World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

The human rights situation in Papua, Indonesia

03 March 2006

Joint written statement submitted at the UN Commission on Human Rights' 62nd
Session, Item 9: Question of the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
in any part of the world, 3 March, 2006

The situation in Papua from January 2005 to January 2006 continued to reveal
significant threats to the existence of Papuans due to detrimental economic, social
and cultural policies and their implementation by the Indonesian government.
These policies and practices do not fully respect nor protect the basic human rights
of Papuans.

Civil and political rights

Despite the significant progress that was made this year to resolve the political
instability and armed resistance in Aceh, the government of Indonesia remains
unprepared to engage in a political dialogue with Papuans regarding aspirations
of Papuan independence. The opportunities that were available during President
Wahid's administration are now completely removed. The lack of opportunity for
genuine dialogue with the Indonesian government or access to formal legal recourse
forces Papuans to raise their concerns outside formal channels. Consequently, public
protests occur and resistance movements are created which are dealt with by
force from the police and military. Such excessive force by security forces was evident
on 10 May, 2005, when the police reportedly beat student protesters.

1. The genuine implementation of the Special Autonomy law (Otsus) vis-à-vis
the existing province of West Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Barat/IJB) remains unresolved.
In a very large protest involving more than ten thousand people, on
12 August, 2005, the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua/DAP)
categorically rejected Otsus on the basis that it did not address the fundamental
problems of Papuans: the protection of Papuans in their homeland and
respect for Papuans' identity. Despite limited support for the existence of Irian
Jaya Barat from some local politicians, the significant legal and political conflicts
associated with the new division of Papua remain. The central government
appears determined to continue with the division of Papua.

2. The recent Mayor and Regent elections (Pemilihan Kepala Daerah/PILKADA)
have created further divisions and fragmentation among the people. The election
campaigns in Pegunungan Bintang, Asmat, Boven Digul, Sorong Selatan,
Tolikara, Yahukimo, illustrate that the political interests destroy social cohesion
and traditional relationships since the candidates of regents and deputy
of regents exploited ethnic, clan and religious sentiments to win their candidacy.
Moreover, PILKADA disrupted the cycle of food production, as people
neglected their gardens and food security was threatened.

3. The recent establishment of new military battalions in Sota (Merauke) and
Wamena increase the already heavy military presence throughout Papua. The
Indonesian military in Papua routinely act with impunity and frequently act
violently against the local people. In addition, a newly established navy base
in Sorong has caused a serious land rights dispute due to the unfair processes
employed by the military to occupy the land. Recent cases of military atrocities
in Kimbim, Asiki and Waghete are illustrative of the continuing and
systemic patterns of abuse by the security apparatus in Papua. It is in this militarized
environment that the security forces treat the people of Papua as objects
of surveillance. The renewal of military ties between the United Sates and
Indonesia in November 2005 provides logistical support for the actions of the
Indonesian military.

4. In September 2005, the Permanent Human Rights Court handed down its
long-awaited judgments in respect of the responsibility of two senior police
officers for gross human rights violations in Abepura (2000). The court acquitted
both officers on charges relating to the deaths of three Papuan students
and the torture of hundreds of others. Despite the dissenting opinion of one
of the judges, the Court decided that these two police officers did not commit
crimes against humanity as they acted spontaneously during the police
raid on the student dormitories and the Lani's people's resettlements. Viewed
in the context of the acquittals of security forces in the Tanjung Priok and
East Timor trials, this court decision perpetuates the cycle of impunity which
consequently seriously prevents the protection and promotion of human rights
in Indonesia.

6. Given the above developments, it is understandable that the younger generation
of Papuans widely use the term "genocide" to express their fears of extinction
due to the lack of political will from the government to protect their existence.
The existing legal instruments, the judicial system and the practices of
the state apparatus have proved to protect only the interests of the perpetrators
of human rights abuses and deny justice to indigenous Papuans.

7. The situation in Papua remains unsettled. At the beginning of 2006 the political
situation in Papua drew international attention when 43 people seeking
asylum arrived in Cape York, Australia, emphasizing the military threat Papua.
It is feared that increased militarization of Papua will result as a reaction to the
fact that these people have sought asylum. Almost at the same time, 12 Papuan
people were arbitrarily arrested in Timika without proper documentation and
charged with the murder of two American and one Indonesian teacher.

8. Throughout the year, Papuans have continued to feel unprotected and thus
repeatedly use the term genocide to describe their life-threatening situation
although in a technical-legal sense, the use of this terminology requires further
investigation. The recently released report of the East Timorese Commission
for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation provides a detailed and credible analysis
of the systematic conduct of the Indonesian military towards civilian populations.
The report details abuses by the Indonesian military which are similar
to the abuses occurring in Papua.

Economic and social rights

9. Similarly, in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, the government
continues to fail to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans over their rich
natural resources. The police operation to combat illegal logging, which commenced
in May 2005, revealed the fact that millions of dollars' worth of timber
has been illegally appropriated from Papua each month, which deprives
Papuans of a major source of income and an important environmental resource.
Moreover, NGO and media reports which exposed the crimes revealed links
to officials in Indonesia and governments of other countries such as China.
The power and control of these parties have prevented indigenous Papuans
from challenging these powerful allegiances. Similarly, it is also reported that
the marine resources are also in high risk of depletion due to the illegal fishing
industries that deprive indigenous Papuans of their livelihood. The government
is not able to control this problem.

10. Despite the industrious reaction to Avian flu in the western part of Indonesia,
the government has not made significant progress to combat the HIV and
AIDS epidemic in Papua, which is ranked the second highest rate in Indonesia.
Trafficking of persons, especially women, and alcohol abuse which largely contributes
to the rampant prevalence, remain unchecked. The whole policy is
limited to looking after the patients and is not targeting the root causes of the
problem and its contributing factors.

11. The influx of migrants from other parts of the country is beyond the local government's
control. With more developed skills, education and capital, these
migrants dominate the workplace particularly in urban centres and leave the
indigenous Papuans little space in the government sector. This situation only
increases the feelings of exclusion among the indigenous Papuans and increasingly
fuels anti-migrant sentiment. This practice appears contrary to the existing
legal framework under the Special Autonomy Law which allows affirmative
policies to protect Papuan's interests. Indigenous Papuans and particularly
women do not have full access to the economic sector even at the lowest levels.

12. Rich in natural resources, Papua sustains much of the economy of Indonesia,
as the province is ranked the third highest in terms of income. However, the
Papuans enjoy little benefit from the various mining operations nor the logging
and fishing industry as the income is not invested in public services. For
example, Freeport McMoRan operates the world's largest copper and gold
mine. It acknowledged that nearly 20 million dollars was paid between 1998
and 2004 to the military that protect their mining site in Tembagapura. This
operation illustrates the impoverishment of Papuans due to the uncontrollable
extraction of natural resources that only benefit the elite.

13. At the end of 2005, the media widely publicized the danger of starvation in
the newly-established District of Yahukimo in the Central Highlands. Firstly,
this situation was not caused by a natural disaster but it was closely related
to the political situation, concerning the election of Regent in this particular
area last year. Many people were drawn into the politics surrounding the election
and their primary job of food production in their gardens was neglected.
Consequently, their cycle of food production was significantly disrupted, to
the extent that they were forced to consume foods from the forest. This situation
was exacerbated by the high rainfalls which caused natural disasters.

Peace initiatives

14. Despite the ongoing conflict, various elements of the Papuan community have
undertaken peace initiatives to address conflict and build peace. Inter alia, the
religious leaders are the most articulate in building peace by taking part in
dialogues with the government and the police. These leaders have also organized
a march for peace on 21 September every year to educate the public on
the dangers of using religious sentiment to provoke conflict among different
elements in the Papuan community. However, to date this remains largely the
project of the religious leaders and has not been fully supported by the government,
the police and the military.


15. Given this situation, we appeal to the UN Commission on Human Rights to:

a. Take any necessary measures to protect the life of the indigenous Papuans
in Indonesia;

b. Request that the Government of Indonesia fulfill its international obligations
pursuant to the ICCPR and ICESCR, as the Indonesian Parliament
recently ratified the two covenants;

c. Request the Government of Indonesia to extend a standing invitation to
the CHR thematic special procedures and to grant them full access to places,
groups and individuals.

We reiterate our concerns to the Government of Indonesia to:

• Take any necessary measures to protect the life of indigenous Papuans;
• Genuinely respect the lives of the indigenous Papuans and to treat them as
equal citizens with full access to all legal instruments;
• Engage in a constructive dialogue with the indigenous Papuans in order
comprehensively to solve the conflict in a peaceful manner as has been done
with Aceh;
• Mainstream the ICCPR and ICESCR within all national legislation;
• Mainstream the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
to all national legislation;
• Mainstream human rights education in the curriculum of the police and
military academy;
• Encourage the Indonesian military in Papua to adopt and fully participate
in the "Papua: Land of Peace" programme, sponsored by the major religious
leaders of Papua.