People in Indonesia enjoy differing levels of respect for fundamental freedoms depending on where they live.read more
There have been a series of arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters in the region of West Papua in the last month
Crackdown against peaceful protesters in West Papua
1) Bahasa:— WeneMedia (@WeneMedia) September 24, 2018
24/09/2018. Pukul 10 :02 WIT.
sebanyak 67 org Masa aksi Damai Rakyat Papua Mendukung ULMWP & Vanuatu ditahan polisi resort kota Jayapura dan sekitar pukul 18.02 Wit telah dipulangkan. pic.twitter.com/wBjRnCDlRM
There have been a series of arbitrary arrests of protesters in the region of West Papua in the last month. As previously documented by the CIVICUS Monitor security forces are responsible for a high level of repression in West Papua, in response to long-standing calls for independence. Hundreds have been detained or imprisoned for their peaceful pro-independence activism.
On 26th September 2018, at least 67 Papuan student activists were detained by the police for participating in at least three protests in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. The demonstration organised by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was held to support efforts by Vanuatu and other Pacific countries to highlight concerns around human rights in West Papua before the UN General Assembly. One student, Petrus Kosamah was allegedly assaulted by the police. All have since been released.
Human rights lawyer Gustaf Kawer said:
“The police do this repeatedly. There is no [stipulation] in the law stating that police can reject a notification…the proper way is for police to escort them until the demonstrators have achieved their goal… police frequently violate the law”
Police in West Papua often prevent peaceful demonstrations and disperse protests if a group does not have a police acknowledgement letter (“Surat Tanda Terima Pemberitahuan” or STTP) which is supposed to be issued once the police receive a notification from protest organisers. According to human rights activists, often the police do not issue the acknowledgement letter, particularly for pro-independence demonstrations.
8/9/2018 Teluk Bintuni, West Papua:— Veronica Koman (@VeronicaKoman) September 8, 2018
35 orang ditangkap sejak pagi karena aksi damai mendukung draf resolusi penentuan nasib sendiri ke PBB.
35 West Papuans arrested since morning for peacefully protesting in support of draft resolution on self-determination to the UN. pic.twitter.com/Qbcc77edE1
On 8th September 2018, the Manokwari Institute for Research Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari) documented the arrests of protestors during a peaceful demonstration in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in Bintuni, West Papua province.
According to LP3BH Manokwari, on the morning of 8th September, the mobile police brigade (Brimob) unit Sub Den-4 Bintuni arrested the protestors and detained them at the Bintuni sub-district police station. The chief of the Teluk Bintuni district police stated in an interview with the Papuan news outlet Suara Papua that the demonstration was carried out “without permission”. Yan Christian Warinussy, the director of LP3BH Manokwari believes the police conducted the arrests because some of the protesters were waiving the Morning Star. pro-independence flag.
#WestPapua: on the 3rd of September #Indonesia forces entered the Cendrawasih university in #Jayapura to arrest Papuan students for attending recent pro-PIF (Pacific Island Forum) protests.— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) September 8, 2018
Activists report around 80 Papuans have been detained recently pic.twitter.com/IMWgzCIYt9
On 4th September 2018, as many as 79 individuals were arrested for holding a peaceful demonstration in Jayapura. The crowd included activists and students linked to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULWMP) and called on the government to recognise their right to self-determination. The protesters also voiced support for Vanuatu's plan to raise the Papuan self-determination issue at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Nauru. Police also reportedly asked the detained protesters to sign letters promising not to participate in future protests stating they would be charged if they repeat such actions.
A day earlier, on 3rd September, 14 people from the Papuan Democratic Peoples Movement (Garda Papua) were arrested in Waena for peacefully demonstrating in West Papua calling for the closure of the Freeport mining company over its adverse impact on local indigenous peoples. The protest also called for the building of markets for marginalised West Papuan women, and the demilitarisation of West Papua.
Human rights group TAPOL condemned the arrests saying:
“Arbitrary arrests are routinely used by the Indonesian police to deter citizens from exercising their rights to peacefully organise, associate, and express social and political aspirations. These latest incidents of mass arrests underscore both the iron grip of militarism in West Papua and tactics employed to deter civil society”
On behalf of #ULMWP & the people of #WestPapua, I fully condemn the arrest of 49 #WestPapuan students yesterday, arrested for peacefully remembering the #NewYorkAgreement & calling for the fulfillment of its #SelfDetermination promise. #FreeWestPapua https://t.co/pU9aimHw8P pic.twitter.com/wsxuQNgoXW— Benny Wenda (@BennyWenda) August 16, 2018
On 17th August 2018, at least 49 West Papuan university students in the city of Surabaya were detained for police questioning. The students were preparing to host a discussion to mark the anniversary of the 1962 agreement signed between the Netherlands and Indonesia at the United Nations regarding the administration of West Papua.
According to reports, the students involved were initially subject to harassment by members of Indonesia's nationalist Pancasila movement. The group reportedly insisted the Indonesian flag be raised in their dormitory and threw projectiles at the Papuans. Later, the dormitory was raided by police who detained the students for questioning. They were held in custody overnight and then subsequently released.
Pada hari ini Aksi Kamisan Surabaya tanggal 27 September 2018 dibubarkan paksa oleh sekelompok Ormas dan Aparat Kepolisian, kejadian yg sama juga terjadi dalam Aksi Kamisan di Malang..#daruratdemokrasi #aksikamisansurabaya #aksikamisandibubarkan pic.twitter.com/fLEpuUHH0i— LBH Surabaya (@LBH_surabaya) September 27, 2018
On 27th September 2018, police and a pro-nationalist group forcibly dispersed the weekly “Thursday protest” (Kamisan) in front of the Malang City Hall in East Java. The silent protest started in Jakarta in 2007 in front of the State Palace calling on the President to resolve past human rights cases. Over the years, the regular Thursday actions have spread to other Indonesian cities including Malang. The focus of this action was to highlight the continued smear campaign against those calling for truth and accountability for the 1965 anti-communist killings and other violations by the authorities.
Local human rights group, Kontras criticised the actions of the police saying “the forced dispersal was a dangerous signal for the future of democracy and the resolution of past human rights crimes that have occurred in Indonesia”. They said there was an increasing number of cases of restriction to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in the country and this case adds to that list.
On 25th August 2018, the regional Bangka Belitung police banned a public discussion on current political affairs on the islands by two opposition activists Rocky Gerung and Ratna Sarumpaet. In another similar event in Palembang, South Sumatra on 31st August, the hotel management cancelled a public discussion after the police warned both individuals that they were only allowed to spend three hours in Palembang City and had to leave after.
These events are part of an opposition movement to replace the current President in the 2019 elections. The police have said that they will not issue a permit for a public event linked with the movement because it could cause “public disruption or disorder”.
Amnesty International Indonesia said that “the actions from the local authorities and police to ban the anti-government movement are a clear restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly which are enshrined in the Constitution and national legislation on elections”.
Laporan Situasi Pembela Hak Asasi Manusia atas Lingkungan Periode November 2017-Juli 2018 https://t.co/GRLDz5c3tS via @IUCNNL @sawit_watch @ntfpepindonesia @walhinasional #humanrightdefenders #environmentaldefenders— ELSAM Indonesia (@elsamnews) September 24, 2018
A new report entitled “Under the Shadow of The State’s and Company’s Violence: Situational Report of Environmental Human Rights Defenders for November 2017-July 2018”, by the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), highlights some of the challenges faced by environmental human rights defenders in Indonesia, including safety and security issues and the lack of legal protection.
The report documented 254 cases of violations against environmental HRDs, including farmers, student activists, fisherfolk and others. According to the human rights organisation, the violations faced by HRDs include cases of violence, intimidation and threats, arrest and criminalisation and even killings. The cases occurred in 14 provinces with the highest numbers in West Sumatera, North Sumatera and Yogyakarta. A large number of disputes are related to land, infrastructure and mining issues with the perpetrators mainly the police, military and companies. ELSAM urged the government to strengthen the protection of environmental HRDs by issuing supporting regulations to the existing Environmental Law.
I just received this video from my source in West Papua: Police raids the headquarter of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Timika today. We haven’t received any report of casualties. Will keep you update here. pic.twitter.com/ax3sw1ndmc— febriana firdaus (@febrofirdaus) September 15, 2018
On 23rd September 2018, security forces raided the Timika branch office of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a political organisation that advocates the right to self-determination for the West Papuan people. During the operation, security forces arrested nine KNPB activists. During the operation, police entered the office and shot two KNPB activists who had to be hospitalised.
KNPB activist Jack Yakonias Womsiwor sustained three bullet injuries on the left ankle, calf and thigh while Erikson Mandobar was twice shot in the right calf. Seven others arrested were Pais Nasia, Titus Yelemaken, Vincent Gobay, Urbanus Kossay, Efesus Hisage Arius Elopere and Nus Asso who were temporarily detained at the Mimika district police station.
Police alleged that they had seized stored firearms and explosives at the office but KNPB activists have denied this claiming that the police had fabricated evidence to criminalise them and disrupt their peaceful resistance. Police also seized money, a pro-independence flag, documents, two mobile phones, one laptop and two computers and destroyed property at the office.
How did a complaint about a mosque speaker result in a blasphemy conviction?@PUSADparamadina researchers present a detailed run-down of the case, showing how hate was mobilised to convict Meiliana https://t.co/wDigyPgdXL— IndoAtMelb (@IndoAtMelb) September 3, 2018
On 21st August 2018, an Indonesian court sentenced a Buddhist woman, Meiliana, to 18 months in prison for blasphemy after she was accused of insulting Islam for complaining that the neighborhood mosque near her house in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra was too loud.
Amnesty International Indonesia demanded that she be immediately released from prison. Its executive director Usman Hamid said:
“Making a complaint about noise is not a criminal offence. This ludicrous decision is a flagrant violation of freedom of expression…sentencing someone to 18 months in prison for something so trivial is a stark illustration of the increasingly arbitrary and repressive application of the blasphemy law in the country.”
Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims and sizable Buddhist, Christian and other religious minorities. Recent years have seen a rise in conservative and hardline interpretations of Islam, prompting fears that the secular nation’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and diversity is being eroded. Between 2005 and 2014 Amnesty International recorded at least 106 individuals who have been prosecuted and convicted under blasphemy laws.
On 23rd August 2018, a peaceful pro-independence Papuan activist, Agustinus Yolemal, was detained for posting a video on Facebook and charged with “disseminating hostility against the state ideology” under the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE Law).
According to Amnesty International, Agustinus Yolemal was in his house in Timika, Mimika District, Papua Province when dozens of police personnel arrested him and three other family members including his son without a warrant. After hours of interrogation, the police released his family members, while detaining Agustinus.
In the video that Agustinus posted on his Facebook page, both Agustinus and his son can be seen and heard jointly voicing slogans including “Papua, independence”, “referendum, yes”, “Indonesia, go home”, “Indonesia, stupid” and “Indonesia, animal”. At the end of the video, Agustinus said that some of the slogans were too “evil” and told his son not to repeat them.
Article 45A(2) of the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE Law), under which Agustinus has been charged, carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one billion rupiah (around USD 66,700) for any person who deliberately and without right disseminates information aimed at inflicting hatred or hostility. It has been used to prosecute individuals who use social media or other online platforms to criticise or ridicule abstract entities such as religion or “state ideology”. The vague and overbroad legislation has often been used to arrest, prosecute and punish persons for peacefully exercising their freedom of speech.
The Law on Mass Organisations (Ormas Law) continues to govern civil society organisations, and has been used to de-legitimise and control various groups in Indonesia.
The Law on Mass Organisations (Ormas Law) continues to govern civil society organisations, and has been used to de-legitimise and control various groups in Indonesia. The law forces civil society to adhere to ‘Pancasila’ or the five principles of state philosophy. Furthermore, the law constrains the receipt of foreign funding, places restrictions on the activities of CSOs and gives authorities the ability to dissolve associations without obtaining a court order. The law also contains discriminatory measures designed to stop international civil society groups working in Indonesia. The implementation of the law has drawn criticism from the international community and demonstrates the challenge of balancing religious philosophy with civic freedoms and religious plurality. This is best demonstrated by the experiences of groups working on LGBTI rights, who frequently document abuses committed with impunity against minority groups. Furthermore, CSOs operating in West Papua experience a highly repressive environment where activists are routinely arrested. There are currently an estimated 4,198 political prisoners from West Papua being held by the authorities.
For the most part, people in Indonesia enjoy the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, with regular protests on a range of issues taking place peacefully and without impediment.
For the most part, people in Indonesia enjoy the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, with regular protests on a range of issues taking place peacefully and without impediment. While in the rest of Indonesia, the organisers of public assemblies are only required to inform the police and assemblies are prohibited from being held at government sites and transport stations, in West Papua the police unnecessarily restrict many forms of protest against the state by students, political groups and human rights NGOs. On 4 May 2016 over 1,720 activists were arrested for holding rallies in support of a pro-referendum group. Security forces’ use of arbitrary and unlawful arrests coupled with acts of intimidation across West Papua provoked an outcry from local and international civil society groups. More recently, on 12 June a further 31 activists were arrested in West Papua for handing out leaflets about an upcoming pro-referendum rally.
While freedom of speech is guaranteed in Indonesia’s Law No. 9 of 1988, this freedom is not fully respected in practice, particularly in West Papua.
While freedom of speech is guaranteed in Indonesia’s Law No. 9 of 1988, this freedom is not fully respected in practice, particularly in West Papua. In attempting to freely express their views, the Melanesian peoples of West Papua have suffered arrest, torture and killings by the Indonesian military, who have acted with impunity. A 2008 law regulating electronic information and transactions (ITE) made defamation illegal and punishable by a prison sentence. Civil society groups working on sensitive issues which challenge the status-quo are vulnerable to prosecution, or self-censorship. The ITE law has also been used by the authorities to censor the Internet. 85 people were prosecuted using the ITE law between 2014 and 2015. In April 2015, simultaneous protests were held all over the world that highlighted the media blackout in West Papua and called for an end to 50 years of isolation.’ Press freedom has suffered in West Papua under de facto military rule. Indonesian journalists face intimidation if they cover events in West Papua. International journalists, human rights organisations and humanitarian agencies have been prevented from entering West Papua despite promises by President Joko Widodo to open up the province.