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Jakarta Post

'Probably just trash': Mahfud MD dismisses details on West Papua civilian death toll

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, February 12, 2020   /   12:08 pm
'Probably just trash': Mahfud MD dismisses details on West Papua civilian death toll Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD (right), accompanied by Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto (left), gives a press statement after holding a meeting in Jakarta on Feb.2. The meeting was held to discuss hundreds of Indonesian citizens who had been evacuated to Natuna district from Wuhan, China. (Antara/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has dismissed documents on the victims of human rights violations in West Papua recently handed over to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, calling them unimportant.

The documents were handed over by Amnesty International Australia and Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman and fellow activists during the President’s state visit to Australia.

Mahfud claimed the documents, which contain details on 57 political prisoners and 243 civilians who had been killed in Nduga, Papua since December 2018, were “trash”.

“[The President] has received many such letters. People came up to him to shake his hands in admiration, while at the same time handing over folders and letters to him. We don’t know which ones were submitted by [Veronica] Koman,” Mahfud said.

Jokowi might have not read the documents due to the sheer number of letters he received regularly, he added.

“Regular citizens also send letters to the President. If [Veronica] indeed [handed over documents], they end up as trash,” Mahfud said.

Read also: Activists hand details on West Papua civilian death toll to Jokowi

Veronica responded to Mahfud’s comments, saying that his dismissive remarks would only exacerbate the collective pain experienced by Papuans.

“It’s such a shame; [Mahfud’s remarks] are likely to exacerbate their pain,” she said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.

She went on to say that she was not surprised that Mahfud had dismissed the documents, considering that the minister had also made statements in the past that reflected his cavalier attitude toward human rights issues.

“[Mahfud] previously made a statement that hurt a lot of people, that there was no single human rights violation that occurred under Jokowi’s presidency. It’s not surprising to hear a similar statement from him,” she said.

Read also: Wamena investigation: What the government is not telling us

Veronica said in a statement on Monday that her team in Canberra handed over letters to Jokowi directly during his visit with Australian government officials in the neighboring country’s capital.

The letters included the names and locations of 57 political prisoners charged with treason and held behind bars in seven cities across Indonesia, as well as the names and ages of 243 civilians who had died during the Nduga military operation since December 2018, she said. (rfa)