Human rights record in Indonesian province questioned | Connect Asia

Human rights record in Indonesian province questioned

Human rights record in Indonesian province questioned

Updated 18 January 2012, 18:55 AEDT

Indonesia's poorest province, Papua is once again in the spotlight over its human rights record.

Amnesty International has called for an investigation into what it's described as unchecked human rights violations by Indonesian police.

Presenter: Karon Snowdon

Budi Hernawan, the former Director of the Office for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura (Papua).

SNOWDON: The London based Amnesty International addressed its letter to the newly appointed Police Chief for Papua Bekto Suprapto. Its calling for an investigation into human rights abuses by his police force over the last year. Amnesty has joined forces with the Indonesian human rights group Kontras in accusing Indonesian police of unnecessary and excessive use of force against demonstrators, beatings and unlawful killings. They say there are credible witnesses of police killing two men - Melkias Agape who was shot in June and Abet Nego Keiya, whose badly beaten body was found dumped in April.

The claims are the latest from Amnesty whose global report card on human rights in May this year contained similar accusations against security forces in Papua where long prison sentences are regularly handed out to activists. Budi Hernawan, the former Director for Justice and Peace with the Catholic Church in Papua says the situation calls for direct action by the government in Jakarta.

HERNAWAN: Comprehensive thorough dialogue between Papuans and the national government not only to look at the issue of special autonomy but the whole issues of ongoing pattern of human rights abuses, political aspirations, natural resource management, poverty. So the wide range of issues in Papua. .

SNOWDON: Is there any sort of dialogue going on now between the people of Papua and the government in Jakarta, anything at all?

HERNAWAN: No. Papuans have been trying to engage in any discussion with the national government but so far there is no sign that the national government is willing to engage in any kind of discussion.

SNOWDON: Papuans suffer not just at the hands of the security forces. According to Amnesty International Indonesia has the highest recorded maternal deaths in South East Asia. Most of the estimated 19,000 deaths every year occur in remote areas and among Indigenous People.

Budi Hernawan says not since the time of President Abdurahman Wahid has any Indonesian leader shown a real interest in resolving Papuan concerns. He says Indonesia's signing of the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is meaningless.

HERNAWAN: I think its been an ongoing pattern of abuses and the last special report on torture reported to the US council earlier this year that the ongoing use of torture particularly and other issues are still there and not really addressed. And also in terms of people raising their voice, with raising the flag for example that's still a big issue. So the ongong pattern of impunity is still there.

SNOWDON: There are no signs that the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is listening to the complaints of Papuans. But he has lots of mail to read. Last month members in the United States Congress wrote to him suggesting he establish a special international commission on Papua similar to the one which led to autonomy in Aceh. Significantly it added a commission was needed not just to discuss autonomy but basic rights like the provision of fresh water and better health care.

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