Tasha Wibawa – An outspoken lawyer wanted by Indonesian police has won a prestigious Australian human rights award for her work in exposing alleged human rights violations in West Papua at "great personal cost".
Veronica Koman was awarded the Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award on Wednesday for documenting and disseminating information about the situation in Indonesia's restive provinces of Papua and West Papua, where recent unrest has killed dozens, injured hundreds and left towns burning.
The accolade recognised Ms Koman for the "courage she has shown to continue to stand up for the human rights of West Papuans ... despite intensifying harassment and intimidation".
It was awarded by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – the peak body for Australian non-government organisations that work overseas and in humanitarian action.
Amid an internet blackout in the troubled region, Ms Koman has regularly uploaded photos, videos and other updates via her social media accounts.
As a result, she was charged by Indonesian police last month with "provoking unrest" and "spreading hoaxes".
Indonesia has also threatened to issue an Interpol red notice to have her extradited.
"Veronica has shone a light on violations of the rights of the West Papuan people at great personal cost," ACFID chief executive Marc Purcell said in a statement.
Mr Purcell said that the Australian Government should provide protection to Ms Koman as a human rights defender and encourage Indonesia to drop all charges against her.
"I feel deeply honoured about it but I actually feel a sort of survivor's guilt," Ms Koman told the ABC.
"Raids targeting indigenous Papuans are still happening almost on a daily basis," she said, adding that some of her friends and clients were facing life imprisonment, having been charged with treason.
Deadly clashes between Papuans and police began after police raided a dormitory of West Papuan students in the city of Surabaya with tear gas in August.
Ms Koman described the subsequent crackdown by security forces as "unprecedented" and "the darkest time in 20 years".
Indonesian aid to the Pacific
The Indonesian Government recently announced the establishment of a new international aid agency to channel development funds to poor countries, including $60 million earmarked for Pacific nations.
Some have criticised the announcement because Indonesia is still a developing country which receives large amounts of aid from other nations, including Australia.
Around 72 million Indonesians continue to live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
Ms Koman believes the aid program will be used primarily as diplomatic tool to silence Pacific states, who have historically been the most vocal international supporters of West Papuan independence.
Australia has urged restraint on all sides, but officially maintains West Papua is part of Indonesia.
It is obligated to have "mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity ... and non-interference in the internal affairs" of Indonesia as per the terms of the Lombok Treaty, which was ratified in 2006.
Last week it was announced that Indonesia will be making a return to the UN Human Rights Council from 2020 to 2022.
"I cannot mention any single human right in West Papua that is not violated," Ms Koman said. "I'll never give up because sooner or later the central Government in Jakarta must address this issue because its not going anywhere."