ETAN Calls for an End to Indonesia's Silencing of West Papuan
Protesters; Condemns Mass Arrests
JUNE 7, 2016- The East Timor and Indonesia
Action Network (ETAN)
condemns ongoing violations of the rights of West Papuans to freedom of
calls for an end to Indonesia's
attacks against Papuan protesters.
Contact: John M. Miller,
"Indonesia's continued repression of West Papuan protests is
unacceptable," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.
"Indonesia must end the arrests, provide permits for demonstrations, and
-- most importantly -- respond positively to the protesters' demands for
|Peaceful demonstration in Jayapura in support of the United
Liberation Movement for West Papua. Photo: Tabloid Jubi
On Monday, May 30, in a pre-emptive move, Indonesian police
rounded up hundreds
of West Papuans as they prepared to protest in Jayapura. Dozens of
others were also seized in Wamena and in
the Northern Sulawesi city of Manado. On May 2,
as they marched or prepared to march in towns throughout the region.
have made clear
that they will continue to suppress pro-independence expression in West
On May 30, Papuans rallied to express support for the United Liberation
Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the release of political prisoners.
Led by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), the protesters'
applications for permits were ignored by the police. Indonesia's
President Joko Widodo has said he supports the release of political
After the early May arrests, police separated the protest leaders and
beat them with rifle butts and stomped on their bodies. Others were
made to strip
and sit outside in the heat of the tropical sun. These protests were
commemorating the United Nations transfer of control of West Papua to
Indonesia on May 1, 1963.
"President Widodo has
improve human rights in West Papua However, what we see is the same old brutal repression and denial of
rights," said Miller. "The security forces on the ground either haven't
received the message or are deliberately undermining the policy," he
Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
was founded in 1991. ETAN supports democracy, human rights and justice
in Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. Website: Twitter:
Police arrested a total of 2175 West Papuan protesters in April and May. Some were detained while attempting to
deliver the required notifications of planned protests to the police.
West Papuans are guaranteed the right to freedom of expression by the
Indonesian Constitution and international accords that Indonesia is a
party to, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
In October, more than 3,500 people signed an ETAN
urge US President Barack Obama "to condition U.S. support for
the Indonesian security forces on concrete improvements in human
West Papua consists of the western half of the island of New Guinea and
is home to more than 250 tribes of Melanesian descent. A former Dutch
colony, the First West Papuan People's Congress declared independence on
December 1, 1961. Since
May 1963, West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia with U.S. government
support and encouragement. In 1969, Indonesia formally annexed the
territory in a widely-disputed UN-endorsed vote involving only a tiny
percentage of the population. Over the course of five decades, West
Papuans have suffered mass killings, torture, rape, and the loss of
their culture and lands rights.
Indonesia regularly represses peaceful demonstrations. Reverend Benny
Giay, a well-known advocate for West Papua,
wrote in response
to the early May arrests, "Every protest and negotiation effort by
indigenous people is met with brutal responses and security operations.
In talking about West Papua, the Indonesian government often uses
language that obscures past abuses. Papua's relationship with the
outside world is heavily controlled."
The ULMWP, a broad coalition of leading pro-independence groups in West
Papua, seeks full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a
regional group of countries and territories, and
internationally-mediated talks with Jakarta.
ETAN is "A voice of reason,
criticizing the administration's
reluctance to address ongoing
human rights violations and
escalating oppression in West
Papua and against religious