Attack on Papuan human rights organisation – Perpetrators set a motorcycle on fire

The office of the Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) was vandalised in the early morning of 9 May 2022. A motorcycle was set on fire inside the garage of the LBH Office in Jayapura City, Papua Province. According to information received, an LBH Papua staff staying at the office that night heard an explosion around 4.00 am. The motorcycle was already in flames as he reached the garage. He was able to extinguish the fire with the help of neighbours, preventing further damage to the office building and other vehicles (see photos below, source: LBH Papua).

The NGO provides legal assistance to people who can’t afford a lawyer. LBH Papua is also part of a coalition of human rights organisations in West Papua. The coalition provides legal and non-legal support to political activists and other victims of human rights violations in West Papua. The LBH Papua director, Mr Emanuel Gobay (see photo on top, source: LBH Papua), declared that he understands the attack as an attempt to prevent LBH Papua from engaging in human rights work. Mr Gobay has reported the case to the police. As of now, the investigators have not found clues leading to the perpetrators.

However, LBH Papua staff found various clues leading to the conclusion that the arson was a deliberate attack. They found a plastic bag containing remains of petrol at the crime site. Moreover, two residents witnessed a person wearing black clothes and a balaclava in front of the garage shortly before the explosion.

Background

Human rights defenders in West Papua are working in a highly repressive environment – the conflict region is characterized by a heavy security force presence. While the government often justifies the employment of the military for national security purposes in the conflict region, law enforcement authorities limit human rights and elementary freedoms under the pretext of maintaining public order and enforcing national laws.

The government of Indonesia continues to restrict access to West Papua for international organisations, foreign journalists and observers. As the awareness of the human rights situation of West Papua in international fora like the United Nations (UN) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is raised, the importance of human rights defenders in West Papua has significantly increased during the past number of years. Only they have access to victims, can investigate and document cases and supply international stakeholders with information on the human rights situation on the ground.  Many defenders in West Papua work independently and do not have social security coverage or a stable income through an employing organisation.

On 21 February 2021, Indonesian law enforcement institutions continued the trial against Papuan human rights defender and activist Mr Victor Yeimo. The trial against Mr Yeimo was initially launched at the Jayapura District Court in August 2021 but had to be interrupted because his health condition significantly deteriorated during detention. The trial is ongoing. He is accused of masterminding a series of demonstrations against racism which throughout September 2019. Victor Yeimo says he participated in the protest and made an oration after he was asked to speak to the crowd. However, he denies any wrongdoing and involvement in the protest planning. Human rights observers expressed concerns that the trial is an attempt to criminalise him for peacefully expressing his political views.

Photos

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: LBH Papua (1.5424882388714594, 148.8487669347819)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Kota Jayapura, Abepura
total number of victims: 1
period of incident: 09.05.2022
perpetrator: unknown
perpetrator details: unknown Issues: human rights defenders
Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Emanuel Gobaymaleunknownhuman rights defendersintimidation and reprisals