeni was shot dead by local police in a sweep against nationalist activists in Serui on Yapen Island.

The groups also raised the lack of medical treatment for Filep Karma, a Papuan political prisoner who suffers from severe prostate problems.

They urged the Department of Justice and Human Rights to allow Karma to undergo surgery at a Protestant-run hospital in Jakarta.

“Law Number 12/1995 of the penal code stipulates the directorate general of the department is responsible for the healthcare of all prisoners in jails across Indonesia,” they said.

They revealed that 68 political activists are being held in different jails in Papua. “But they are not treated properly. They face discriminatory and violent treatment including beatings,” they said.

During the press conference, Reverend Benny Giay, a Papuan Protestant pastor, said such discrimination was the result of a belief that most Papuans want independence.

He said many churches and NGOs in Papua come under scrutiny because of their vocal defense of human rights.

“We hope that rights groups outside Papua, especially Jakarta, will support us in speaking out against human rights abuses in Papua,” he said.

Speaking with UCA News, Dorus Wakum, a Papuan human rights activist, agreed that human rights activists were often seen as separatists. “Being labeled a separatist is a character killer,” he said.