Updated: 05/03/2013 01:35 | By Agence France-Presse

UN rights chief attacks police crackdown in Papua

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday expressed deep concern over a police crackdown on demonstrators in the Papua province of Indonesia in recent days that has reportedly left several people dead.


UN rights chief attacks police crackdown in Papua

Indonesian soldiers and plain clothes police establish a checkpoint on December 1, 2012 in Mimika, in Indonesia's restive Papua region. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday expressed deep concern over a police crackdown on demonstrators in the Papua province of Indonesia in recent days that has reportedly left several people dead.

"These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua," Pillay said in a statement.

Media reports show that police shot and killed two protesters in the city of Sorong who were preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of Papua becoming part of Indonesia, while at least 20 demonstrators were arrested in the cities of Biak and Timika on May 1, the statement said.

"During my mission to Indonesia last November, I expressed concern over Papuan activists being imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression," Pillay said, stressing that dissent was not a crime.

"It is disappointing to see more people arrested for peacefully expressing their views and I call upon the government to release all prisoners in custody for crimes that relate to their freedom of expression," she added.

Pillay pointed out that in the past year her office had received 26 reports concerning alleged human rights violations, including 45 killings and cases of torture involving 27 people in the Indonesian province, which comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands.

"While many incidents relate to communal violence, serious allegations of human rights abuses by law enforcement officials persist," the statement said, also stressing that as of March this year at least 20 political prisoners were being detained in Papua.

"There has not been sufficient transparency in addressing serious human rights violations in Papua," Pillay said, urging Indonesia to allow international journalists and UN observers into the province.

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