Human Rights Watch demanding Indonesia to release imprisoned Papua Activist

Human Rights Watch demanding Indonesia to release imprisoned Papua Activist


Margaret-Elisabeth Mc Coy 

Indonesia Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

In 2019, a group of students at a West Papuan university dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, were attacked by a racist troop compiled of security forces as well as members of militant groups. The Policies ended up arresting 43 Indigenous students after forcing them inside the dormitory and releasing teargas inside the building. After a video of the attack went viral online, protests in 30 other cities across Indonesia were reported in which some of them turned violent and ended up with Indigenous Papuans being killed in places such as Wamena and Jayapura. 

In 2020, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs have raised their concerns about the discrimination, intimidation, harassment, and criminalization of human rights defender in Papua to the Indonesian government (Human Rights Watch, 2022). They also raised the issue of the intimidation and arrest of Wensislaus Fatubun, a communications adviser to the official Papuan People’s Assembly. Along with 84 others, Fatubun was arrested on November 17th, 2020, after meetings were organized by the Papuan People’s Assembly in Merauke. 

Under the current administration of President Joko Widodo’, the Indonesian government is strongly quashing the independence movement of Papuans by increasing the numbers of troops and police in the region. There the troops are routinely infringing on Papuans' rights to freedom of association and expression; this includes criminal charges for the raising of the “Morning Star” Flag. This was the case on August 15th when seven Papuan students were sentenced by a prosecutor to a one-year sentence in prison for raising the “Morning Star” flag. 

The UN also expressed their concern for the situation and called on the Indonesian government to have an independent investigation into the reports of abuse of Indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian Authorities and allow unrestricted access of humanitarian aid to the region. 


Human Rights Watch (2022, August 15). Indonesia: Free Imprisoned Papua Activists, Human Rights Watch. Retrieved on 26 June 2022 from