Women’s Lives Are Not Trivial: UN Stands Against All Forms of Violence
Our attention is drawn by an opinion entitled “UN silence on West Papua” published in Post Courier newspaper on 17 June 2020.
The United Nations reiterates its grave concern over acts of gender-based violence. It is not a private issue; it is a human right issue and a public health emergency that places a preventable strain on the country’s limited health and social resources while causing immeasurable physical, psychological, and social harm.
The UN has also recently expressed concern on alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. In September 2019, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet acknowledged “local human rights defenders, students and journalists have been facing intimidation and threats and should be protected.” The High Commissioner said “There should be no place for such violence in a democratic and diverse Indonesia, and I encourage the authorities to engage in dialogue with the people of Papua and West Papua on their aspirations and concerns, as well as to restore internet services and refrain from any excessive use of force.”
The United Nations in Papua New Guinea has been closely working with the national and local authorities as well as other partners to address the humanitarian and protection issues of West Papuan refugees and asylum seekers since the 1990s. We continuously advocate for them to the national government, which maintains primary responsibility for their welfare, to ensure their basic needs are met and rights are afforded to them from when they enter the country.
The United Nations works to defend human rights for citizens around the world, recognizing that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” This is true of West Papuans and it is true of Papua New Guinean women and men. It is also true of children who are witness to, and victims of, gender-based violence and sexual abuse every day.