Devina Halim, Jakarta – Lawyer and human rights activist Veronica Koman says that today’s statement by Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD will only deepen the Papuan people’s wounds.
Earlier, Mahfud referred to data on Papuan political prisoners and civilians killed in Nduga, which were handed over to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during his visit to Canberra on Sunday, as “rubbish”.
The document contained data on 57 political prisoners as well as 243 civilian victims who have been killed in Nduga regency, Papua, since December 2018.
“However I’m still very disappointed, bearing in mind this will deepen the wounds of the Papuan people”, Koman told Kompas.com on Tuesday February 11.
She claimed however not to be surprised by Mahfud’s statement.
Koman recalled a statement by Mahfud last year when he said there have been no cases of human rights (HAM) crimes during Widodo’s first five years in office. According to Koman, Mahfud’s statement also hurt the ordinary’s people’s feelings.
“Remember that before he once issued a statement which hurt the ordinary people’s feelings, namely that there has not been one HAM violation during Jokowi’s era, so actually it’s not too surprising when statements such as come out of his mouth”, she said.
Koman is of the view that is difficult for victims to obtain justice because human rights violations are not acknowledged by the government. This, she said, show that the human rights situation is becoming worse.
“Never mind obtaining justice, they won’t even admit there has been a single violation. This statement indicates the increasingly bleak human rights situation under [Widodo]”, she said.
Moreover, following Mahfud’s statement, Koman admitted to being pessimistic that the government will withdraw security forces from Papua. She feels this way even though data on alleged victims of the military operations in Papua has already been given to Widodo.
“I’m not indeed too optimistic, but at last now we know, that the military operations in Nduga will continue but not because President Jokowi doesn’t know there are a growing number of victims”, said Koman.
“The supreme military command of this country already knows, but the operations will continue, will then the Papuan people still be asked to put their hopes in Pak [Mr] Jokowi?”, she asked.
As has been reported, Mahfud made a statement earlier in response to the documents handed over to Widodo in Canberra by Koman and other activists, which he referred to as “rubbish”.
“It’s, what do you say, if indeed they exist they’re just rubbish”, said Mahfud at the Presidential Palace in Bogor on Tuesday afternoon.
Mahfud, who accompanied Widodo to the Land of the Kangaroo, also said he did not know if the documents had really been handed over directly to the head of state.
Mahfud said this is because there were many people competing with each other to greet him and hand over letters and documents to Widodo.
Earlier, Koman said that the documents were handed over to Widodo when he visited Canberra, Australia, on Monday February 10.
“Our team in Canberra succeeded in handing the documents over directly to President Jokowi. The documents contained the names and locations of 57 Papuan political prisoners who have been charged with makar (treason, subversion, rebellion), who are currently incarcerated in seven cities across Indonesia”, said Koman in a press release received by Kompas.com on Tuesday February 11.
“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.
Koman also noted a previous decision by Widodo to release five Papuan political prisoners during his first term in office 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.
Koman also questioned what Widodo will do in response to requests for troops to be withdrawn from Nduga.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Dokumennya Disebut Sampah oleh Mahfud MD, Veronica Koman: Ini Memperdalam Luka”.]