New Guinea rights call: CEN 1.18.08 p 6. January 17, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, Free Speech, House of Lords.
In July the NGO, Human Rights Watch, accused the Indonesia of mounting a campaign of repression including extrajudicial executions, torture and rape against Papuan separatists. A November report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture also recorded instances of police misconduct.
“Conditions in Papua’s Central Highlands are an important test of how Indonesia’s security forces perform when political tensions are high and regions are closed to outside observers,” said Joseph Saunders, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “The police are failing that test badly.”
“No one is being prosecuted for the crimes we documented,” Mr. Saunders said. “The police are acting as a law unto themselves.”
The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua are closed to the press and outside aid agencies. It has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by guerrillas of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM). The guerrillas have mounted a series of hit and run raids in recent years on the Indonesian security forces, who have responded by conducting anti-terrorist sweeps through remote jungle villages suspected of providing sanctuary to the OPM.
The former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries asked the government what measures it had taken to “promote peaceful dialogue between West Papuan leaders and the Government of Indonesia;” what it had done in response to published reports by the UN and Human Rights NGO’s “on the use of torture by Indonesian security personnel in West Papua;” and whether it would press Jakarta to “freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly” and allow the West Papuans to fly their flag in public.
Speaking on behalf of the government, the Foreign Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN Lord Malloch-Brown responded on Jan 8 that the British government endorsed the call for dialogue and had queried Indonesian government leaders about the “situation in Papua, including human rights.”
The government also welcomed the UN’s November 2007 report on West Papua and looked forward to the final report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr Manfred Novak. However, the UN’s initial findings were that “notwithstanding the very real concerns about treatment of detainees,” Indonesia had “come a long way in recent years and is trying to make positive progress on human rights,” Lord Malloch-Brown said.
Britain “supports the territorial integrity of Indonesia and therefore does not support independence for Papua,” Lord Malloch-Brown said, and would not press Jakarta on the question of flying the Papuan flag.