Queen Mary Uni to host tribunal on ‘environmental violence, profiteering’ in West Papua

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West Papua is home to the world's third-largest rainforest
West Papua is home to the world's third-largest rainforest . . . the ongoing state repression and environmental degradation in the region have far-reaching impacts. Image: ccccjustice.org

Asia Pacific Report

The Centre for Climate Crime and Justice at Queen Mary University of London will host a Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on State and Environmental Violence in West Papua later this month.

A panel of eight tribunal judges will hear evidence on June 27-29 from many international NGOs and local civil society organisations, as well as testimonies from individuals who have witnessed human rights violations and environmental destruction, said a statement from the centre.

West Papua is home to the world’s third-largest rainforest, currently under threat from industrial development. Due to its global significance, the ongoing state repression and environmental degradation in the region have far-reaching impacts.

This tribunal aims to bring global attention to the need to protect this crucial rainforest by exploring the deep connection between democracy, state violence, and environmental sustainability in West Papua, said the statement.

“There are good reasons to host this important event in London. London-based companies are key beneficiaries of gas, mining and industrial agriculture in West Papua, and its huge gold and other metal reserves are traded in London,” said Professor David Whyte, director of the Centre for Climate Crime and Justice.

“The tribunal will expose the close links between state violence, environmental degradation, and profiteering by transnational corporations and other institutions.”

The prosecution will be led by Dutch Bar-registered lawyer Fadjar Schouten Korwa, who said: “With a ruling by the eminent Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the crimes against the Indigenous Papuan people of West Papua and the failure of the state of Indonesia to protect them from human rights violations and impunity, we hope for a future without injustice for West Papua.”

‘Long history of destruction’
A leading West Papuan lawyer, Gustaf Kawer, said: “The annexation of West Papua into the State of Indonesia is part of a long history of environmental destruction and state violence against Papua’s people and its natural resources.

“Our hope is that after this trial examines the evidence and hears the statements of witnesses and experts, the international community and the UN will respond to the situation in West Papua and evaluate the Indonesian state so that there can be recovery for natural resources and the Papuan people.”

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on State and Environmental Violence in West Papua seeks to initiate a series of events and discussions throughout 2024 and 2025, aiming to engage the UN Human Rights Council and international civil society organisations.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on West Papua will take place on Thursday, June 27 – Saturday, 29 June 2024, at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus.

The panel of judges comprises: Teresa Almeida Cravo (Portugal), Donna Andrews (South Africa), Daniel Feierstein (Argentina), Marina Forti (Italy), Larry Lohmann (UK), Nello Rossi (Italy), and Solomon Yeo (Solomon Islands).

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