West Papua: The Truth and Lies

West Papua (WPF) has received information detailing the truth and lies about West Papuan criminal detainees, who are held by the Indonesian police and prison service in Jayapura, Manokwari and Timika.

Even though unfair treatment of  criminal detainees are common in many places in the world, such unfairness can not take place in Papua. We should push the improvement of treatment of criminal detainees in Papua.

In one side, criminal detainees that have been arrested as a result of involvement in flag-raising events or for displaying the symbols of separatism such as the West Papuan Morning Star flag on their clothing are victims of law system in Papua. On the other side, those separatist activists are challenging the law by breaking it. Those separatist can argue that they fight for their personal right to speak their mind. Those separatist can also argue that their activities are in the name of freedom of speech or political expression. However, Papuan authorities can not accept such argumentation because they used the democratic system in Indonesia for their own interest. If we want to speak loudly for the interest of Papuan people, we don’t need any symbol of resistance to our own brother in the government. We should think about the future of Papua by giing our attention to the basic problems in Papua, for example health improvement, education, economic development, environment protection, etc.

Separatist symbols, like the Morning Star flag, were banned under Regulation 77/2008 because of the impact of such movement is very dangerous to the Papuan people. It is very political and not cultural.

The detention of provocative activists under Law 77 / 2008 is a prevention step to stop potential physical conflict Papua and West Papua. The banning of separatist symbols is not a violation of Indonesia’s constitutional commitment to freedom of expression.

The Government of Indonesia has ratified the International Covenants for Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenants for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Regulation 77/2008 which is the Indonesian law used by Police to make the arrests and prosecutions of the Manokwari and Jayapura criminal detainees is in accordance to the Indonesian Governments commitment to uphold both the ICCPR and the ICESCR.

However, crime in the case of provoking people with separatist symbols is just an ordinary crime and should not be punished by hard sanctions. The government of Papua should be very careful in handling these issues because separatist groups are very creative in telling lies to the world about wht happen in Papua. If we want to prepare an open society in Papua, There should be a serious civic education program or socialization to the people about how to handle separatist movement. Otherwise, opening the box of pandora in Papua will create a horrible conflict.

Based on this information WPF urges individuals, organizations, and governments concerned about human rights and democracy in Indonesia to be careful in reading any information about human rights issue in Papua.

West Papua Free

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