Amnesty International Indonesia urges local police to revoke the status of suspects named to Veronica Koman in connection with Twitter posts about an incident that triggered unrest in Papua - Photo: Amnesty International Indonesia

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Amnesty International Indonesia urges local police to revoke the status of suspects named to a prominent human rights lawyer and activist Veronica Koman in connection with Twitter posts about an incident that triggered unrest in Papua, the group said in an official release on Wednesday (09/4).

Previously, the apparatus accused Koman of sharing hoax information about student racism in Surabaya, East Java, on August 16. They said Koman’s tweet has triggered riots in Papua and West Papua over the past week.

Amnesty International’s Executive Director, Usman Hamid, said the determination of the suspect showed that the government and the apparatus did not understand in solving the roots of the Papua protests which had been in public discussion for more than two weeks.

“The root of the real problem is racialism by some members of the army and excessive use of force by the police in the student dormitory in Surabaya,” Hamid said.

If the police accusation is Koman ‘provoking’, he went on, then the question that must be answered by the police is who has been provoked to break the law due to Koman’s post on Twitter?

“What the police must focus on is those who incite those who come to encircle and carry out persecution and acts of racism against Papuan students in Surabaya,” he said adding that it is also important for the police to inspect its members who fired tear gas and broke down the doors of Papuan student dormitories.

The group rated that criminalization of Koman will make others afraid to speak or use social media to expose all forms of human rights violations related to Papua. If there is inaccurate information provided by Koman, the police should provide clarification rather than criminalizing it, Hamid stressed, adding that the government should also open access for all parties to verify it objectively.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also spoke out on reports of militias being used against protesters in West Papua and Papua.

“This is part of a trend that we have observed since December 2018 and we have discussed our concerns with the Indonesian authorities. There should be no place for such violence in Indonesia as a democratic and diverse country,” said Bachelet through the official website on Wednesday (09/4).

Bachelet also called for an internet recovery in the region, which has been partially closed since protests began, two weeks ago. He said the power cuts were “likely to conflict with freedom of expression,” and called on Indonesian authorities to dialogue with people from both provinces.

The UN response was welcomed by the Head of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua Benny Wenda, the first person after Koman who was considered by the Indonesian government to be the main cause of the recent unrest in Papua and West Papua.

He said the UN Human Rights Commission needed to follow up with a visit to the region, to investigate reports of human rights violations.

On the other hand, the Indonesian government is gradually restoring restrictions on internet data in Papua and West Papua starting Wednesday (09/4).

In a written statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said the internet blocking policy had been lifted in 19 districts, viz. Keerom, Puncak Jaya, Puncak, Asmat, Boven Digoel, Mamberamo Raya, Mamberamo Tengah, Intan Jaya, Yalimo, Lanny Jaya, Mappi, Tolikara, Nduga, Supiori, Waropen, Merauke, Biak, Yapen, and Sarmi.

Ten other districts, namely Mimika, Paniai, Deiyai, Dogiyai, Jayawijaya, Bintang Mountains, Numfor, Jayapura City, Yahukimo, and Nabire, are still being monitored for the next one to two days.

The government has also restored internet networks in ten districts in West Papua. They are Fakfak, South Sorong, Raja Ampat, Bintuni Bay, Wondama Bay, Kaimana, Tambrauw, Maybrat, South Manokwari, and Arfak Mountains.

As for Sorong city, Sorong district, and Manokwari city, access there is still limited, and monitoring will continue for the next few days.

The apparatus has set as many as 68 suspects in the demonstration that led to the riots that occurred in Papua and West Papua. According to the apparatus, five people died as a result of the riots, consisting of four protesters and one soldier. But the data was denied by the Catholic Church in Papua and said if there were eight protesters who died.

Written by Marcel Gual, Email: