Outcry as Indonesia seeks to arrest renowned West Papua rights lawyer

07-Sep-2019 Intellasia | The Guardian | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Veronica Koman faces charges after being accused of spreading ‘fake news’ and inciting unrest

Indonesian police have named human rights lawyer and well-known West Papua advocate Veronica Koman as a suspect in the spreading of “fake news”, accusing her of provoking widespread unrest in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces.

In a move slammed by Amnesty International Indonesia, the human rights lawyer faces charges under the country’s controversial electronic information and transactions law, and faces up to six years in jail if found guilty.

Police specifically mentioned Koman’s posts about an incident in Surabaya in mid-August where military and nationalist militia were captured on video calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs”.

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East Java police said the lawyer had provoked and inflamed anti-racist riots that have swept across West Papua in recent weeks, and accused of her spreading fake news and provocative material.

Indonesian police say they have also contacted Interpol to seek assistance in locating the Indonesian lawyer, who they believe is abroad.

Indonesia’s National Commission of Human Rights slammed the move, saying Koman had attempted only to provide “necessary information from a different point of view”.

Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the move was deeply misguided. “The root of the real problem is the act of racism by some members of the TNI [Indonesian army] and the excessive use of force by the police in the student dormitory in Surabaya,” Usman told tirto.id.

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Since unrest has flared across West Papua divided into the two Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua in some cases erupting in violent and fatal clashes, Koman has proved a critical source of information, regularly updating her Twitter account with photos and videos that have provided a rare insight into the realities on the ground.

It comes at a time when internet access has been cut for more than two weeks in the remote area, which is restricted to foreign journalists.

Meanwhile in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, who until now has been blocked from the visiting West Papua, said on Wednesday that she was concerned about escalating violence.

“There should be no place for such violence in a democratic and diverse Indonesia, and I encourage the authorities to engage in dialogue with the people of Papua and West Papua on their aspirations and concerns, as well as to restore internet services and refrain from any excessive use of force,” she said, “Blanket internet shutdowns are likely to contravene freedom of expression and limiting communications may exacerbate tensions”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/05/outcry-as-indonesia-seeks-to-arrest-renowned-west-papua-rights-lawyer

 


Category: Indonesia

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