Amnesty calls on Australia to discus Papua rights issue with President Widodo

Source – February 10, 2020
Human rights lawyer and activist Veronica Koman (wearing red) – Undated (Facebook)

Dwi Bowo Raharjo and Ria Rizki Nirmala Sari – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is holding bilateral talks during his visit to Australia on February 8-10.

Amnesty International Australia and human rights lawyer Veronica Koman took advantage of the visit to call on the Australian government to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with Widodo.

Koman explained that there are currently 56 Papuans and one non-Papuan activist based in Jakarta who are being detained on charges of treason in seven cities across Indonesia. They are currently undergoing trial and face a jail sentence 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 a press release Monday February 10.

“We are demanding their immediate and unconditional release”, she added.

Joint military and police operations in Nduga regency, Papua province, said Koman, have been taking place since early December 2018. As a consequence of the operations, according to one regency official, as many as 45,000 people or half the regency’s population have fled to neighboring areas.

Meanwhile the Humanitarian Volunteer Team – a local grass-roots community which has been gathering data on victims of the operation – reported on February 2 that some 243 civilians have been killed due to violence by security forces or died of starvation and illness as a consequence of being displaced by the conflict.

“Indonesia must end the operations and immediately withdraw the troops from Nduga regency and Intan Jaya so that the indigenous Papuan population can return to their homes and be free from the continuous feelings of fear”, they said.

Amnesty International Australia 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 is thus 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 “Amnesty International Minta Australia Bahas soal HAM Papua dengan Jokowi”.]