Solomon Islands’ diplomat in Geneva has told the UN Human Rights Council’s 32nd session about an eroding human rights situation in Indonesia’s Papua region.
Barrett Salato told the session that whilst his country welcomes increased attention on West Papua from Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, violations of Papuans’ rights remain unresolved.
Mr Salato said his government received regular reports from Papua of arbitrary arrests, summary execution, torture, restriction of freedom of expression, assembly and association, committed mainly by Indonesian police.
After the session, he said it was important to raise the issue globally.
“It will give the international commmunity some awareness about what’s going on (in Papua),” he said.
“Not much information goes out to the international commmunity about what’s happening so we take it here to the right body of the UN to raise the voices of our fellow human beings that does not have a voice in the human rights council.”
He said what is occurring in Papua was a phenomenon connected with cultural fundamentalism and nationalism seen in other parts of the world.
“In each case, the superiority has triggered the process of dehumanization or delegitimizing of particular groups,” said Mr Kiai in his report.
Barrett Salato pointed out to the Council session that on 2 May 2016 alone, over 2000 West Papuans were arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations in several cities in Papua and eastern Indonesian cities.
“We would encourage the government of Indonesia to find peaceful and sustainable solution of the on-going conflict in West Papua through constructive engagement with the representatives of the West Papuans and respect their right as a people,” he said.
MSG focus on Papuan rights
Solomon Islands is currently occupying the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. In this capacity it has been pushing for increased engagement with Indonesia’s government over the situation in West Papua.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua was granted observer status at the MSG last year and is seeking full membership in the group, with a decision to be made at an upcoming MSG leaders summit in Honiara next month.
Indonesia, which has associate member status in the MSG, has been opposed to greater representation within the group by the ULMWP.
Indonesia’s delegate at last week’s MSG Foreign Ministers meeting in Fiji was reportedly unhappy about having to sit alonside the Liberation Movement representative for discussions.
The MSG Foreign Ministers meeting concluded with agreement to establish a Committee of High Level Representatives of MSG members to facilitate constructive engagement between Jakarta and West Papuans as concernd parties on the issues of rights abuses against Papuans.
Jakarta establishes team to address Papuan rights abuses
Indonesia’s government has been making efforts to respond to the ongoing international concern about rights abuses in West Papua.
While the UN Human Rights Council was discussing Papua in Geneva, Jakarta has been pushing ahead with the establishment of a team tasked with addressing a number of cases of human rights abuses in Papua region.