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Human Rights Day in West Papua Blockaded

Gatherings to remember International Human Rights Day in West Papua Blockaded

Jayapura, Papuan Province, Indonesia – 10 December, 2013

The 10th December may be the International Day of Human Rights as celebrated around the world, however in West Papua in the city of Jayapura at a number of points where crowds gathered at 6am to remember this special date, the streets were immediately blockaded by the Indonesian Police and the crowds dispersed.

In Waena, Jayapura for example the police immediately blockaded a peaceful gathering coordinated by university students with use of an armoured vehicle (barracuda) and 5 armed forces trucks loaded with numbers of forces in the 50’s. With the police blocking the streets all the students could do was to have a few speakers address the crowd inside the campus area and they were prevented from carrying out demonstrations as planned at the Legislative Assembly Offices or the offices of the Commission for Human Rights.

The Head of the Papuan Provincial Police stated to the Papuan Star Newspaper (Bintang Papua) (edition 11 December 2013) that “The Police already organised so the students could rally on International Human Rights Day but the students didn’t want to.” The Head of Police’s statement is an outright public lie as at all points where the students had planned for peaceful gatherings the roads were blockaded by police in full weaponry.

A Catholic Brother who is a candidate to soon become a priest (who needs to remain unnamed for safety reasons) stated “ Tito Karnavian (the Provincial Head of Police) is very cunning and skillful. Ever since he has been in command in Papua there have been many ‘incidents’ happening continuously which are outside legal processes. The voice of the law and the action of those state instruments supposed to ensure the law is upheld are by no means the same. Furthermore, what has been happening in reality and what’s been stated to the media by the Provincial Head of Police is also vastly different. He is constantly coming out with lies! I can’t understand why he is still being allowed to hold the position of Head of Provincial Police!” The brother continued stating that NGO’s in Papua should take firm steps to have Karnavian removed from that position of command.

The Papuan Provincial Head of Police is totally gagging even the most minimal freedom of speech in public by citizens in the Papuan province. Even on the International day of Human Rights, the Head of Provincial Police and those under him gave not the slightest democratic space to allow people to peacefully remember that special day. The real truth of what’s happening here and especially in the city of Jayapura needs to be made known. The Indonesian armed forces have intentionally created like ‘a dead city’, with the police intentionally making the people terrified to speak out due to the constant displays of police full weaponry every way one looks. We cannot keep silent about the oppressive conditions in Papua that have been and continue to be intentionally created. It’s like they aim to make the Papuan culture like that of a population that is mute.

All sectors of the Papuan community including the different religions, NGO’s, customary organisations, youth, students, women and academics, need to urge the DPRP (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua – Papuan Provincial Legislative Assembly) to facilitate a bringing together of all parties involved to reduce the present rigidity in the lack of democratic space in Papua. We also appeal to the international community, whether individuals, NGO’s or government organizations, to as a matter of urgency urge Indonesia and especially the Head of Papuan Provincial Police and the Territorial Military Commander for the Cenderawasih region, to give some democratic space in Papua.


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