A new United Nations report has detailed the harassment and surveillance of West Papuan human rights defenders at the hands of the Indonesian state.
The report, jointly compiled by the UN Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), records attacks on human rights defenders in 45 countries, including Indonesia.
The report details the Indonesian government’s harsh treatment of indigenous communities, infringements of land-related rights, and targetting of West Papuans trying to draw international attention to human rights abuses.
The UN report gives particular focus to the arrest and continuing detention of Victor Yeimo, spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), for the alleged crimes of ‘treason’ and ‘incitement’. In reality, Mr Yeimo was arrested after speaking at a peaceful protest, where he condemned anti-Papuan racism and called for the right of self-determination to be extended to West Papua. The UN, along with Amnesty International, has previously raised concerns about Mr Yeimo’s arrest due to the rapid deterioration of his already fragile health while in detention.
The treatment of Mr Yeimo’s lawyer, Veronica Koman, also gains the UN’s attention. Ms Koman, a native Indonesian, has been the target of significant threats and intimidation due to her advocacy for West Papuan rights. She currently resides in exile in Australia, unable to return to her homeland.
The report also details the case of Wensislaus Fatubun, a member of the Papuan People’s Assembly, who was surveilled and eventually arrested for working with the UN and other organisations.
The UN makes it clear that human rights advocates are not the only targets of Indonesian intimidation. Victor Mambor, a journalist for the Papuan-based newspaper Tabloid Jubi, has been subjected to digital and physical attacks for his reporting on human rights abuses in West Papua.
The report gives renewed energy to the calls for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. Over 80 international states have now called for the visit to take place, following an international campaign coordinated by the ULMWP.
The relevant sections of the UN report can be read here.