Papuan Activist At Risk Following Beating

by Numbay Media June 20, 2011
Amnesty International reported Yones Douw, a human rights activist in the Indonesian province of Papua, was beaten by military officers on 15 June and has been denied medical treatment. He fears for his health and safety, as he has previously been detained and assaulted as a result of his human rights activities.

A protest took place at the 1705 District Military Command (Kodim) base in Nabire, Papua province, on the morning of 15 June, to call for accountability for the stabbing and killing of Papuan Derek Adii on 14 May 2011, reportedly by military officers from the 1705 District Military Command. At about 9am on 15 June, Yones Douw , a 42-year-old human rights activist, heard that a protest, which included family members of Derek Adii, was about to take place, and he went to the base to monitor it. Thirty minutes after he arrived, a group of protesters turned up in three trucks, broke into the front entrance of the base and started to shatter the windows and throw objects. Yones Douw immediately rushed into the base to calm the protesters.

In response, the military fired shots into the air and started hitting the protesters. Yones Douw was struck on the head with pieces of wood many times. He also sustained injuries on his shoulder and wrists from the beatings. As he was beaten he heard the military threaten to shoot the protesters saying “these animals should be taught a lesson”. A military officer also hit the father of Derek Adii, Damas Adii, with a piece of wood. After the beatings, Yones Douw travelled to the Siriwini hospital for treatment and to obtain a medical report, but was told by medical staff that he required a letter from the police before they could treat him. He then decided to go home and is still suffering from the injuries. He fears for his health and safety.

Amnesty Inernational said Yones Douw is a respected human rights activist in Papua and has been documenting human rights violations by the police and military over the last decade. In January 2009, police officers kicked and punched Yones Douw during his arrest, after he attempted to intervene to stop clashes between police and demonstrators in Nabire. He and seven other demonstrators were denied access to the outside world and he was deprived of food and drinking water during his one day detention.

In recent years, there have been a number of cases of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists in Indonesia, and human rights defenders are regularly intimidated and harassed in Papua. International human rights observers, non-governmental organizations and journalists are severely restricted in their work there.

According to the human rights organisation, Amnesty International continues to receive credible reports of human rights violations by the security forces in Indonesia, including torture and other ill-treatment and the unnecessary and excessive use of force. There are often no independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations, and those responsible are rarely brought to account before an independent court. In January 2011 three soldiers who had been filmed kicking and abusing Papuans were sentenced by a Military Court to between eight and 10 months’ imprisonment for disobeying orders. The fact that the victims were not able to testify because of the lack of adequate safety guarantees raised serious concerns about the trial process. Amnesty International believes that the civilian courts are much more likely to ensure both prosecutions for crimes involving human rights violations and protection for witnesses than the military system, which is unlikely to be impartial and independent.

An Amnesty International press release acknowledges the difficulties faced by security forces in Indonesia, especially when confronted with violence, the power to use force given to security forces is restricted by relevant international human rights law and standards, the basis of which is the right to life. The Indonesian authorities must ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all credible allegations of human rights violations by the security forces. Those found responsible, including persons with command responsibility, should be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness, and victims provided with reparations.