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Indonesia must allow peaceful protests in Papua, stresses UN rights chief

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
UN Photo/Violaine Martin
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Indonesia must allow peaceful protests in Papua, stresses UN rights chief

The United Nations human rights chief today expressed concern over the recent crackdown on mass demonstrations in Papua, Indonesia this week and called on the Government to allow peaceful protests and hold accountable those responsible for the violence.

“These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “I urge the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses.”

On Tuesday, police reportedly shot and killed two protesters in the city of Sorong who were preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of Papua becoming a part of Indonesia. At least 20 protesters were arrested in the cities of Biak and Timika on 1 May. Many were arrested for raising pro-independence flags.

Ms. Pillay underlined the need for coherent policies and actions to address the underlying concerns and grievances of the local population in Papua. She said that since May 2012, her office has received 26 reports concerning alleged human rights violations, including 45 killings and cases of torture, many of which are linked to law enforcement officials.

“International human rights law requires the Government of Indonesia to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into the incidents of killings and torture and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Ms. Pillay said.

“There has not been sufficient transparency in addressing serious human rights violations in Papua,” she said, urging Indonesia to allow international journalists into Papua and to facilitate visits by the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council.

As of March, at least 20 political prisoners remain in detention in Papua. During her visit to Indonesia in November, Ms. Pillay raised concerns over Papuan activists being imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, and said she was disappointed by continued arrests.

Ms. Pillay encouraged the Governments to implement the recommendations put forward by the National Human Rights Commission, Komnas Ham, and the National Commission on Violence against Women, Komnas Perempuan, regarding freedom of expression, and emphasized the role of these institutions in protecting human rights in the country.