Indonesia’s Papua region, or West Papua, has been highlighted at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in recent days.
During the 32nd session of the Council Plenary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, zeroed in on Papua.
Referring to West Papuans’ struggles with rapid demographic and socio-economic change in their homeland, Mr Kiai spoke of the domination of a particular culture, language and tradition which are clamied as being superior to others.
He said what is occurring in Papua was a phenomenon connected with cultural fundamentalism and nationalism seen in other parts of the world.
“In each case, the superiority has triggered the process of dehumanization or delegitimizing of particular groups,” said Mr Kiai in his report.
“Gradually, these groups would lose their humanity and rights. This process can lead to devastating consequences, because history has proved it many times.”
A number of civil society groups attended the plenary to express concern about the restriction of freedom of expression in Papua.
They urged Indonesia’s government to open up access on Papua for the international community.
The Coordinator for the Asia Pacific Franciscans International Program, Budi Cahyono, told Tabloid Jubi that civil society asked the Council to press Jakarta to set a date for the UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression to visit Papua.
Other civil society groups that were present include groups include the World Council of Churches, VIVAT International, International Coalition for West Papua, West Papua Nezwerk, Tapol, and Minority Rights Groups International and Geneva for Human Rights.
They urged the UN Human Rights Council to ask Indonesia’s government to conduct investigation on the arbitrary arrests in Papua and other places, and to guarantee the rights of freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association for Papuans.