Indonesian rights violations in Papua triple

Indonesian rights violations in Papua triple

Groups blame emphasis on economic development, militarist approach for being behind sharp increase in abuses


Police use water canons on protesters, mostly university students from the Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta in this Dec. 1, 2016 photo. The protesters were rallying against Indonesian rule over the eastern region of Papua. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta


February 22, 2017

Human rights violations in Papua more than tripled last year, undermining Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s post election pledge to solve longstanding grievances in the restive region, church and rights activists said.

In a report released on Feb. 20 by rights group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, there were 107 recorded cases of rights violations in 2016, which included arrests, torture, forced dismissals, killings and intimidation.

This was a sharp increase on the 2015 figure where only 30 cases were recorded, the report said.

More than 2,200 civilians were victims of violations, and included the arrest of more than 500 people on Dec. 19 during rallies calling for self-determination. Dec. 19 is the anniversary of Indonesia’s invasion of Papua in 1961.

President Joko Widodo’s emphasis on economic and infrastructure development, as well as his military approach in dealing with Papuan issues, caused the sharp increase in rights abuses, according to Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chief of the Setara Institute.

“President Widodo claimed that he would take a different approach from those followed by previous presidents. But what happens is that human rights violations continue to occur,” he said.

“This is dangerous because it can jeopardize relations between the central government and the Papuan people,” he said.

It could eventually result in complete lost of trust in the central government, he said.

Father Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network, described the human rights situation in the region as “gloomy.”

The sharp increase in violations showed that “the Papuan people are still regarded as a state enemy that needs to be destroyed,” he said.

“Continued violations have strengthened the spirit of nationalism among Papuans,” the priest said.

“It makes people proud if they can raise the Morning Star flag in public places even though they would end up being arrested and jailed,” he said.

Papuans look upon the flag as their national flag.

Father Tebay said Papuan people want central government to respect their rights and dignity.

He suggested Jakarta should hold dialogues with Papuan people to seek ways to resolve human rights violations.

Journalism award named after West Papuan journalist who passed away aged 23

Pantau Foundation introduced Oktovianus Pogau Award in Indonesia

Febriana Firdaus received the award on courage in journalism

For further information:

Imam Shofwan of Pantau Foundation: phone 0813-92352986 email

JAKARTA, 18 February 2017 – Jakarta has a new awardd on courage in journalism in honor of the West Papuan editor, Oktovianus Pogau, who passed away last year. It was awarded for the first time to reporter Febriana Firdaus, who had extensively covered human rights abuses in Indonesia, the Pantau Foundation said.

“We want to honor our colleague, Oktovianus Pogau, a smart and courageous journalist, who edited Suara Papua news and highlighted human rights reporting. He passed away at a very young age, just 23 years old. We want to honor his legacy by establishing this Oktovianus Pogau award,” said Imam Shofwan, the chairman of the Pantau Foundation, in a speech to a small gathering at his office on February 13.

The Pantau Foundation selected Febriana Firdaus, a Jakarta journalist, to receive the inaugural award. Firdaus covered Indonesia’s efforts to deal with the 1965-1966 massacres, disappearances and arbitrary detentions. She also covered discrimination, intimidations, and violence against the LGBT community in Indonesia.

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AdminFeb 16, 2017





Jayapura, Jubi – Indonesia has less than three months to deliver “full and free” press access to Papua provinces, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“Jakarta risks global condemnation if it continues to ignore the facts,” warns PFF Chair Monica Miller. ”

A visit last month by media freedom campaigners proves that access for Papua press is still far from full and free”, she says.

Violence, Bullying, Sexual Harassment

An eight person delegation from MFCI, the Media Freedom Committee Indonesia, visited the Papua towns of Jayapura, Merauke and Timika, between 29 January to 3 February 2017. Their reported findings include :
– Ten cases of violence against journalists that are still not resolved. – Only 16 foreign press were given permits to visit Papua last year, with 11 forced to accept government guides.
– Different treatment from Indonesian officials for indigenous journalists versus Indonesian journalists – such as stigmatisation and intimidation of “OAP” – ‘original Papua persons’.
– Local press still need police permits to cover public gatherings, including protests.
– Women journalists routinely suffer bullying and sexual harassment from government sources, but rarely report it to police because they “take it for granted.”
– In an atmosphere of surveillance, intimidation and harassment, media outlets find it impossible to recruit new reporters. One training session for newcomers saw 30 people on the first day, 12 the second day and none the third.
– Business models threaten independence of Papua media, including in Timika, where ad revenues are sourced from Freeport mine, its subsidiaries and local government.
– Threats against independence include pressure from “certain parties” on mass media not to cover environmental issues.
– Isolation from other media due to a lack of access to communications resources causes ethical lapses.
Supported by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, under its Strengthening Media and Society programme, the MFCI visit was also backed by the Denmark ministry of Foreign Affairs. PFF welcomes the input from WAN-IFRA, and praises the leadership role played by Denmark.
“Other diplomatic partners in Jakarta need to do much more to support press freedom,” says Miller.

“Their continued silence on abuses against the press and other human rights compares shamefully with billions in profit being made from Papua by outside interests.”
Findings from the MFCI visit join recent wide concern expressed about Indonesia blocking access to 800,000 websites. Among blocked sites is SuaraPapua – the Voice of Papua – a news outlet exposing human rights abuses.

Voice for the voiceless
PFF praises LBH Pers, the Legal Aid Institute for the Press, for representing SuaraPapua as a “voice for voiceless.” Last year, PFF laid down a deadline for open access to Papua, in the lead up to Indonesia hosting World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2017. The deadline was reportedly rejected by a minor official at the Indonesian embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.

Think Carefully
However, PFF has not been able to get confirmation of the alleged rejection from Jakarta.

“Instead of speeding up preparations for World Press Freedom Day, Jakarta appears to be slowing down”, says Miller.

“Make no mistake, Jakarta needs to think very, very carefully about its continued failure to fulfil its own promises, its own guarantees for media freedom under the Indonesian constitution, and its signature to many international treaties.”

Ahead of #WPFD2017, PFF is calling on journalists everywhere to focus attention on one of the world’s least reported areas.

“This year, global journalists must all prove themselves wantoks of the Papua press”, she says. Indonesia improved eight places between 2015 and 2016 on the RSF, Reporters Sans Frontiers World Press Freedom Index, at 130 of 180 countries, but is still coded red for a generally “bad” situation.