Papua activists say don’t elect human rights violator as president

Source – June 21, 2014
Activists from the Movement Against Forgetting speak at the LBH offices in Jakarta - April 25, 2014 (Antara)
Activists from the Movement Against Forgetting speak at the LBH offices in Jakarta - April 25, 2014 (Antara)

Kursi Istana, Jayapura – Human rights activists and organisations have launched the Movement Against Forgetting in Papua. The activists are calling on the Papuan people not to vote for a presidential candidate that has a track record of human rights violations.

“In several days, we along with a number of activists and human rights non-government organisations in the land of Papua will launch the Movement Against Forgetting in the context of welcoming democratic transition in Indonesia. At the same time [we will] call on the Papuan people not to vote for the wrong president in the coming presidential election”, said Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) Executive Director Poengky Indarti in the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura on Friday June 20.

According to Indarti, many cases of human rights violations have taken place in Papua including violations of civil and political rights in the form of restrictions on the freedom of expression, violence against civilians linked to the stigma of separatism, widespread cases of shootings along with past human rights violations such as the Mapenduma case in 1996, the Wamena case in 1977 and the Bela Alama case, which has already been forgotten.

“Obviously this will be a hard lesson for the president that is election on July 9, so in order to bring about a quality presidential election resulting in the best president, we are thus calling on the people in Papua not to vote for a presidential candidate with a track record of human rights violations”, she asserted.

With regard to the next president and vice president meanwhile, Indarti is hoping that they will be able to assist in resolving the conflict in Papua by means of a more humanitarian approach. “We also hope that the president that is elected can resolve the conflict in Papua through peaceful means and dialogue, along with a commitment to respect, uphold and protect human rights”, she explained.

Also speaking in Jayapura meanwhile, the recipient of the 2009 Yap Thiam Hiem human rights award, Pastor John Jonga, called on the Papuan people not to forget the human rights violations that have occurred in Papua. On the hostage release case in Mapenduma on May 13, 1996 for example, there followed a military attack that resulted in the killing of eight civilians and several villages in the area being burnt to the ground.

“After the military attack, Mapenduma was declared a military operational zone, the aftermath of which was various human rights violations, several military officers must be held accountable, including [presidential candidate] Prabowo Subianto”, he asserted.

Papuan human rights activists insist that the Movement Against Forgetting is not a black campaign, but has been running for 16 years. “Even though the timing coincides with the presidential election campaign, this is just a coincidence and not a black campaign against a particular presidential candidate. The movement has no connection with politics”, he explained. (Ado)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]