The Jakarta Post
Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman has been awarded the Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) for her work to expose alleged human rights violations in Papua and West Papua.
The award committee recognized Veronica’s effort in providing legal assistance for Papuans, investigating and documenting cases as well as sharing footage and information about alleged human rights violations in Indonesia’s easternmost regions.
“Amid the recent internet blackout and mass demonstrations in West Papua, Ms. Koman disseminated information about the escalating situation on social media and functioned as a key source of information to the outside world,” the ACFID said in a statement.
The ACFID is an Australian NGO whose work revolves around international development and humanitarian action.
Veronica received the award at the ACFID annual conference in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday evening.
“I dedicate this award to the victims of the crackdown that began in late August in West Papua, especially the dozens who have died at the hands of security forces, and the 22 political prisoners charged with treason,” Veronica said in her speech.
Veronica, a lawyer for the Papuan Student Alliance, has regularly tweeted videos of marches and rallies in various cities and regions since protests first broke out in the restive region on Aug. 19.
The first wave of protests prompted an internet blackout by the government in Papua and West Papua for several days starting on Aug. 21, making her tweets the only source of information from the provinces.
She is currently wanted by the East Java Police, who have named her a suspect and accused her of provoking the protests and riots in Papua and West Papua ─ many of which saw clashes between protesters and security personnel ─ that started in August.
ACFID CEO Marc Purcell called on the Australian government to give Veronica protection she was entitled to for her work as a “human rights defender”.
“To continue to do this work despite ongoing threats and intimidation shows the strength of [Veronica’s] conviction and her determination to speak out about the crisis in West Papua,” he said in a statement.
The Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award is presented annually since 2002 to honor any person or organization deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to promote human rights.
Past recipients of the award include journalist and human rights activist Behrouz Boochani and former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs. (gis)