Indonesia Orders ICRC Out of Papua Over Jail Visits

In one side, this time I should say it is bad for the improvement of human rights situation in West Papua, but on the other side there is a big question why ICRC so interested in criminal prisoner and not interested in terrorist prisoner? Or maybe from a conspiracy perspective there are hidden foreign efforts to destroy Indonesian democracy by supporting too much on secessionist rights.

Report By Sunanda Creagh

JAKARTA, April 23 (Reuters) – Indonesia has ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to leave the politically sensitive Papua region after its officials visited separatists in jail, the foreign ministry said.

Papua, the underdeveloped but resource-rich western half of New Guinea island where independence activists have waged a separatist campaign for decades, is geographically isolated and foreign journalists need special permission to visit.

There is a strong military and police presence in Papua, especially around the huge Grasberg copper and gold mine. Police recently shot demonstrators calling for a boycott of Indonesia’s April 9 parliamentary election.

Foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said that the government was offended both by the ICRC’s failure to obtain proper permission to operate in Papua and by the prison visits.

“Any organisation must be aware that, yes, this is a new Indonesia but we are a sovereign country,” Faizasyah told Reuters, suggesting that other aid organisations might also face a clampdown.

“They should not abuse our democratic reform and act as though they can do whatever suits their interests.” The ICRC said it runs sanitation projects in Papua and also visits detainees, including jailed members of the secessionist Free Papua Movement (OPM), to ensure they are treated properly.

“People accused of crimes which might be called subversion, or rebellion could be at risk of being discriminated against,” said Vincent Nicod, the head of the ICRC’s Indonesia delegation.

“When we visit detainees, it is not to look into the reason for the detention. It’s part of our activity relating to international humanitarian law to ensure that political prisoners are provided worldwide with decent conditions.”

The dispute follows last year’s release of stricter new rules on the funding of foreign non-governmental organisations in Indonesia. The foreign ministry’s Faizasyah said that the government first asked the ICRC to renegotiate the deal under which it operates in Indonesia in 2000 but the ICRC said talks stalled after the tsunami in December 2004 when 170,000 Indonesians died.

In March 2009, the government told the ICRC to close its Papua office and return to Jakarta to renegotiate the agreement. “Do they question our ability to manage our prisons? We have a free media now, functioning NGOs and if there is any mishap in the handling of an institution, it will, of course, be reported to the government,” said Faizasyah.

The ICRC’s Nicod said that the Indonesian government had approached the ICRC in early 2000 to rewrite the deal but said the existing agreement officially had no expiry date.

(Editing by Sara Webb and Alex Richardson)

3 Responses to Indonesia Orders ICRC Out of Papua Over Jail Visits

  1. Padric says:

    Dear West Papua Free,
    I have to say that I am very disappointed with you falling back into conspiracy theories. Leave the conspiracy theories to the crazy hardliners in the TNI or the just as crazy Papuan Separatists and their support groups. The ICRC have since 1876 are well known for their highly respected neutrality. If the Papuan Police were better trained and did not have a history of abusing separatist prisoners there would be no need for this incidence.

    This situation is not good and it will get worse. If this situation is not rectified within a week the NKRI will be criticized by highly respected organisations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and the International Crisis Group. If the situation is not rectified in a month the NKRI will be condemned by countries and organisations that have never heard of Papua. The longer this situation is allowed to occur the larger the polarisation between hardline groups in Indonesia and outside countries/organisations creating a more difficult situation for the NKRI.

    I can only suggest that Jakarta step in quickly and rectify the problem by announcing that it will negotiate with the ICRC for their return. This will end the criticism from outsiders while allowing hardliners to save face (as the ICRC will have to negotiate correct and respectful procedures).

  2. westpapuafree says:

    Padric my friend,

    As I said that I am not happy with the incident, and it will affect the improvement of human rights negatively.

    I am not a fan of conspiracy theory, but I can see that there was no coordination / good communication between Papuan local Police and ICRC.

    ICRC as a respectful international organization made a peculiar excuse of position that existing agreement officially had no expiry date. While, legally as you said the ICRC will have to negoiate correct and respectful procedures.

    Emotional feedback from the incident is quite strong, I will write to higher authority in Jakarta to understand the situation objectively. My question is who will tell Nicod (ICRC) to stop his arrogant attitude by bullying Papuan local Police in the name of the respectful ICRC? If Nicod shows his sincere observation to see the criminal prisoners in Papua and make a good communication with local authority, I am sure that Papuan local Police or even Jakarta will respect such activities. If ICRC should conclude the negotiation before the observation then why breaking the rule is the best choice for ICRC.

    It is a matter of simple communication that is being neglect.

  3. Robert says:

    Hi there,
    Do you have any information about Indonesian Military reform?

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