Dian Septiari, Jakarta – The government has said it will file a complaint against what it has called an "unprofessional, ill-intentioned and one-sided" report by three United Nations human rights experts on its handling of conflicts in Papua.
Earlier this month, the experts issued a joint statement that called for urgent humanitarian access to Papua and West Papua and for the government to conduct independent investigations into alleged abuses against indigenous communities there.
The statement was published on the website of the UN's human rights body on March 1 and was signed by the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Francisco Cali Tzay; the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz; and the special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary.
In the statement, the special rapporteurs expressed concerns about a deteriorating human rights situation in Papua and West Papua, citing abuses against indigenous Papuans that included child killings, enforced disappearances, torture and the mass displacement of people. "Between April and November 2021, we received allegations indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including of young children, enforced disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment and the forced displacement of at least 5,000 indigenous Papuans by security forces," they wrote.
They estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 people had been displaced since an escalation of violence in Papua and West Papua began in December 2018.
As special procedures mandate holders (SPMHs), the experts are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, which handles investigations and monitoring mechanisms for issues around the world.
They work on a voluntary basis and are not paid by the UN. The special rapporteurs have, on multiple occasions over the past few years, expressed their concerns over the Papua conflict to the UN Human Rights Council and have sent at least 13 official letters to the Indonesian government in the past four years.
The Indonesian mission in Geneva said it had replied to the experts' Dec. 22, 2021, correspondence, which requested a government response to allegations that were later outlined in a published statement on Feb. 20, in accordance with the council's procedure.
The rapporteurs' March 1 statement acknowledged that the government had sent a reply to their latest letter but did not address the reply's contents. The mission claimed the experts' report did not properly take the statements of all parties into account and that this suggested they had worked "unprofessionally, not impartially and with bad intentions". "In response to this, the government will submit a strong protest through [the UN human rights body] for the unprofessional, ill-intentioned, one-sided and click-bait working method in order to establish negative public opinion," the mission said in a statement received by The Jakarta Post.
Indonesia has been widely criticized for its large-scale deployment of armed forces to address security issues in Papua and West Papua, a method experts say has failed to effectively treat the root causes of the violence in Simplifying the complexity of Papuan conflict could be fatal President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has emphasized the government's focus on developing Papua and West Papua through infrastructure and welfare programs, with the hope that it will resolve the longstanding conflicts in the regions. However, the infrastructure drive has created other security issues in the regions, with separatist groups periodically targeting government projects and workers.
Recently, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) – the armed wing of Free Papua Movement (OPM) – claimed responsibility for the killing of eight technicians who were repairing a telecommunications tower belonging to state-owned operator Telkomsel.
Only one technician managed to escape. When asked about the attack, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said the government would continue to implement its "territorial operation" in Papua, which focused on coordinating government agencies, including law enforcement and the Indonesian Military (TNI), to deal with separatist groups.