The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release 16 August 2011
Time to rethink ties with the Indonesian Special Forces unit, Kopassus.
In light of the leaked Kopassus documents AWPA is calling on the Australian Government to rethink its policy of ties between the Australian military and the Indonesian Special Force Group, Kopassus. The leaked documents show lists of West Papuans who are supposed to be supporting separatism when in reality they are members of civil society organisations concerned about the human rights situation and the welfare of the people of West Papua.
Joe Collins of AWPA said "the level of spying by the Indonesian military on West Papuans is oppressive, with agents spying at every level of West Papuan society. There is an obvious systematic campaign to intimidate both human rights defenders and the West Papuan peoples a whole ".
It is now Forty eight years since Indonesia took over administration of West Papua from UNTEA in 1963 and the West Papuan people still continue their struggle for justice and self-determination. The large peaceful rallies by thousands of West Papuans at the beginning of this month calling for a referendum indicate just how unhappy West Papuans are with Jakarta's rule over their lives.
Jakarta should be asking the question, why?
In May the military began a “socialising programme “ in Puncak Jaya with the idea of renovating homes, churches and markets while in July the people of the region suffered another military operation with reports of up to 600 members of the security forces involved in sweeps through the region resulting in civilian and military casualties. This is all reminiscent of the US programme in Vietnam to try and win the “hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people.
It is unfortunate that various sources in the security forces and government try to blame the troubles in West Papua on overseas involvement with one police official saying there are indications that there is "suspected foreign funding of the OPM ". Yet in December last year cables released by WikiLeaks in relation to West Papuan human rights revealed that US diplomats blame the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses.
To avoid the situation in West Papua deteriorating further Jakarta should take up the offer of dialogue from representatives of
civil society organisations in West Papua who have been calling on Jakarta for years to dialogue with the West Papuan people to try and solve peacefully all the issues of concern they have. As Winston Churchill is reported to have said "to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war
AWPA is urging the Australian Government yet again to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between the Australian military and the special forces unit Kopassus, until a full inquiry is held into the activities of these units in relation to human rights abuses in the archipelago.
Info. Joe Collins
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Mob. +61.2. (0)4077 857 97