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West Papuan’s desire autonomy and end to Indonesian military operations

15 March 2004

Serious human rights violations against West Papuans are continuing to take place 35 years after a controversial ‘Act of Free Choice’, which integrated West Papua into Indonesia in 1969. New Indonesian plans to split West Papua into three provinces have been met with alarm by West Papuan’s who have not been consulted and fear increased military presence and command in the region. West Papuan’s claim widespread violations by Indonesian armed forces in order to coerce, intimidate and silence the Papuan people.

The Indonesian Government announced the controversial plan in a Presidential Instruction in January 2003, causing widespread protest and concern among the people of West Papua, who have a history of suspicion and fear of the Indonesian military. The plan followed an earlier 2001 decision offering ‘Special Autonomy’ to the province, which met with the approval of many Papuans since it offered to fulfill many of their basic rights. However, this regulation was repealed by President Megawati Soekarnoputri after only one year stated a representative of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid in West Papua.

This organization highlighted the issues facing the people of West Papua and the concerns of many regarding the future. The Indonesian armed forces, they claim, have been responsible for the murder of prominent Papuan leaders and for other widespread violations over many years, including killings, rape, torture, kidnapping and illegal detention. The representative stated that the Papuan people wished to avoid conflict and establish a ‘zone of peace’ in the region, despite provocation by external forces who seek to undermine and destroy the Papuan community. They also pointed to other moves to weaken the Papuan population, including the re-settlement of thousands of Indonesians.

The Working Group on Minorities was asked to encourage the Indonesian Government to cease military activities against the Papuan people and to fulfill its obligations under international human rights treaties. The government is further urged to stop its actions to divide the province of West Papua and to re-instate ‘Special Autonomy’ regulations for the region.

Notes for editors

Download the full intervention delivered to the UN Working Group on Minorities.

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