UN concerned over torture of West Papuan tribes

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders has concluded her visit to Indonesia.

Ms Hina Jilani said on June 12th that she is, ‘is deeply concerned’ by the testimonies revealing the extent of arbitrary detention, torture, harassment through surveillance and the restriction of movement of indigenous Papuans who speak out about human rights violations.

Ms Jilani reports that the police and the military threaten to prosecute human rights defenders who investigate allegations of human rights abuses committed by the security forces. She was particularly disturbed that such defenders are then labelled as separatists in an effort to undermine their credibility. The Special Representative urges this to stop.

The Special Representative said that she is also concerned that people working to protect land rights were frequently threatened by ‘private actors with powerful economic interest’, but are given no protection by the police.

Ms Jilani will present her report on this mission to the United Nations Human Rights Council and will make detailed recommendations for the consideration of the Indonesian government.

Survival welcomes her findings, which are consistent with our experience of working with human rights activists and tribal leaders in West Papua for the last 25 years. Many tribal people have been murdered, arrested and tortured for speaking out about military and police brutality. Survival continues to push for the government of Indonesia to recognise the rights of the tribal peoples of West Papua to the collective ownership of their land and for an end to human rights violations.