UN rights expert says Papuan detained in Indonesia at risk of dying
September 21 (Reuters) – A UN expert urged Indonesia to provide an independence activist in his province of Papua with proper medical treatment to “prevent him from dying in prison”, after reports that his health had deteriorated.
Victor Yeimo, 39, who is the international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee, was arrested in the provincial capital of Jayapura in May.
He was charged with treason and inciting violence and social unrest in connection with the independence protests that swept through the remote and resource-rich region for several weeks in 2019. Yeimo has denied the charges.
His trial took place in August despite repeated requests from his lawyer for a medical postponement, said Mary Lawlor, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, on Monday.
“I’ve seen it before: States deny medical treatment to sick and imprisoned human rights defenders, resulting in serious illness or death,” Lawlor said.
âIndonesia must take urgent measures to ensure that fate does not await Mr. Yeimo,â she said, adding that his access to medical care had been restricted and his conditions of detention âcould amount to torture â.
Asked about the treatment of Yeimo, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said his permanent representative in Geneva was preparing a statement on the matter.
Papuan separatists have been calling for independence for decades, saying a 1969 United Nations-supervised vote that brought the former Dutch colony under Indonesian control was illegitimate. Indonesia rejects this.
Yeimo is being treated at a hospital in Jayapura after a court ordered that he receive medical treatment.
Papuan activist Rosa Javiera told a press conference organized by rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday that Yeimo suffered from chronic tuberculosis requiring continued medical treatment.
“If he has to go back to the prison, we know his condition is very bad and bad for his health,” she said.
Additional reports from the Jakarta office; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel
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