Activists give Widodo list of Papua political prisoners during Canberra visit

Source – February 10, 2020
Human rights lawyer and activist Veronica Koman in Australia – Undated (SBS)

Dany Garjito and Rifan Aditya – Human Rights lawyer and activist Veronica Koman says that data on Papuan political prisoners (tapol) and the names of those who died as a result of military operations in Nduga was handed over to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during his visit to Canberra, Australia.

Based on a press release received by on Monday February 10, Koman is urging the Australian government to discuss human rights violations in Papua with Widodo during the bilateral visit.

“Our team in Canberra succeed in handing over the documents directly to President Jokowi”, said Koman.

The documents, said Koman, contain the names and locations of 57 Papuan political prisoners facing charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) who are currently incarcerated in seven cities across Indonesia.

“We also handed over the names and ages of 243 civilians who have died during the military operations in Nduga [district, West Papua] since December 2018, both those killed by security forces as well as that died of illness and starvation in refugee camps”, she said.

In the written statement, Koman also noted a previous decision by Widodo to release five Papuan political prisoners in 2015.

“But in the start of his second term in office, there are 57 people who have been charged with makar who are currently awaiting trial. This will only worsen the conflict in Papua”, said Koman.

Since December 2018, the Papuan governor, regents, church leaders, traditional community leaders, academics, activists and students have been asking Widodo to withdraw troops from Nduga. Koman claims that the request has never been heeded by the central government.

Earlier, Koman together with Amnesty International Australia also urged the Australian government to raise the human rights situation in West Papua during its meetings with Widodo.

As many as 56 Papuans and one Indonesian national based in Jakarta are being held on charges of treason. They are currently awaiting trial and face sentences of life imprisonment.

“These people were arrested when they were expressing their aspirations during demonstrations against racism and [calling] for an independence referendum in August and September 2019 and during the commemorations of West Papua’s national day on December 1, 2019”, said Koman in the release Sunday February 9.

She explicitly said, “We are awaiting their immediate and unconditional release”.

Amnesty meanwhile stressed that the two countries, Indonesia and Australia, are members of the United Nations Human Rights Council and both have a responsibility to advance human rights.

Amnesty called on Australia to pressure Indonesian to realise its pledge to allow UN human rights investigator to visit and not obstruct access to West Papua.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jokowi Kunjungan ke Australia, Veronica Koman Serahkan Data Tapol Papua”.]