West Papua Advocacy Team Urges Unrestricted Visit by UN
For immediate release
January 13, 2013 - The West Papua Advocacy Team is deeply
concerned about the Government of Indonesia's unilateral
decision to restrict the planned visit of the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right
to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue.
The government invited La Rue to visit Indonesia last May
during the UN Human Rights Council's
periodic review of human rights in Indonesia. Indonesia came
under pressure during that meeting because of its poor record of
protecting human rights, notably in West Papua.
The West Papua Advocacy Team strongly
urges the Government of Indonesia to lift any restrictions that would
prevent the Special Rapporteur from meeting with political prisoners in
Jayapura and in Ambon.
The government's proposed restrictions would preclude La Rue
from visiting West Papuan and other political prisoners held in
Jayapura and elsewhere. These political prisoners are
incarcerated for their peaceful political dissent. For many
years the Indonesian government has sought to limit freedom of
expression by West Papuans, often by smearing dissenters as
separatists and disingenuously claiming that these dissenters
are tied to the Papuan armed opposition.
According to reliable sources, the UN Special Rapporteur, who
is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia on January 14, plans to
postpone his visit unless he is allowed to visit prisoners in
both Jayapura and Ambon.
The Indonesian government also wants to prevent La Rue from
visiting political prisoners held in Ambon in the Moluccas.
Moluccan political prisoners, like Papuan political prisoners,
have been incarcerated because of their peaceful dissent. The
government proposed would limit him to meetings with officials
in Jakarta and with a religious cleric imprisoned in Sampang.
Human rights groups estimate that there are up to 100
political prisoners in Indonesia, mainly Papuans and Moluccans,
including 15 Papuans imprisoned under charges of treason.
The West Papua Advocacy Team strongly urges the Government of
Indonesia to lift any restrictions that would prevent the
Special Rapporteur from meeting with political prisoners in
Jayapura and in Ambon. The Indonesian government is accountable
to the international community to respect rights of political
prisoners under terms of numerous international conventions to
which it is party. A visit by the Special Rapporteur is an
important means by which to ensure Indonesian compliance with
its international obligations.
The West Papua Advocacy team encourages the Special Rapporteur
to postpone his visit until such time as he is able to set his
own agenda for the visit, including meetings with political
prisoners in Jayapura and Ambon.
The West Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of
academics, human rights defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat.