Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Rights Protection in Papua – Is Australia a Reluctant Neighbour?

 By Budi Hernawan

West Papuan students being held in Timika Police Custody after the 1 May incident

West Papuan students being held in Timika Police Custody after the 1 May incident

The recent fatal shootings in Papua by the Indonesian authorities are not novel. Rather, they are the latest in an ongoing pattern of human rights abuse. The gravity of the crackdown in the context of which the shootings occurred has been emphasised  not only by local human rights groups but also by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. In a public statement released just two days after the shootings, she said she was disappointed to see ‘violence and abuses continuing in Papua’, and she described the latest incidents  as ‘unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua.’  Such a prompt response from the highest UN official dealing with human rights sends a clear signal that the violence in Papua is by no means a low priority on the UN’s human rights agenda.

In claiming that ‘[i]nternational human rights law requires the Government of Indonesia to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into the incidents of killings and torture and [to] bring the perpetrators to justice’, Pillay invokes the fundamental responsibility of all states to protect their own citizens.  Continue Reading →


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“He put electric shock on me”: a glimpse of the persistent, widespread practice of torture in Papua

Matan Klembiap
Photograph courtesy of Anum Siregar, Democratic Alliance for Papua

By Budi Hernawan

On 15 February 2013, in the sub-district of Depapre (approximately 30 kilometres west of the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura), six Papuan men were arrested and detained by the local police. Daniel Gobay (30), Arsel Kobak (23), Eneko Pahabol (23), Yosafat Satto (41), and Salim Yaru (35) were in a car when the police stopped and searched them. Matan Klembiap (40), who was on his motorbike behind the car that the police stopped, was also detained. During the police interrogation all of the men were tortured to confess that they knew the whereabouts of two key pro-Papuan independence activists, Sebby Sambom and Terrianus Sato, who have gone into hiding. On the following day, four of the men were released without any charge; Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap remain in police custody, charged with “possessing a sharp weapon” under the Emergency Regulation 12/1951, a legacy from the Dutch colonial laws. Continue Reading →