In 2020, the protection condition for Human Rights (HAM) Defenders in Papua is very alarming.  Throughout the year Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation has monitored various attack cases on Human Rights Defenders, activists, lawyers, journalists, indigenous peoples leaders, and religious leaders, involving in promoting human rights and defending the environment in Land of Papua.

Especially for Environmental Human Rights Defenders who are at the forefront and play their role as guardians of customary lands and forests in Papua, Bentala Rakyat Pusaka Foundation noted that there were 5 attack cases on Environmental Human Rights Defenders that occurred continuously.  For example, the attack on Petrus Kinggo (PK), an environmental activist from the Wambon Tekamerop indigenous community in Kali Kao Village, Jair District, Boven Digoel Regency.  On June 21, 2020, PK was subjected to physical violence that resulted in damage to housing and trauma to the community.  The attack case has been filed to the local police, but the case has not been continued because there was pressure from the authorities to stop the case process.  Since 2018, PK and the community have actively maintained and refused to convert their customary forest for the oil palm plantation business of PT Tunas Sawa Erma Blok E, owned by the Korindo Group.  Threats to PK have occurred several times, since 2018 there have been a series of violence threats, his portraits distribution, destruction of fighting tools, land claims, and so on.

Another case is the attack on the Awyu Tribe’s Cinta Tanah Adat activists in Boven Digoel Regency.  On November 16, 2020, the group supporting for the palm oil company PT Indoasiana Lestari carried out verbal attacks and violence threats toward the Pembela Tanah dan Lingkungan (Land and Environment Defenders) activists for not responding to the wishes and plans of company activities.  The threat occurred at the  Boven Digoel Precinct Police (Polres)

Station through a meeting that the paralegal community did not want to have.  As a result of the attacks, activists and the community felt insecure and were forced to give their consent under pressure.  The attack did not happen only once. Since 2018 there have been a series of threats to the activists of Cinta Tanah Adat Suku Awyu.

Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation noted that the attacks on Environmental Human Rights Defenders involved state and non-state actors.  State actors are security forces and local governments, while non-state actors are companies and company supporters.  However, there were often incidents which are the collaboration between the two actors with the motivation to (1) smooth and secure the corporate business;  (2) make restrictions on the rights of freedom of the community and environmental human rights defenders opposing the company’s projects.

Another important issue is the increasing restrictions, violence, criminalization and digital attacks against youth and student activists, humanitarian activists for Nduga refugees, lawyers, journalists, indigenous leaders and religious leaders in Papua.  In September and October 2020, some incidents happened  consecutively: The killing of a religious leader, Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Hitadipa, Kab.  Intan Jaya and catechist Rufinus Tigau in Sugapa, Kab.  Intan Jaya, as well as Agustinus Duwitau who was shot by TNI officers in Sugapa, Kab.  Intan Jaya.  These incidents of violence and killings coincided with the increase in military and law enforcement operations involving the TNI and Polri in large numbers.

Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation assesses that the government has not shown any improvement in its commitment to carrying out its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and including the rights of human rights defenders and the environment in Papua.  The state even participates in human rights violations in the context of business, state and non-state actors, corporations and company supporters, involving in human rights violations.

We, the Environmental Human Rights Defenders organization, are also worrying about the  regulatory policies and business permits development for the use of natural resources following the Job Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja), the existence of national projects to accelerate welfare development, national strategic programs and national economic recovery, the food estate program in Papua, which is not accompanied with protection efforts  respect and fulfillment of human rights, as well as resolving human rights violations cases. the matters will, in fact,  increase human rights conflicts and violations, as well as environmental damage.

In commemorating  International Human Rights Defenders Day (9 December 2020) and International Human Rights Day (10 December 2020), we urge to immediately:

  1. The central and regional governments must recognize, empower and protect human rights defenders, including environmental human rights defenders and other parties working for the advancement of human rights in Papua, by taking effective steps and developing policies to protect human rights defenders, stop criminalization of human rights defenders, stopsecurity approach and military operations that violate human rights in Papua, prosecute and stop business investments that are suspected of being involved in violating human rights and committing environmental crimes.
  2. The government carries out the function of monitoring and enforcing the law on permits and company activities, and urging business actors to carry out their responsibilities for respecting human rights through evaluating company policies, commitments and business activities for the prevention and handling of cases of human rights violations in the business area, including the protection of environmental human rights defenders.
  3. The National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) must work actively to monitor and protect environmental human rights defenders, youth and student activists, lawyers, journalists, religious leaders and other parties working for the advancement of human rights in Papua.

Jakarta, December 9, 2020

Contact Person: Tigor G. Hutapea: +62 812-8729-6684

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