Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Media release-Increasing tension in West Papua

Press Release West Papua
The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

26 October 2011

Increasing tension in West Papua



In light of the dangerously deteriorating situation in West Papua AWPA has again written to the Foreign minister (letter below)
urging him to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government to

call for the halt to any (or proposed) military operations in West Papua as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding further bloodshed.
We point out that during military operations in West Papua the security forces have great difficulty in distinguishing between civilians and what they term separatists

We also urge the Government to hold an inquiry into how our aid and training to the Indonesian military impacts on the lives of the West Papuan people

and in the short term to immediately halt any aid or training to any military unit found to have committed human rights abuses.



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Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088


The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600


26 October 2011


Dear Mr Rudd,

I am writing to you concerning the increasing tension in West Papua. I wrote to you on the 20 October concerning the crackdown by Indonesian security forces on delegates who were attending the 3rd Papuan People's Congress which was held between the 17 and 19 October. Reports now indicate that the casualties were more numerous than first thought. Six people have been confirmed killed and six charged with treason. A large number of West Papuans received serious injuries as they were beaten by the security forces with batons, bamboo poles and the butts of rifles during the arrest of up to 300 delegates. There may be more casualties as many of those attending the congress fled into the bush in fear of their lives from the security forces.

In other recent incidents around the giant Freeport copper and gold mine, three miners were ambushed by unknown gunmen and two other miners killed in a clash with police. The Mulia Police chief was also shot by unknown gunmen at Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya regency on Monday and an unidentified group also set fire to the Mulia food resilience office. As a result of these incidents and in an effort to tighten security and to conduct military operations for those responsible for the killing of the police chief, up to 300 members of the security are being sent to West Papua.

AWPA believes that this deployment of extra security will only increase fear amongst the West Papuan people who are already traumatised by numerous military operations that have taken place particularly in the Puncak Jaya region.

A report in the Jakarta Globe (25 October) said that human rights groups believed that there were “strong indications” that security forces committed rights abuses during last week’s deadly crackdown on a pro-independence rally in Abepura, Papua. An extract from the Jakarta Globe article
Ridha Saleh, deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said it appeared likely that officers assaulted and fired at participants at the Papuan People’s Congress, which took place last week. A day after the incident, the bodies of six participants were found near the local military headquarters, reportedly with gunshot wounds. “The participants did not put up any kind of resistance, yet they were taken down, beaten and shot at,” Ridha said. “That this resulted in fatalities clearly makes this a serious rights violation.”

The security forces always try to blame the OPM for many of the incidents that occur in West Papua. However, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a researcher with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said on Tuesday that it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of the recent spike in violence, but that there were only three elements influential enough to trigger the turmoil: the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM), the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and the police. “But we can’t really tell which one of them actually started the whole thing because the information coming out of Papua is limited and sketchy,” he said, adding that reports from security forces were also unreliable. In one scenario he points out that “But if it’s the TNI or National Police manipulating events to try to get more troops and supplies posted to Papua, then that’s even more worrying.”
He added that the tactic of boosting the security presence there by creating unrest was “not a new practice,” having been carried out frequently under the New Order regime. Earlier this year, the military said there was a need to increase the TNI’s presence in Papua, citing the province’s huge energy and mineral riches and increasing potential for secession.
AWPA points out that 300 security forces have just being deployed to West Papua.


In light of the dangerously deteriorating situation we urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government to

call for the halt to any (or proposed) military operations in West Papua as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding further bloodshed.
We point out that during military operations in West Papua the security forces have great difficulty in distinguishing between civilians and what they term separatists

We also urge the Government to hold an inquiry into how our aid and training to the Indonesian military impacts on the lives of the West Papuan people

and in the short term to immediately halt any aid or training to any military unit found to have committed human rights abuses.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)
CC. Indonesian Embassy, Canberra

Australian Embassy, Jakarta

various human rights organisatios and the media

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