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Letter to Mary Robinson, (UNHCHR)

3 January 2001


Received from CamPeace (England)

Dear friends,

below is the final text of the letter we sent to Mary Robinson on the 3rd of January 2001.

Nick Angelopoulos

1 January 2001
Mrs Mary Robinson
United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10,

Dear Mrs Robinson,

We are writing to you out of concern for the serious human rights violations in West Papua (Irian Jaya). On 1 December, West Papuans commemorated the day in 1961 when the Dutch administration re-named the territory West Papua and ordained a national flag and anthem. In the approach to the 1st of December, Indonesian police arrested 4 foremost civil-society leaders and members of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP), while a fifth member was arrested on the 4th of December. The five remain in detention and are Theys H. Eluay (chairman), Thaha Al Hamid (secretary-general), Jhon Mambor, Rev Herman Awom and Don A.L. Flassy. They have been charged with subversion/treason under Indonesian laws 106/110 dating from the Suharto years, carrying a penalty of life-sentence. We regard these persons as political prisoners who should be released immediately. They had all been advocates of non-violence and had sought throughout the past year to negotiate a settlement with the Indonesian President Mr Wahid on the withstanding regional issues, including past abuses by the military, land rights and the right of self-determination accorded by the New York Agreement 1962. It is especially ironic that these arrests took place at a time when Indonesia is failing to bring before justice perpetrators of the enormous human rights violations under former dictator Suharto, except for the conviction of two dozen soldiers for a massacre in Aceh. The Indonesian human rights institute KONTRAS in a report published in December identified over 2000 cases of people that died as a result of human rights violations in Indonesia last year. According to KONTRAS, most violations were committed by the Indonesian police. We urge you give this case the serious attention it deserves.

We are also concerned about the numerous other human rights violations that have taken place in West Papua in December. Around the 2nd-3rd of December, 12 Papuans were killed when the police clashed with demonstrators. At least 101 Papuans were arbitrarily arrested in Jayapura and 7 Papuan demonstrators were arrested in Jakarta. Those arrested included women and children as young as 7 and were often beaten, some very seriously. According to the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (ELS-HAM) Elkius Suhuniab (18 years), a high-school student from Yali tribe was summarily executed by Brimob members who raided the student complex at Skyline, Jayapura, on 7 December, at 09.30 am. From the autopsy conducted by Dr.Fredy at the Jayapura General Hospital, death was caused by a bullet. Johny Karrunggu (18 years), a student of STIE Otow Geisler (Economics College) Jayapura and Orry Doronggi (17 years), a high-school student, both from the Nduga tribe, were killed while at Police headquarters (Polres) Jayapura. Autopsies on the two bodies by Jayapura General Hospital revealed their deaths to be the result of beatings and torture. A fourth student was also killed by the police. A further 7 were reported to have been tortured in police custody. The Swiss journalist Oswald Iten, also arrested at the time, reported that at least 35 prisoners were severely beaten and tortured and their faces and bodies were badly disfigured. Johannes Bonai, the director of ELS-HAM was interrogated on the 15/16th of December because of the release of reports of these abuses by the police for 23 hours without sleep.

Sources of the Free Papua Movement further condemned the arrest of 28 civilians in Sorong, West Papua, who were placed in a "Corrective Institute", 6 civilians held in the Merauke Police Station, 8 civilians detained in the Wamena Police Station and 6 civilians detained in police stations in Fakfak/Timika. After a student strike, the chairman of the Papuan Students Alliance was offered money and when he refused he was threatened and mutilated. A further 4 civilians were killed by Indonesian soldiers on the 15th of December and 2 were wounded when the soldiers fired without warning at a flag-raising in Tiom.

These abuses follow recent police crackdowns in Sorong (22 August) and Wamena (6 October), where at least 15 are thought to have been shot dead by the police and scores injured and arrested during similar peaceful flag-raisings. In each case about a dozen became victims of police torture - one was tortured to death. According also to a report by Aaron Maness, a US citizen who was visiting Wamena when the troubles broke out on the 6th of October, the Papuans did not seek confrontation and were unarmed, except for traditional weapons. He also claimed that two children were killed by the police in front of their parents and their bodies torn up and thrown to dogs.

In view of the serious human rights situation in West Papua, we call upon you to press the Indonesian Government to:

  • Respect the right of the people of West Papua to freedom of expression - including the right to peacefully express their desire for independence - and to respond to their demands politically and not militarily.
  • Withdraw the thousands of extra troops and police sent to the province in recent months.
  • Conduct credible investigations into recent and past killings and human rights violations and to ensure that those responsible, including those in a position of command responsibility, are brought to justice in trials which meet international standards of fairness, independence and impartiality.
  • Release all political prisoners and all other persons subject to arbitrary detention.
  • Invite to Indonesia the UN experts on extrajudicial executions, torture and human rights defenders to carry out independent assessments of the human rights situation in West Papua

We also call upon you to:

  • Urge Komnas-HAM (National Commission on Human Rights), Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Women's Rights) and Komnas Perlindungan Anak (National Commission for Child Protection) to visit West Papua to provide protection to victims of human rights violations and to investigate the human rights situation.
  • Use your good offices to raise your concern about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian authorities and to assist with the resolution of the ongoing conflict.
  • Request the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions to follow up in implementation of the recommendations following their visit to Indonesia in 1998.

Yours respectfully,

Cambridge Campaign for Peace (CamPeace) TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights
Campaign Oxford Papuan Rights Campaign (OPRC)
Stichting Studie & informatie Papua Volken (PaVo)

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