Indonesia: Dramatic increase of arbitrary detentions in 2016
Indonesia’s Papua policy violates human rights (Press Release)
Following new mass arrests, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses Indonesia of systematical human rights violations against Papuan aborigines. “It is not worthy of a democratic country to arbitrarily arrest protesters who are merely making use of their right to freedom of expression. By criminalizing all Papuans who show commitment for their human rights, the state is creating a climate of intimidation, lawlessness, and arbitrariness,” criticized Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Asia-expert, in Göttingen on Thursday. On December 19, 2016, at least 528 Papuans were arrested in the course of protests against the Indonesian annexation of the former Dutch colony of West Papua 55 years ago. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 5,300 Papuans have been imprisoned for political reasons.
The recent demonstrations took place in nine cities in two Papuan provinces and in five cities in Indonesia. 50 people were arrested in the capital Jakarta, 165 and 126 in the Papuan cities of Wamena and Merauke. In Nambire, the security forces arrested 74 people, including children. Most of the detainees were released by now. After being released, several protesters complained that they had been beaten by police officers. Two protesters who were arrested in the course of the Jayapura protests are threatened with up to 15 years imprisonment, based on charges of high treason.
Prior to this, 200 demonstrators had been arrested in the Indonesian capital on December 1, 2016, West Papua’s Independence Day – and there had been waves of mass arrests in spring and summer of 2016.
According to the STP, there has been a significant increase in human rights violations against indigenous Papuans. For example, the number of arrests for political reasons has increased from around 300 in 2014 to over 1,083 in the following year and to at least 5,300 in 2016.
West Papua, which is rich in raw materials, is a home to about two million Papuan aborigines – most of them Christians – and hundreds of thousands of Indonesian migrants. In the 1960s, the western half of the island of New Guinea was annexed by Indonesia.
Header photo: Axel Drainville via Flickr