Adi Ahdiat, Jakarta – The Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) says that since the beginning of Indonesian independence up until now, the country has never been free of racist practices.
This assessment is based on the behaviour of security personnel against Papuans that took place several days ago in the East Java city of Malang and the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.
On Thursday August 15 the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) held a protest action in Malang demanding Papuan independence from Indonesia.
The protest ended in a clash with local people and a number of the Papuan students involved were allegedly assaulted by plain-clothed security personnel.
On the next day, Friday August 16, security personnel along with members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Pancasila Youth (PP) besieged a Papuan student dormitory in Papua. Without any clear evidence, the mob accused them of vandalising the national red-and-white flag.
On Saturday police then stormed the dormitory and arrested 43 Papuan students trapped inside.
“(These incidents) are evidence that the disease of racism is still alive in the bodies of the state officials and Indonesian citizens”, said LBH Papua Director Emanuel Gobay in a press release received by KBR on Monday August 19.
According to Gobay, in handling these incidents state officials violated Law Number 40/2008 on the Elimination of Racist and Ethnic Discrimination along with several other criminal regulations.
“In principle, in legal terms, related to national symbols, it’s already clearly regulated under Law number 24/2009. If a state symbol is vandalised, such as a flag, then the procedure is to report the incident to the party concerned, in this case the police”, explained Gobay.
“However based on the facts, rogue TNI [Indonesian military], police, Satpol PP [Public Order Agency officials] and ormas [social or mass organisations], without confirming who the perpetrator was, immediately went to the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya and took the law into their own hands”, he continued.
“Based on the fact that there was violence, these state officials automatically committed a number of criminal acts in succession both collectively as well as individually, such as the crime of vandalism (Criminal Code or KUHP Article 406), a mob attack (KUHP Article 170), assault (KUHP Article 351), and violations against the basic principles of governance under Law Number 28/1999”, explained Gobay in the press release.
Special anti-racist team
Gobay is calling on the government to form a special anti-racism team to address discrimination against indigenous Papuan throughout the territory of Indonesia. He is demanding that the government:
- Record and identify cases of racial discrimination suffered by Papuans wherever they may be, particularly in Malang and Surabaya.
- Record the identity of the perpetrators, the form that the violations took and to pressure law enforcement officials to act in accordance with prevailing laws.
- Report the alleged human rights violations committed by the East Java provincial government against the Papuan students to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and for Komnas HAM to conduct an investigation.
- Urging the East Java provincial government to enact a gubernatorial regulation guaranteeing protection for indigenous Papuan from racist and violent acts in order to implement the mandate of Law Number 40/2008.
Gobay is also urging the government to arrest the perpetrators of these racist acts whether they are from the TNI, police, Satpol PP or ormas.
“Otherwise the sky and earth of Surabaya will be fractured by racism, yet the law must be upheld in the land of shark and the crocodile”, asserted Gobay.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “LBH Papua: 74 Tahun Merdeka, Indonesia Belum Bebas dari Rasisme”.]