UN demands probe into Indonesian treatment of Papuans

JAKARATA, 22 FEBRUARY 2019 (THE AUSTRALIAN) – United Nations human rights experts have demanded an independent probe into “alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans” by Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights has highlighted what it says is a culture of impunity among security forces in the provinces.

The demand comes a fortnight after a video went viral showing a handcuffed Papuan youth being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body, and as the UN group negotiates with the Indonesian government for access to the restive provinces.

There have also been reports this week that hundreds of students have fled fighting between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in the highlands district of Nduga, following the December massacre of 16 government workers.

The video showed an indigenous youth, arrested on February 6 on suspicion of having stolen a mobile phone, yelling in fear while police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

In a statement released on Thursday night the UN said the case reflected a “widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua”.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police.”

The group of five UN experts includes the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples; torture cruel and inhumane treatment; on the situation of human rights defenders; on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; as well as the chairman of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Papuan police have publicly apologised for the incident, and said an officer involved had been investigated and suspended for ethical violations.

But, the UN group has said prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

“We urge the government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account,” it said.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua.”

Papuan police commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal told The Australian there was “no such thing as a culture of impunity, racism or excessive use of force” in the local police force, and it was an “exaggeration” to say there was systemic use of torture and racism towards indigenous Papuans.

“We always use force proportionally, we treat every citizen of Papua equally,” General Kamal said.

“We provide services and protection and enforce the law equally, regardless of race and religion, including investigating one of our own officers. This was an isolated incident and the officer has been punished.”

Human rights groups have long-accused successive Indonesian governments of sanctioning the violent suppression of Papua and West Papua’s independence movements, fearing their success could encourage similar movements in other provinces.

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has estimated more than 10,000 people were killed in Papua and West Papua during the 32-year Suharto era which ended in 1998.

An Amnesty International report last year found security forces were responsible for 95 extra-judicial killings in the two Papua provinces over the past eight years — almost one a month.

While The Netherlands granted Indonesia independence in 1949 it held onto Papua until 1962 when it ceded control of the province to the UN.

Indonesia was granted de facto control the following year and in 1969 conducted the so-called Act of Free Choice referendum in which 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military voted to determine the political status of the province.

Source: Fijitimes.com

Revision of French Polynesia autonomy statute approved

PAPE’ETE, 22 FEBRUARY 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) – The French Senate has fully approved a revision of French Polynesia’s autonomy statute.

The reform is contained in two laws which have finally been adopted unanimously after being voted on last week.

The new statute gives official recognition to French Polynesia’s contribution to France developing its nuclear deterrent.

It states that consequences of the tests have to be taken into account in every sphere.

The revision of the statute now goes to a vote in the National Assembly.

French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch said the main point in revising the statute was to calm domestic and international opinion about the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

He said the nuclear issue was also being talked about a lot at the United Nations which six years ago returned French Polynesia onto the decolonisation list.

France carried out 193 nuclear weapon tests in the South Pacific between 1966 and 1996.

Source: FIJITimes.com

UN experts call for Indonesia to investigate violence against Papuans

A group of UN human rights experts is calling for urgent investigations into alleged killings and other abuses of Papuans by Indonesian police and military.

It follows outcry by human rights advocates at a video circulated online of police using a live snake to interrogate a Papuan man who was arrested for allegedly having stolen a mobile phone.

The police later apologised for the incident and the officers involved were reportedly disciplined.

On Thursday, the UN experts, including four UN special rapporteurs and one rapporteur, said the case reflects a widespread pattern of violence and torture by Indonesian police and military.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders,” they added.

“This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police.”

They said Indonesia should take urgent action to prevent excessive fore and hold those responsible to account.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” the experts said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has told local media she will campaign for Indonesia’s candidacy for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A snake being used to interrogate a prisoner in Papua

The man being interrogated by Indonesian police, with the snake around his neck Photo: Twitter/ Free West Papua

Source: RadioNZ

Govt has no intention to take local land: Minister

By HELEN TARAWA, the National PNG
THE Government has no intention to take away customary land from its owners, Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Justin Tkatchenko says.
Speaking at the opening of the Southern Region Lands Summit workshop in Port Moresby yesterday, Tkatchenko, pictured, said: “We (the Government) are here to listen to you and hear how we can resolve some of the issues that we are now facing when it comes to customary land.

“This summit is just about customary land; it’s about getting it right.
“This is your forum today, this is about going through the subject matter and how government should improve on the laws and regulations of customary land in Papua New Guinea.”

Tkatchenko said the summit was an opportunity to strengthen Incorporated Lands Groups (ILGs) to make it more significant when it came to registering customary land.

He said the last Land summit was in 2005 and that was a broad spectrum of topics but this summit would focus on customary land issues in the four regions.

“We will have our national Lands Summit in May where all our ideas, suggestions and thoughts are put together as one to reform and to change customary land laws, regulations for the benefit of our landowners now and into the future,”

Tkatchenko said.

Kairuku-Hiri MP Peter Isoaimo said the workshop was an eye-opener for many of the landowners in the National Capital District and the district.
“People need to suggest to the Government how we can address their issues by way of accommodating their interest in the new legislations,” Isoaimo said. “We sympathise that a lot of them have land issues backdating to the last 20 to 30 years.

“But the procedures and processes need to be redefined in the Lands Department to allow people to have access to registering their portions of land.”



Sope Calls for Lini Compensation, No to Sale of Passport

Barak Sope

One of the Leaders of the Independence struggle, Barak Sope made two important calls to the Government on the 20th Anniversary of Lini Day at Saralana Stage in Port Vila yesterday. 

The first is for the Government to recognise the suffering of Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister, late Father Walter Lini had suffered and consider paying compensation to his family.

The second is for the Government stop selling our national identity – the Vanuatu Passport to outsiders.

Sope says when the then New Hebrides National Party (NHNP which became VP on independence) was born at Owen Hall in 1974, Father Walter Lini was elected its President and he (Barak Sope) its Secretary General.

Sope labels Father Walter Lini as the “unifying force” in the struggle for almost ten years against the policies and politics of not one superpower but two superpowers, namely Britain and France.

He says through his close association with Father Lini, he was able to take part in the NHNP boycott of the first political election that the two colonial powers had attempted to organise on November 29 of 1978.

“The two colonial powers France and England went to the polls with other parties, especially Union Communite de Nouvelles Hebrides (UCNH) on that day but NHNP boycotted it and instead established what was called People’s Provisional Government. There was no election on November 29 and the boycott by the NHNP was successful and achieved its objective”, he confirms.

It was after this that the two colonial powers came to recognise the power held by Father Walter Lini and the NHNP.

A communique came all the way from London and Paris to advise Father Lini to travel to the two Capital Cities in the West to talk about Freedom and Independence for the New Hebrides.

November 29 which is a public holiday today is called Unity Day. The truth is that before and after November 29 1978, the New Hebrides was divided.

“I followed Father Walter Lini to Paris and London and Father Lini agreed with the two colonial powers to organise the writing of the Constitution in 1979. The story of the Constitution is long so I won’t talk about it today”,

he says.

In 1980, Father Walter Lini became the first Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the brand-new nation called Republic of Vanuatu.

“To complete the work that the two of us had started before Independence, he appointed me as his First Secretary, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Roving Ambassador of Vanuatu”, Sope explains.

“Between 1980 and 1983, we established diplomatic relations with 40 different countries.

“Before ending my address, let me stress two important areas that Father Lini stood up for.

“The first one is education. When you look at the leaders in the Government, you will agree that they are highly educated and almost all of them are degree holders. God and politics chose them. Father Walter Lini was a highly-educated person who studied in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

“As for me, I was educated in Australia, at USP in Fiji and England. Without our high education, it would be a struggle to achieve our Independence because with our qualifications, we were able to communicate with leaders of different countries, church leaders and custom chiefs in our islands towards our struggle for our freedom and independence.

“The other area is our struggle for our national identity which Father Lini stood firm for to achieve was the importance to have our own passport.

“The passport of Vanuatu is the cornerstone in the struggle for freedom for Vanuatu. It has custom, church and political elements involved to achieve our identity as a people and an independent nation.

“Before 1980 we were the only ones without a passport. We struggled to win our identity in 1980.

“Today our Government is selling our Vanuatu Passport in the world. Prior to independence we referred to the importance of owning our passport as a blood connection towards our freedom. We spoke at the United Nations and Commonwealth about the need for us to have our own passport.

“Today the UN, England, France and other member countries are laughing at us because our Government is selling our passport which is the identity of the people of Vanuatu.

“Father Walter Lini and many of us, who fought for our freedom to own our passport, stand firm on our focus for the Government of today not to sell our identity to other peoples because we struggled hard to achieve it.”

He said Father Lini had sacrificed so much until he passed away but it seems this is not recognised. 

“Father Lini was in America on official duty when he had a stroke. Our Government has never paid him any compensation, never. I am asking the Government to consider completing its duty because Father Lini had sacrificed his entire life to the end for the benefit of the people of Vanuatu”.

Barak Sope who worked closely with Father Lini says he was terminated from VP in 1988 over the Port Vila Urban Land Corporation issue.

In an internal power struggle, Father Lini was terminated from VP in 1990 after 17 years at the helm as President of VP.

After suffering a stroke in America, Father Lini continued to walk with difficulty and finally passed away at his home at Ohlen on February 21 in 1999.

Source; Vanuatu Daily Post

Lini Day Celebration to Focus on Nationalism

The Lini Day celebration on Thursday, February 21 will focus on the importance of nationalism, says committee Chairman, Charles Lini.

The 2019 commemoration will mark 20 years when Vanuatu’s First Prime Minister, Father Walter Hadye Lini passed away in Port Vila and a committee was established headed by the son of late Fr Walter Lini, Charles to organize the 21st celebration.

“Since then, memorial services have always been organized by the Anglican Church in Port Vila or families,” he said.

“It is now 20 years, and we thought it should be an open celebration by everyone and the significance of representing nationalism.”

Mr Lini said that it will be a 2-day event, beginning with a parade on February 20th from Independence Park to the celebration venue at Saralana.

“The theme of the celebration is ‘Celebrating Lini Legacy with wisdom in Kastom, Church and Politics’ so the activities during the event revolves around the theme,” he said.

“We will have entertainment from church groups, custom performances, debates involving schools and official speeches from guest speakers.”

A mini photo exhibition in his memorial will be set up at the museum as it’s done annually to commemorate the 20th year of his passing away.

Mr Lini stressed that prior to Independence, the people of Vanuatu were then ‘stateless’ until the forefathers made the decision that this country has to make its own decisions.

“The idea of nationalism was born and today we have a nationality, so we are celebrating not just the person but the idea of nationalism and that we are proud of national identity,” he said.

“Our guest speaker of the day (21st) will be the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai on behalf of the Vanuatu government and speeches as decided by the committee will be based on the past, the present and future of this country in nationalism.”

Father Walter Lini was a priest, a politician and a high ranking custom chief of Pentecost and PENAMA Province.

fern@dailypost.vu

Video of Papuan suspect being tortured with snake goes viral

A video showing two police officers torturing a Papuan man with snake during detention has gone viral after being published on the online platform YouTube. The video received more than 83.000 views after Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman shared the video on her Twitter account, claiming that Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) faced a similar torture technique after being arrested last month.

Koman further explained that the torture has features of racism given the pattern of the persecution in Papua.

The video shows a handcuffed Papuan man sitting on the floor in front of a wall while two police officers attempt to force a confession from the suspect.

The officers threaten the man to put the reptile in his mouth and trousers if he would not confess the alleged theft of a mobile phone. Multiple international media outlets published articles about the abuse.

The police torture allegedly occurred in the highland city of Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua Province.

The spokesman of the Papuan Regional Police, Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, first attempted to downplay the officers’ actions, arguing that the snake was not venomous and that the officers had not beaten the suspect.

As public attention on the case became bigger, officer Kamal announced that the internal police investigation body PROPAM had investigated the case and initiated a code of conduct trial.

Both investigated officers were allegedly relocated to a different police unit. However, the case was not filed to a public court, allowing the perpetrators to get away with minor disciplinary sanctions, if any.

The identity of the suspect and the perpetrators, as well as the detailed circumstances of the torture have not been published.

Source: http://www.humanrightspapua.org

Pacific govts ‘should consider seabed mining impacts’

THE Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) has cautioned Pacific Islands governments to recognise the risks of seabed mining on marine environments, cultures and livelihoods.

PIANGO Executive Director Emele Duituturaga while reaffirming their position in the continued call for a ban on seabed mining said it is becoming increasingly clear that the blue growth narrative by International organisations includes seabed mining despite threats to fisheries and ocean livelihoods in the region.

She said there is greater awareness now that biodiversity and life under the sea will be affected and these minerals that have taken thousands of years to deposit will be extracted without replenishment.

“Therefore we are urging our governments to be responsible on this issue and not make hasty decisions, have a clear understanding of what is involved,” said Ms Duituturaga.

A three-day capacity building workshop is under way on deep seabed mining in Nuku’alofa, Tonga this week as part of a process of preparing countries that are members of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the 1982 UN Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for the ISA’s Regulation on Deep Seabed Mining (DSM) to be put in place in 2020.

The UN-DESA and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) are committed to assist UN member States implement SDG14 focusing on the Blue Economy concept, in particular, Seabed Mining in areas beyond national Jurisdictions – called: ‘The Abyssal Initiative’.

PIANGO is represented at the workshop by Deputy Executive Director Emeline Ilolahia where civil society organization representatives are raising concerns on the environmental and social impacts of seabed mining.

“This workshop is pedalling deep sea mining to our governments but who will benefit?  If mining was the panacea to the economic issues of the Pacific, we’d have solved all our problems long ago.  Instead the environmental and social impacts of mining have made our peoples poorer,”

Ms Duituturaga said.

Source: https://vanuatuindependent.com/

Indonesia: UN experts condemn racism and police violence against Papuans, and use of snake against arrested boy

GENEVA (21 February 2019) – Prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces, say a group of UN human rights experts*.

In the latest reported case, a video was circulated online of a handcuffed indigenous Papuan boy being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body. The boy, who was arrested on 6 February for allegedly having stolen a mobile phone, is heard screaming in fear while the laughing police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

“This case reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua,” the experts said.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police,” they added.

Representatives of the Indonesian police have publicly acknowledged the incident, and apologised for it. However, the UN experts say that prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account,” the experts said.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” the experts stressed.

The incident in which the boy was mistreated comes amid an ongoing military operation in Papua, which became part of Indonesia in 1969 and which has seen the growth of an increasingly vocal pro-independence movement in the past decades.

ENDS

(*) The UN experts: MsVictoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoplesMr. Seong -Phil Hong (Republic of Korea),Chair -Rapporteur, Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionMr.Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland), Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishmentMs E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

The Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Indonesia

For more information and media requests please contact: Ms Julia Raavad (+41 22 917 9288 /jraavad@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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