Amnesty says police forced Papuans to cut hair and beards in Intan Jaya

Amnesty International Indonesia hands over its report on human rights in Wabu Block
Amnesty International Indonesia hands over its report on human rights in Wabu Block to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe. Image: IndoLeft News/CNN

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Amnesty International Indonesia has revealed that police officers forced a number of residents of Intan Jaya regency in Papua to cut their hair and beards because they were seen as the characteristics of armed group members, reports CNN Indonesia.

Amnesty researcher Ari Pramuditya said this was discovered based on interviews with Intan Jaya residents while conducting research on the situation at the planned Wabu Block gold mine.

Pramuditya said he conveyed these findings directly to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe at the Papua Provincial Government Liaison Office in South Jakarta.

“In the case of several of these people they were even forced to take on a certain appearance, they were forced to cut their hair, cut their beards, because according to police these are characteristics of certain armed criminal groups,” Pramuditya told a media conference last Friday.

In addition to this, Amnesty’s findings also showed that the daily lives and activities of Intan Jaya communities such as shopping, gardening and visiting other villages was being restricted by police.

“[Because] they are suspected of being members of armed groups,” said Pramuditya.

Pramuditya also reported that there was an internal refugee crisis in Intan Jaya as a result of the escalation in armed conflicts involving the Indonesian military.

Seeking shelter in forests
Intan Jaya indigenous people have been seeking shelter in the forests and other nearby areas such as Nabire and Mimika. Local people have even been building temporary homes in the forests which they use as shelter when armed conflicts escalate.

“They are afraid to return to their areas, to their homes, because they will be suspected of being members of certain armed criminal groups,” said Pramuditya.

Based on the findings of human rights violations in Intan Jaya, Amnesty is recommending that the government stop the licensing process for mining in the Wabu Block until the situation returns to normal.

“One of the recommendations we are strongly emphasising is to postpone issuing [mining] licences in Wabu Block at least until the security situation returns to normal,” said Pramuditya.

CNN Indonesia has tried to contact TNI Information Centre Director (Kapuspen) Major General Prantara Santosa to confirm the report but has yet to receive a response.

The planned mining project in the Wabu Block become the focus of public attention after it was criticised by environmental and traditional community activists.

The company PT Freeport handed over the Wabu Block to the regional government in 2015. According to the latest data, the Wabu Block is estimated to hold 4.3 million ounces of gold with a value of US$14 billion.

Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid has been urging the government to halt the planned mining project at Wabu Block until there is consultation and agreement with all the traditional communities in Intan Jaya.

“In order to ensure the plan is halted until there is consultation and agreement from all the traditional communities in Intan Jaya,” Hamid said during a press conference last month.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was Temuan Amnesty: Aparat Paksa Warga Papua Potong Rambut dan Jenggot.

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