Rights group describes Indonesian state hypocrisy in Papua
The head of Indonesia's leading human rights organisation, KONTRAS, has described how the nation is in a type of denial about festering rights issues in Papua region.
The head of Indonesia's leading human rights organisation has described how the nation is in a type of denial about festering rights issues in Papua region.
Haris Azhar, the co-ordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, or KONTRAS, says there has been no improvement in the area of rights in Papua since president Joko Widodo took office in 2014.
Mr Azhar told Johnny Blades that Indonesia's security forces remain stuck in the past in their attitude towards West Papuans and their conduct in the region.
HARIS AZHAR: A lot of forces from Indonesian government send their own team or troops, keep sending them to Papua. You know intelligence have their own operations. The military consists of so many units, also go to Papua or sitting there. And they have a good reason to be there: Papua has the longest land border to the other countries. Police also keep planning, doing the operations in Papua. So securitisation with no good co-ordination and consolidations are there. And the way they think about Papua, the way they assess Papua, has no new ground to be applied in Papua. So there's no shift in paradigm on how to see Papua. Therefore this Papua still suffer as all times before. And also you can imagine that the victims now.. I just checked the data in my office. It showed the number last year of more than 1,200 people suffer from harassment, killings, torture and ill-treatment. We haven't put the other issues into this number - the economic and social rights issues.
JOHNNY BLADES: Are any of those cases brought to court? Do the perpetrators of these abuses or beatings or tortures, do they ever get held accountable?
HA: No, no, no. Some of them being arrested and tortured, and the police apply most of the cases as a crime. So those people who were arrested, they will be brought into the court - some of them, not all of them.
JB: What typically have they been arrested for, what is it that they have done?
HA: Demonstrations, these kind of things. This is common in Papua.
JB: Freedom of expression stuff?
HA: Yeah, so this is against their freedom of expression, freedom of opinions, freedom of assembly, you know, that kind of thing. If you are Papuan and you do these kind of things in Papua, then that is associated with a crime or you are subject to being punished. But if you do these kind of things outside of Papua or you are not a Papuan, the game might be changed, the game might be changed. So this is like a discrimination in the security and law enforcement approach to the Papuans.
JB: Many reports about this stuff over the years. Why is it that the Indonesian parliament, successive governments, they don't seem to change the way the security forces conduct themselves in Papua? Is it because they can't?
HA: No. If we talk about the Papuan government, the local government in Papua at the provincial level or the sub-provinces, they are bound to a dirty politics, a dirty system of politics. So they are at some point paralysed to see how to deal with the security forces which are very powerful - they have guns, they have money, they are supported by some corporations. So to deal with it, for the local government, they prefer to deal and bargain, and co-opt with certain situations. That's why they keep receiving a lot of money, because Papua is allocated a huge number of the state budget from Jakarta. So there's no development for real, infrastructure or social structure have been gone with no evidence in a good way that can be delivered to the public. So they just maintain it. A lot of corruption cases, allegation of corruption cases being spread around among the people. So a lot of people enjoy that kind of thing. And how is Jakarta? Jakarta is too busy with themselves. You know, political bargain, surrounded by the media, so many issues. You know, the issue of Papua is not a priority. They may say it's a priority but this is all the things that they always said: Papua is a priority but we will leave it to them, among the Papuans, to solve the situation. But in terms of the killings, the law enforcement, that is a national problem. That is not a local problem.
JB: I was going to ask you: if Papua is a part of Indonesia, how do Indonesians in the rest of the country feel about their fellow Indonesians being brutalised every year?
HA: This is the hypocrisy of the government, the state and also this country. That looking at Papua, they would not leave Papua to be independent, but they let Papua be ignored. They say leave it behind. They have that kind of way. So, if there is an issue in the media, saying that this small group from Papua, they would like to be independent, and a lot of Indonesians, they're just quiet. And also the government, they just said oh we are the united Indonesia, we will not let anyone to go out from Indonesia. But they do nothing, they say nothing, to make Papuans to be better. I have to say this is crazy.
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