• Human Rights Watch

Indigenous Papuans Facing Abuses in Indonesia

August 17, 2022

A Papuan activist with his face painted with the colors of the separatist Morning Star flag shouts slogans during a rally near the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia. [Image Source: © 2019 AP Photo/Dita Alangkara]

Cited article by Human Rights Watch


HRRC joins Human Rights Watch in calling for charges against Papuan protestors to be dropped. Papuans have the right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest. The ongoing divisions imposed on Papuan territory is further increasing tensions and the rights of all must be supported.


Article Summary


Human Rights Watch is calling on the Indonesian government to drop charges and release Papuans who have been imprisoned for three years; all were charged with politically motivated treason and for peacefully protesting. For decades, Indigenous Papuans have faced discrimination, harassment, wrongful arrests, and violence without any justice. In 2019, a racially-motivated mob forced their way into a student dormitory of West Papuan in the East Java city of Surabaya and fired tear gas inside. 43 of the students were arrested afterwards for "failing to raise the Indonesian flag outside the dorm to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day" and, after being released, had to sleep outside for nearly a month due to lingering tear gas.


Protests in the country erupted after these arrests. In some cities the protests turned violent, and both Indonesian settlers and Indigenous Papuans were killed. In the following months, Indonesian authorities arrested 22 peaceful protestors under treason charges. There are also reports that those imprisoned lack access to health services. Further, Indonesia has decided to split the Papua province into four separate provinces, risking increased militarization and control by the Indonesian Government over the resource-rich area.