Govt ignores upholding human rights in Papua

The Jakarta Post

Irawaty Wardany, 20 January 2010


‘Govt ignores upholding human rights in Papua’

The Human Rights Commission considers the government ignored upholding human rights in Papua in 2009.

Matius Murib from the commission’s Papuan branch said criminalization of Papuan civilians had escalated significantly, with security forces discrediting anyone suspected of being a member of a separatist group.

“The criminalization of people who hoisted [separatist] flags, the stoppage of peaceful demonstrations and the shooting of Free Papua Organization [OPM] leader Kelly Kwalik are a projection of how the government is reluctant to have a dialogue with the Papuans,” he said. Kelly, accused of masterminding a series of attacks on employees of US-based mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, was shot dead by police December last year during a raid on his house in Timika.

“We think Kelly’s death showed the government’s failure in settling conflict within a democratic framework in Papua,” he said.

Matius said human rights activists were closely watched and at times intimidated when investigating human rights abuses or meeting representatives of international organizations. He said the government preferred to use military and security approaches in dealing with Papuans, thereby violating the civilian rights of the people. The government never thought it had failed to provide Papuans with their basic rights, which might be the reason for their separatist demands.

“Data from the International Fransiscans in 2004 showed 80 percent of indigenous Papuans live under the poverty line, 36.1 percent do not have access to health facilities,” Matius said. Increasing exploitation of Papua’s natural resources worsened the situation, therefore, they had asked the government and regional administrations to give priority to Papuans. “Promises to improve welfare, uphold democracy and justice — Yudhoyono’s three main programs — should be enjoyed by the Papuans,” he said.