31 Jul 2008

Number of Papua abuses and related deaths often exaggerated, says researcher

1:49 pm on 31 July 2008

A researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences says that the reported number of deaths and human rights violations in Papua has been overestimated for decades.

Muridan Widjojo's comments follow the decision by Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into alleged human rights violations in Papua between 1963 and 2002.

The probe will focus on alleged atrocities by Indonesian security forces against Papuans in Timika and Biak.

Mr Widjojo says that the Commission must investigate the role of non-state parties, including separatist rebel groups and foreign institutions, in alleged rights abuses.

He says this has previously been overlooked, resulting in biased and unbalanced reports, including that up to two hundred thousand Papuans have been killed since the 1960s.

"Indonesian state security apparatus are responsible to the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Papua. What I criticise is the overestimation of the numbers, hundreds of thousands... for me, we need more valid data to make the estimation of the numbers."

Muridan Widjojo