Thursday, July 21, 2016

Government Violates Rights in Papuan Student Crackdown

 By Haeril Halim.

Brute force: A student is apprehended while he tries to enter the Papuan dormitory to attend a gathering held to voice calls for the secession of West Papua from Indonesia.(JP/Bambang Muryanto)(JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Yogyakarta, A student is apprehended while he tries to enter the Papuan dormitory to attend a gathering held to voice calls for the secession of West Papua from Indonesia.(JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Repressive measures taken in the recent arrests of Papuan students in Yogyakarta on allegations of promoting separatism has sparked debate on the fine line the government must walk with regard to freedom of expression.
Rights campaigners have slammed the excessive force used in the arrests of seven Papuan students who wanted to stage a rally to show support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s (ULMWP) bid for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) on Friday. Police also deployed a water cannon in front of the Papuan students’ dormitory in Yogyakarta as a “preemptive measure”.

Indonesia as a member of the international community having ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), must protect the right of its citizens to the freedom of expression.

YLBHI chairman Alvon Kurnia called on the government to avoid repressive acts toward Papuans who wanted to stage rallies to voice their aspirations to separate from Indonesia.

“In general, what the police did in Yogyakarta was excessive. The measures could be categorized as [violating freedom of expression]. Yes, in terms of the law, what they wanted to voice is not allowed but in terms of human rights, they [Papuans] have such a right [to express their opinions],” Alvon told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

For decades, the government employed military approaches to halt separatist moves in Papua, a decision that has resulted in scores of gross human rights cases that have claimed the lives of activists and civilians in Papua.

The central government has disbursed Rp 67 trillion in special autonomy funds since 2002 as part of the solution to end poverty in the resource-rich land and to maintain it as part of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia .

But 14 years on Papuans are still struggling to fulfill their basic needs on account of poor public facilities. Quality education and health services are limited.(thejakartapost.com)
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