Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reply from DFAT to AWPA letter re 1st Dec.

Reply from DFAT to AWPA letter re 1st Dec.

Australian Government
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Collins

Thank you for your letter dated 28 November 2011 about the 50th anniversary of the Morning Star flag. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs , Mr Rudd.

The Australian Government follows closely developments in the Papuan provinces and Prime Minister Gillard discussed Papua with Indonesian President Yudhoyono during their most recent meeting in Bali on 20 November 2011. President Yudhoyono has made clear his determination to act firmly on human rights abuses by Indonesia's armed forces.

Our Ambassador in Jakarta has raised Australia's concerns with violence in the Papuan provinces with the Indonesian Government and has highlighted the need to investigate all abuses by the Indonesian security forces. On 1st December 2011 , our Ambassodor spoke with Indonesioan authorities and underlined the need for restraint. We understand that President Yudhoyono reiterated to security force commanders on 30 November his strong expectation that security forces would handle incidents in Papua on 1st December appropriately. We note that demonstrations on 1st December were relatively calm compared to previous years.

The Australian Government has discussed with Indonesia the issue of flag -raising in the Papuan provinces and the importance of safeguarding freedon of expression for all individuals. The Indonesian Government takles a firm stance against separatist activity , not least the display of what it perceives to be separatist symbols . Accordingly, a significant number of Papuan activists are currently imprisoned in Indonesia for raising the Morning Star flag.

You raised the specific case of Mr Filep Karma, a prominent Papuan activist gaoled under charges of subversion for his role in such a Morning Star flag raising .In May 2010 , Embassy staff in Jakarta made representations to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs , urging them to provide Mr Karma with access to additional medical care and legal representation , which he received a short time later. We have raised his case in the broader human rights context on subseqwuent occasions.

The Australian Government supports a vigorous and free press as a key feature of modern Indonesian democracy and will continue to highlight the importance of vibrancy and diversity within its media. Australia continues to underline the value to Indonesia of being seen to be open to international media.

Yours sincerely
G Ralp
Indonesian Political and Strategic Section
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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