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INDONESIA: Human rights activists from West Papua targeted following meetings with UN Human Rights Defenders Special Representative

June 28, 2007

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION -- URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal

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28 June 2007
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UA-209-2007: INDONESIA: Human rights activists from West Papua targeted following meetings with UN Human Rights Defenders Special Representative 

INDONESIA: Death threats, intimidation and attacks; human rights defenders; impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received credible information of ongoing attacks, intimidation, surveillance and threats, including death threats, against human rights defenders from West Papua that occurred in mid-June 2007, following their meeting with Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders. It is alleged that members of the Indonesian military (TNI) are targeting people who met with Ms. Hina Jilani during her visit to Indonesia and who informed her about human rights abuses in West Papua. Although a formal letter has been issued to the chief of the national police and the regional military commander of Papua province, no action has been taken by the authorities and the defenders continue to feel threatened while conducting their work. It must be recalled that Indonesia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, which has mandated Ms. Hina Jilani to carry out her work. Attacks on human rights defenders who have communicated with Ms. Jilani should be considered very grave, as should the Indonesian authorities’ failure to investigate such incidents, and call into question Indonesia’s credibility as a member of the Human Rights Council.

CASE DETAILS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed of three separate cases of alleged attacks, intimidation and threats by the military against human rights activists from West Papua. It is suspected that the following individuals were targeted by the armed forces shortly after their meeting with Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders (for more information please see the UN Press Release concerning her visit).

The first case reported involves two persons: Frederika Korain, Priest Perinus Kogoya. They all work for the Peace and Justice Commission for the Diocese of Jayapura (SKP Jayapura). They attended a public hearing with Ms. Hina Jilani in Jakarta on June 7, 2007. They returned to Jayapura on June 8, 2007. Sentani airport, where their plane landed, was being heavily guarded by the police, military and intelligence services, as Ms. Hina Jilani was scheduled to visit Papua. The afore-mentioned persons' vehicle was passing Post 7 Sentani in Ifar (about 5-10 minutes from the airport), when they were rammed by a blue Kijang car with police license plate number DS 1693 AF. As a result of the crash, the SKP car was damaged and the passengers were in shock. The SKP driver attempted to stop the car that had hit them, at which point two men got out of the car and stated that they were intelligence commanders for the military regional command of Trikora (Komandan Intel Kodam XVII Trikora). One of the men also stated in a threatening tone that his name is FX. Subangun and that he works as an intelligence commander in KODAM Trikora. He provided his cell phone number: 0811484860, following which the two men ran from the scene. The police, who saw the entire incident, allowed them to leave the scene of accident without being questioned. Local groups believe that this incident was no accident, but was for the direct purpose of intimidating the two defenders, notably as they had been being followed by the same car since they had left the airport.

The second case involves Yan Christian Warinussy, the Executive Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) in Manokwari, who has reported that he is under surveillance both at his home and office. On June 8, 2007, Mr. Warinussy met with Ms. Hina Jilani in Jayapura, and he came back to Manokwari on June 9, 2007. At around 8pm that night, Mr. Warinussy noticed a black Kijang Innova car parked in front of his house for about 20 minutes. The car's windows were tinted. The car returned at around 11pm that same night. On June 11, 2007, at around 7pm, two Kijang cars parked in front of the LP3BH office on Gunung Salju street for about 30 minutes. Mr. Warinussy requested protection from Peace Brigade International (PBI) and asked them to accompany him from Friday June 15, 2007 onwards. On  June 16, 2007, at around 8pm, two PBI activists and Mr. Warinussy, saw a metalic-coloured Kijang diesel car and police license plate number DD 546 PD parked in front of Mr. Warinussy's house for some 20 minutes. The car left and then passed by twice that night without stopping. On Monday, June 18, 2007, at 11pm, that same car was parked in front of the LP3BH office. The car is reportedly owned by the Manokwari Telkomsel telephone company. However, the car is reportedly often borrowed by a member of the Indonesian Navy named Hery, who is believed to be working as an intelligence officer for the Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) in Manokwari.

The third case concerns Mr. Albert Rumbekwan, the head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) in Papua Province. On June 11, 2007, Albert received a text message from cell phone number 081344034383 that said "You who are reporting about the human rights situation in Papua are trying to destroy the people. You want evidence of people being killed, I will kill your tribe, your family and your children will become only bones to show that there is only a zone of peace in Papua."

On June 14, 2007, Mr. Albert Rumbekwan received five more text messages from the same number, again containing death threats. AT around 8am on the same day, unidentified persons parked three cars some 20 meters from Mr. Albert Rumbekwan's office. The cars were a black Avanza, a Kijang LZ and a white Kijang Kapsul. The perpetrators were shouting, allegedly to get Mr. Albert Rumbekwan to come outside and see them, but he ignored them, as a result of which they remained in the area and monitored his offices until around 4pm. According to Mr. Albert Rumbekwan, the persons involved had long hair and came from two particular tribal groups, who it is thought may be being used by the authorities to conduct surveillance on their behalf. When Mr. Albert Rumbekwan left the office in a Komnas HAM Papua car, he was followed to his home by these persons. During the afternoon, Mr. Albert Rumbekwan received a telephone call from the same cell phone number, asking him to meet with the caller at Swissbell Hotel at 7pm that night. However, Mr. Albert Rumbekwan decided not to go to this meeting. On the night of June 17, 2007, a car was reportedly engaged in the surveillance of Mr. Albert Rumbekwan's house for about two and a half hours.

The Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) has already issued complaint letters concerning the three afore-mentioned cases to the Chief of Police for the Province of Papua (Kapolda Papua), Regional Military Commander of Trikora, chief of National Police (Kapolri), Foreign Affairs Minister of Indonesia, and the Head of Komnas HAM in Jakarta. However, no effective action has yet been taken to investigate these incidents. The Indonesian government must immediately investigate these incidents, punish those found to be responsible and ensure that all such attacks and intimidation tactics against human rights defenders are halted.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your grave concern regarding the attacks, death threats, intimidation and surveillance being experienced by human rights defenders in West Papua, notably those who have been in contact with Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, during her recent visit to Indonesia. Indonesia is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which mandates the Special Representative to carry out her work in favour of human rights defenders, and as such, attacks on defenders who have communicated with Ms. Jilani should be treated as being extremely serious, as they exhibit a wanton disregard for Indonesia’s international human rights obligations and pledges.

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Suggested letter:

Dear __________,

INDONESIA: Human rights activists from West Papua targeted following meetings with UN Human Rights Defenders Special Representative

Name of the victims:
1) Frederika Korain and Priest Perinus Kogoya from SKP Jayapura.
2) Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) in Manokwari
3) Albert Rumbekwan, the head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) in Papua Province.
Date of incidents: Mid-June 2007
Alleged perpetrators: members of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) and the Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS).

I am writing to voice my deep concern about the grave situation of human rights defenders in Indonesia's West Papua Province. Defenders continue to face harrasment, threats, and surveillance by the country’s security forces. I am informed that the following individuals have been subjected to such treatment following their having met with Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, in which they had discussed with her about the human rights violations in Papua. It must be recalled that Indonesia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, which has mandated Ms. Hina Jilani to carry out her work. Attacks on human rights defenders who have communicated with Ms. Jilani should be considered very grave, as should the Indonesian authorities' failure to investigate such incidents, as they exhibit a wanton disregard for Indonesia's international human rights obligations and pledges. These incidents call into question Indonesia’s credibility as a member of the Human Rights Council.

1. Frederika Korain and Priest Perinus Kogoya from the Peace and Justice Commission for the Diocese of Jayapura (SKP Jayapura). On their way back from the Sentani Airport in Jayapura on June 8, 2007, Frederika and Priest Perinus Kogoya's car was rammed by a blue Kijang car with license plate number DS 1693 AF, driven by two persons who informed them that they were intelligence commanders from the Trikora military regional command (Komandan Intel Kodam XVII Trikora). It is thought the defenders' car was intentionally rammed in order to intimidate them.

2. Mr. Yan Christian Warinussy, the Executive Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) in Manokwari has reported that he has repeatedly been placed under surveillance, both at his home and at work, on 11, 16, and 18 June 2007. It is believed that he is being watched by an Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) officer named Hery in Manokwari.

3. Mr. Albert Rumbekwan, the head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) in Papua Province, has received several death threats in text messages to his cell phone. Unknown people have also surrounded the office of Komnas Ham Papua. Mr. Rumbekwan was also followed by a car when going home from work. Threats were also made towards his family. The threats were made between 11 and 17 June, 2007.

I am gravely concerned to hear that after Ms. Hina Jilani's visit, human rights activists are being targeted for having communicated human rights issues to the UN official. As a signatory to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Indonesian State has a responsibility to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders. The Declaration reads: "The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration." (Article 12.2).

Despite the above, the Indonesian military continues to attack and intimidate human rights defenders with impunity. This is ensured by the authorities' failure to investigate such incidents and to punish those found to be responsible. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Indonesia has pledged to uphold human rights to the highest possible standards, but these incidents are seriously undermining the country's credibility in this regard. It must be recalled that attacks against human rights defenders must be taken very seriously, as they represent many human rights victims. Attacks on human rights defenders should be seen as attempts to also silence the victims they represent and amount to attacks on human rights themselves.

Although Indonesia has established a National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham), which the international community has viewed as being a positive advancement towards the protection of human rights, this institution and its members still faces hindrances to their work and even threats, as the above case shows all too clearly. I therefore urge the Indonesian government to ensure that this body is able to function in line with its mandate without constraints, so that it can properly investigate human rights violations, enabling the prosecution of the perpetrators of these acts.

I urge the Indonesian authorities to ensure that all attacks, threats and acts of intimidation cease and all other barriers to the work of human rights defenders are immediately halted. The government must ensure that the afore-mentioned cases are immediately and impartially investigated and that all persons found responsible are brought to justice, with adequate reparation being provided to the victims. As a member of the Human Rights Council, the spotlight is on Indonesia, and as such it must ensure that it lives up to its international human rights obligations and pledges. In particular here, the worsening human rights situation in West Papua must be addressed without delay.

I look forward to your prompt and effective response in this matter.


Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
President
Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara
Jakarta Pusat 10010
INDONESIA
Tel: + 62 21 3845627 ext 1003
Fax: + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782
Email: presiden@ri.go.id

2. Mr. Hendarman Supandji
Attorney General
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel: + 62 21 7221337, 7397602
Fax: + 62 21 7250213
Email: postmaster@kejaksaan.or.id

3. Gen. Sutanto
Chief of National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
Email: polri@polri.go.id

4. Mr. Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara
Chairperson
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 3925230
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227
E-mail: info@komnasham.or.id

5. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary on the situation of human rights defenders
Room 1-040, OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 906 8670
E-mail: urgent-actions@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

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Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-209-2007
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.