Papuan Tribal Council & Human Rights Abuses

Apr 14th, 2006, in News, by

The Papuan Tribal Council has demanded the establishment of an independent fact finding team to investigate human rights abuses that have taken place in Papua.

The council’s spokesman, Welly Mandowen, said the task of probing rights violations in Papua was too much to be left in the hands of the existing human rights commission.

The existing commission can’t do its job properly as we know that its members don’t have the capacity to conduct even the simplest of investigations.

Mandowen told the House of Representatives Commission on Defence and Foreign Affairs.

Mandowen further said that a thorough investigation of the human rights abuses that have taken place in Papua since its incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 would be helpful in finding a lasting solution to the numerous problems affecting the area.

The Papuan Tribal Council was invited by the Commission to brief its members on the latest developments in the region, in the wake of a new crisis sparked by the fleeing of dozens of Papuans to Australia to seek asylum.

Ten members of the Commission are expected to leave soon for Australia to discuss the Australian government’s decision to grant asylum to the Papuans. The meeting in Papua was part of the commission’s effort to collect information before their departure.

Mandowen said that if necessary the rights investigation team could consist of foreign observers to guarantee objectivity of future probes on rights violations in resource rich Papua.

If foreign observers could be invited to monitor peace in Aceh, why not in Papua?

Mandowen said.

He said given the independence of the proposed team, a result from the investigation would be authoritative enough to confirm or deny any claims of rights violations.

The government has only made a statement saying there is no genocide in Papua, but what is their legitimate proof?

There is already a local representative office of the National Commission on Human Rights in Papua, led by activist Alberth Rumbekwan.

Aside from what is seen as an unfair exploitation of their natural resources, another source of resentment among the Papuan people are the gross human rights violations that have gone on for years, frequently committed by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police. Papuans have questioned the commitment of the central government to punishing those accused of committing rights violations after a number of military officers were exonerated in human rights trials.

Late last year, a rights tribunal set up in Makassar, South Sulawesi, acquitted a police officer accused of failing to stop human rights violations in Abepura. The same court has also acquitted a senior police officer of the Jayapura Mobile Brigade who was accused of ordering a revenge attack against Papuans.

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