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Hundreds of Papuans rally as independence leaders declare provisional government on road to independence from Indonesia

SBS News - December 1, 2020

The ULMWP says the fledgling provisional government is supported by all of West Papua's liberation groups.

Up to 70 per cent of West Papuans have signed a petition rejecting Jakarta's attempt to extend funding for so-called Special Autonomy provisions that were first introduced to the provinces in 2001.

The petition was delivered to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by the ULMWP in 2019.

The Special Autonomy law, which is set to expire next year, was supposed to give Papua and West Papua a greater share of revenue from their rich natural resources, along with greater political autonomy.

But pro-independence protesters have said the law is being used to repress their movement, and has failed to bring protection and empowerment for Papuans.

'Escalating unrest and violence'

The declaration comes as the United Nations warned of escalating violence in the provinces in recent weeks and months.

In a statement on 30 November, UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said she was "disturbed" by escalating violence, along with reports that both armed and nationalist militia are actively involved in it.

In one incident on 22 November, she said a 17-year-old was shot dead and another injured in an alleged shootout in the Gome District of West Papua.

In September and October, there was a "disturbing series of killings" of at least six people – including activists, churches and non-Indigenous residents – that involved at least two security forces members, she added.

An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission found one church worker, Reverend Yerimia Zanambani, a pastor of the Protestant Evangelical Church, may have been killed by members of the security forces, and that his killing was just one "of a series of violence occurring across the regency throughout this year".

The UN has also received reports of at least 84 arrests, including Wensislaus Fatuban – a well-known human rights defender and advisor to the Papuan People's Council, known as the Majeli Rakyat Papua or the MRP.

She said there was further escalation in August 2019, when anti-racism protests and widespread violence erupted in Papua following the detention and "discriminatory treatment' of Papuan students in Java.

"We urge the Government of Indonesia to uphold people's rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in line with its international obligations, particularly ahead of 1 December, when there are often protests, tensions and arrests," Ms Shamdasani said.

"We also call on the authorities to pursue thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence, in particular killings, and for all perpetrators - regardless of their affiliations - to be held accountable."

– With Reuters.

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hundreds-of-papuans-rally-as-independence-leaders-declare-provisional-government-on-road-to-independence-from-indonesi