Human rights violations become the most interesting issue in Papua not only because of the legal dimension but also because of the political and economic reasons. Sometimes, the struggle for justice is intersected with efforts of many individuals and institutions to establish the existence and to gain recognition as well as the struggle to achieve sovereignty over this rich land.
Stigma triggers human rights violations in Papua. It relates to the discrimination to the Papuans on the freedom of association and expression. The gap in perceptions generates suspicion and intimidation. The authority views peoples’ social aspirations and criticisms in the negative light, and will document the deeds as a criminal ‘savings.’ This legal injustice causes the state to be the only source of truth and rules to be a tool of power.
Economic, social, and cultural rights’ violations occur in many forms, such as in land grabbing, exploitation of natural resources, and the failure to build the partnership program with the local community. The quality of health services and education is bad, but no institution is being held responsible. The government’s policy of ‘economic equity’ that is conducted by handing cash to the poor has significantly changed the pattern of people’s dietary habit and lifestyles. High statistics of the criminal case should not be seen as an isolated issue because it profoundly influenced by structural problems. The structural problems are due to social injustice and the absence of professional legal process from previous criminal cases. Moreover, criminality disrupts the social relationships in the society and enhance the potency of horizontal conflict.
In his presidential election campaign in June 2014, President Jokowi has promised to give particular attention to Papua because Papua is important for Indonesia. As part of fulfilling his promises, President Jokowi granted clemency to political prisoners in 2015. However, repression to the freedom of assembly and expression continues. In April 2016, president Jokowi, through the Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs, confirmed that development in Papua would be done holistically and the resolution of human rights issues would be included. In May 2016, the government created a team namely the Integrated Team for the Settlement of Human Rights Violations in Papua. The government promised to settle cases of human rights violations by the end of 2016. It also pledged that development policy in Papua would pay attention to the local context by taking into consideration the Papua’s seven customary regions. In practice, however, development in Papua is focusing on infrastructure same as the focus of development in other provinces in Indonesia. No local contexts are being taken into consideration. The holistic development approach did not materialize, and there is no following news on the Integrated Team’s activities.
It is clear that President Jokowi consistently distances himself from his commitment to resolving human rights issues in Papua. The government worries that efforts to resolve human rights violations in Papua will confirm the allegations of crimes against humanity in Papua that can be used as ammunition by opponent groups, especially the pro-independence group. Therefore, the settlement of human rights violation cases is conducted only for political commodities. The effort is just to resist the rise of the Papuan issue in the Pacific and other parts of the world and is not intended for victims’ justice.
The proof that the government is not serious in settling human rights cases can be found, for example, on the closure of the Paniai case 2014. The case occurred in the first half of Jokowi administration, and there is no closure despite many investigations have been conducted. The closures of the case of Wasior 2001 and Wamena 2003 are also vague. The ruler usually tried to protect the security apparatus by arguing that the actions of the security apparatus were procedural; In other words, the actions that were done against the victim were proper actions. In other cases, if mistakes were acknowledged, it is then blamed on ‘bad officer.’ In those cases, the state accountability is absent, and there is no due process of law or customary settlements. The ruler reduces suspected cases of human rights violations to criminal cases. At the same time, public opinion is formed, and it moves quickly precedes (and halts) the pro-justice process. Some civil society’s institutions help running the agenda of public opinion formation.
Without transparency, it is doubtful that cases of human rights violations can be resolved. The ‘hostage drama’ event in Tembagapura in November 2017 attracts many questions. Who mobilized the miners? Where did the miners come from and where did they go? Why were the indigenous villagers being evacuated? Who is the group of so-called the KKB (armed criminal group)? Where are the positions of the Police, the military, the management of PT Freeport, and the government in the conflict vortex? What are the relationships between them? Have there been any perpetrators of violence around PT Freeport’s mining area captured? What parts are still hidden from the case of Wasior 2001, Wamena 2003, Paniai 2014 and other cases? There are still many unanswered questions about Papua’s human rights violations cases.
It is crucial to always self-reflecting whether in the human rights struggle we remain consistent, or we just participate in the political space or treat the case limited only to the news materials that can quickly be forgotten, or merely to maintain our institution’s existence and recognition, or just an intellectual exercise. So, for a human rights defender, the main thing is always to ‘suspect’ yourself and to stay consistent to be honest and fair regardless of the difference or free from fear of any intervention. Moreover, of course, in the state level, President Jokowi is expected to fulfill his pledge and to carry out his obligation to protect human rights in Papua through legal, transparent, professional, and impartial processes. (AlDP).