Human rights investigation team formed in Papua

Kompas – July 21, 2003
Komnas HAM deputy chairperson Salahuddin Wahid (Repubika)
Komnas HAM deputy chairperson Salahuddin Wahid (Repubika)

Jakarta -– The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has formed a Human Rights Investigation Team in [West] Papua. The team, which made up four members, is headed Saafroeddin Bahar, will begin work next August to investigate a number of reports which have been received by Komnas HAM of suspected cases of human rights violations in Papua.

According to the vice-chairperson of Komnas HAM, Salahuddin Wahid, the reports received by Komnas HAM cannot be ignored. Komnas HAM has an obligation to study, investigate and seek out as much information as possible about the cases. “We do not want the many cases [of human rights violations] which have occurred in Papua to be ignored”, explained Salahuddin last Thursday (17/7).

He explained that the investigation or study of the cases of human rights violations which have occurred in Aceh or Papua, does not mean that Komnas HAM supports separatism. Komnas HAM [only] wants to protect the upholding of human rights where ever [violations are occurring]. “We want to work professionally and impartially. We are also nationalists”, he said.

Salahuddin agrees that separatist movements violate the law and action must be taken against them. However, in taking such action, it cannot violate human rights.

To date, Komnas HAM has received [reports of] a minimum of seven cases of suspected human rights violations in Papua. These reports were submitted by [the organisation] National Solidarity for Papua.

Checking with the military

The Papua cases which have been received by Komnas HAM include cases of violence against residents of Wasior (Manokwari), Kimaam (Merauke) and Wamena (Jayawijaya). Other cases include the murder of the chairperson of the Papua Presidium Council, Theys Hiyo Eluay, the shooting of the family of a human rights activist in Wutung (on the boarder between Indonesian and Papua New Guinea), the shooting in Timika (Mimika) which killed two American nationals and an Indonesian, and thousands of cases concerning Papua refugees in Vanimo Kiungga who have yet to obtain “refugee” status from the PNG government.

“These reports were received several months ago. The team will [begin by] studying the reports that have come in. Because they are from a non-government organisation, [we therefore] must also check with other parties, such as the TNI [Indonesian military], the national police and residents at the location where the [incidents] occurred”, explained Salahuddin. (LAM)

[Translated by James Balowski.]