Government Rejects Call of UN Experts to Investigate Alleged Abuses in Papua

REUTERS – Indonesia rejects calls by United Nations human rights experts for an independent investigation into reports of “shocking abuses” against indigenous Papuans. The government said it had dealt with the allegations.

Separatist groups have carried out a number of actions over the decades in an effort to make Papua independent. They claim the 1969 vote supervised by the United Nations and bringing the former Dutch colony under Indonesian control was illegitimate.

In a statement on Tuesday, three independent UN experts said that between April and November 2021 they had received complaints indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including children, enforced disappearances, torture and the forced transfer of at least 5,000 Papuan people.

Statements from UN experts cite estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 people have been displaced in Papua since the escalation of violence in December 2018.

“Thousands of displaced villagers have fled to the jungle where they face extreme weather in the highlands without access to food, health and education facilities,” the experts said.

In a letter sent to the Indonesian government on December 27, experts also highlighted the escalation in violence since 2021 and said there had been a “spike” in raids to arrest armed separatists leading to arbitrary arrests and detentions.

One of the cases cited was of a two-year-old child who died after a gun battle, although separatist groups and security forces have differing accounts of how the child died.

Describing the statements of UN experts as “biased”, Indonesia’s permanent mission in Geneva in a statement said the news release ignored “verifiable data and information” that Indonesia had filed on the same charges.

It denied authorities had blocked aid or carried out forced displacement and said people had been displaced due to various factors including natural disasters and tribal conflicts.

The statement said security forces needed to be deployed in several areas due to attacks on civilians by “armed criminal groups.” [ah/rs]