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Amnesty accuses Indonesian forces of 95 unlawful killings in Papua

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region.

The Indonesian government faces accusations of involvement in around 100 cases of unlawful killings over the past eight years in its easternmost province of Papua.

New York-based rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Monday that it had documented at least 95 cases of such killings carried out by security forces in 69 incidents in Papua between January 2010 and February 2018.

Usman Hamid, Amnesty’s executive director in Indonesia, said in a statement that security forces in Papua had for years been committing serious rights violations with impunity.

“This is a region where security forces have, for years, been allowed to kill women, men and children, with no prospects of being held to account,” said Hamid.

Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid is projected on a screen as he speaks during a briefing in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 2, 2018.

Papua became a province of Indonesia in 1969 after a highly controversial UN-backed referendum. It has since been hit by a separatist movement despite Indonesia’s continued efforts to stimulate economic progress in the poor region.  

Amnesty said 39 of the unlawful killings documented in its report were related to pure activism, including those that came in peaceful demonstrations, during which people had carried the Papua independence flag.

The report said Indonesian courts or other law enforcement agencies in the government had largely failed to bring those responsible to account, saying no security official had been tried or convicted over the deaths and only a few number of officers had faced disciplinary sanctions or military trials.

Amnesty said its report was a result of a two-year investigation and was based on interviews with authorities, victims’ families, activists and church-based groups, among others, in towns across Papua.

Indonesian police and military would not comment on the report, but an expert at the presidential office said Papua’s problem was a "complex" that needed more time to be resolved.

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