No improvement in Papua human rights – UN must help, says report

Part of the cover of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission report on the West Papua human rights situation.

The report of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission on its “shadow” human rights fact-finding mission to West Papua this year has found no improvement in human rights.

It has called on the United Nations to investigate human rights abuses and for the Indonesian government to negotiate with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to find a pathway towards self-determination.

“‘We will lose everything!’ This was the grim prediction made by the four members of the executive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) when they presented their three-year campaign strategy to a Brisbane meeting of representatives of solidarity groups from around the South Pacific in January 2016,” says the report.

When ULMWP secretary-general Octovianus Mote uttered these words on behalf of his colleagues, both the anguish of the people of West Papua and their grim determination to overcome their oppression was evident in his voice, reports the Catholic commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

“Faced with becoming a small minority in their own land within a few short years and living with unrelenting intimidation and brutality at the hands of the Indonesian government’s security apparatus together with rapidly growing economic and social marginalisation, he stressed the need for urgent action to stop the violence in their land and to secure an international commitment to give their people a genuine opportunity to freely determine their future.”

The message was clear, says the Catholic report.

“The situation in West Papua is fast approaching a tipping point. In less than five years, the position of Papuans in their own land will be worse than precarious. They are already experiencing a demographic tidal wave.

‘Ruthless domination’
“Ruthless Indonesian political, economic, social and cultural domination threatens to engulf the proud people who have inhabited the land they call Tanah Papua for thousands of years,” says the report.

One week after the meeting in Brisbane, a two-person delegation from the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane travelled to West Papua to speak directly to Papuans about their situation.

“The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Summit in Port Moresby in September 2015 had agreed to send a human rights fact-finding mission to West Papua, but the Indonesian government has not allowed this to happen,” says the Catholic report.

“One of the commission’s objectives in sending the delegation was to build relationships with the Church in West Papua for future collaboration on human rights and environmental issues.

“However, because of the Indonesian government’s unwillingness to accept a PIF mission, our delegation effectively became the first of a number of shadow human rights fact-finding missions to West Papua from the Pacific.,” says the report.

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