HRM’s Papua Monitor Report for the third quarter of 2023 covers the events that happened from 1 July to 30 September 2023 in regard to the conflict situation and human rights violations in West Papua. Below is a summary of the events.
Human rights statistics indicate a stagnation of the human rights situation in West Papua. The pattern of violations continues to differ from other parts of the country strongly. Particularly, the figures on unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, and criminalisation are significantly higher than in any other part of the country. This deviation is closely related to the armed conflict and the heavy security force presence in West Papua. Meanwhile, human rights defenders keep criticising the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) for a lack of responsiveness to investigating allegations of human rights violations in the Papuan provinces.
The criminalisation of human rights defenders and political activists in West Papua remains rampant. The West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a civil resistance movement promoting the right to self-determination through non-violent action, remains among the most persecuted. Many Papuan activists have been convicted of treason and sentenced to imprisonment despite the lack of supporting evidence in court. The pattern is, on the one hand, caused by the police and public prosecutors and, on the other hand, affirmed by the judges. The prosecution of Papuan activist Mr Victor Yeimo and three University students in Jayapura illustrates persistent deficiencies in the justice system.
The widespread impunity is another reason for the devastating human rights situation in West Papua. Recent military tribunals related to the enforced disappearance and two cases of extra-judicial executions of indigenous Papuans in the regencies Intan Jaya and Mimika illustrate the pressing issue of accountability and impunity in West Papua. The failure to detain defendants and the leniency of sentences in cases of violence against civilians perpetuate a climate of impunity. The recent sentencing of five police officers in a public trial in Manokwari and two military members in a military tribunal in Manado in July 2023 remain exceptional and positive examples of law enforcement against perpetrators of human rights violations in Indonesia. Corruption allegations against public prosecutors in Manokwari additionally highlight the shortcomings of the Indonesian justice system.
The armed conflict in West Papua continues to substantially impact the human rights situation in West Papua throughout the 3rd quarter of 2023, particularly concerning cases of unlawful killings, torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, and the criminalisation of activist and human rights defenders. Security forces continue to trace down members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in conflict-affected regencies. The raids in the regencies Yahukimo, Puncak, Nduga, and Fakfak were conducted with utmost brutality, involving acts of torture and arbitrary arrests.
Residents were arbitrarily detained, and dozens were tortured. HRM documented 38 armed attacks and clashes during the 3rd quarter of 2023, reportedly causing twelve fatalities among security forces, twelve among TPNPB fighters, and twenty civilian casualties. Statistics on armed clashes and the number of fatalities among combatants and civilians indicate a further aggravation of the conflict.
The humanitarian crisis in West Papua continues to exacerbate. Armed clashes and security force operations have caused the internal displacement of more than a thousand additional people in the regencies Fafak, Yahukimo, and Pegunungan Bintang in August and September 2023. According to data compiled by human rights defenders in various regencies across West Papua, a total of 76,228 people, most of them indigenous Papuans, remain internally displaced because of the armed conflict as of September 2023.
On 4 July 2023, the UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, in her opening remarks during the 22nd Meeting of the 53rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, expressed concerns regarding the human rights situation in the easternmost provinces in Indonesia. She highlighted the harassment, arbitrary arrest, and detention of Papuans, which had led to the appropriation of customary land in West Papua. She encouraged the Indonesian Government to ensure humanitarian assistance and engage in “a genuine inclusive dialogue”.The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the United States Department of State published a new report on the human rights situation in Indonesia throughout 2022. The report emphasises credible accounts of serious human rights abuses in the Papua provinces.