Papua visit shows President Widodo still neglecting human rights

As President Joko Widodo concludes a three-day visit to Papua, Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director said:

“Time and time again, President Widodo has made grand promises to appease Papuans. As he embarks on his second term, his government still fails to recognize that there is still a human rights crisis in Papua. A few photo opportunities and speeches about infrastructure and economic incentives will not paper over it.

“President Widodo visited Wamena today, but his government has yet to initiate a thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigation into last month’s tragedy there– one of Indonesia’s bloodiest days in 20 years. Security forces suspected to be responsible for human rights violations including cases of excessive use of force and criminal offences must be brought to justice  in fair trials.

“This pattern of unrest and brutal crackdowns has gone on for too long. It is time for a new approach, based on full and effective respect for the human rights of Papuans.”


On 23 September, in Jayapura, clashes broke between indigenous Papuan students and the police. The students pelted stones at security forces, who then opened fire on the students. The shooting led to the death of three students, wounding 20 others. A soldier was also stabbed to death by protesters during the incident. The police arrested 733 students in Jayapura during and after the clashes.

On the same day, in Wamena, hundreds of high school students took to the street to protest against a teacher allegedly using a racial slur against an indigenous Papuan student. The protest turned violent, leading to large-scale confrontations with the military. The following day, a police spokesman placed the death toll at 32.

President Joko Widodo visited Papua on 26-28 October, the first official trip of his second term. He visits several cities in Papua, including Jayapura and Wamena.