13 April, 2012
Media Release: Prime Minister John Key urged to raise human rights issues in West Papua during his forthcoming visit to
Prime Minister John Key must not overlook the ongoing suffering, killings and gross restrictions of fundamental freedoms in
West Papua when he talks to Indonesian Government leaders. IHRC has faxed him a letter on the eve of his departure to highlight recent gross injustices – including military sweepings and the arrest on trumped up ‘treason’ charges of respected Papuan leaders. Letter follows
For further information Maire Leadbeater 09-815-9000 or 0274 436 957
13 April, 2012
Rt Hon John Key,
Fax 04 499 0704
We understand that you are about to visit
, and this morning’s media report suggests that you will seek to encourage a ‘warmer’ relationship. Indonesia
Your visit follows that of the British Prime Minister David Cameron, who chose the occasion of his visit to announce the relaxation of arms exports to Indonesia as a recognition of Indonesia’s ‘democratic progress’. This move has been condemned by human rights groups as a threat to the interests of the people of
West Papua, who have been on the receiving end of Indonesian military violence for decades.
According to the data collected by British human rights group, TAPOL, since 2008 at least 80 Papuans have been arrested and charged with ‘treason’ or related offences simply for peaceful actions such as raising the Papuan Morning Star Flag. They have been imprisoned for terms ranging from 10 months to six years. For example, Filep Karma, a civil servant, and Amnesty International ‘prisoner of conscience’ was arrested in December 2004, convicted of treason and sentenced to fifteen years in jail.
We have been writing to you and to Foreign Minister Mc Cully to urge you to speak out about the events in October 2011, when the Third Papuan People’s Congress was held in Jayapura, attended by hundreds of people from across the country. This peaceful Congress was violently dispersed by police and army troops who opened fire without any provocation and killed at least three people.
Since then some 17 police personnel have received ‘administrative sanctions’ but no one was held accountable for the deaths, or for the unprovoked violence which caused injuries to at least 90 people or for the arbitrary arrest of some 300 people.
The Indonesian military continue to enjoy impunity, while the five Papuan leaders (Selfius Bobii, Agus Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut, Edison Waromi, and Forkorus Yoboisembut) , who were taken into custody following the Congress were put on trial, found guilty of treason and last month sentenced to three years in prison.
We believe that the decision to convict and imprison these men for their involvement in an entirely peaceful event decision flies in the face of
’s professed commitment to international human rights norms. Declaring a wish or commitment to freedom and independence is not ‘treason’. Indonesia
We understand that
New Zealand diplomatic representatives have monitored events in West Papua and followed (but did not observe) the conduct of this trial. So you will be aware of the many criticisms of the trial process, and the heavy presence maintained by armed members of the security forces during the trial sessions. We urge you to raise these issues during your meetings with Indonesian Government representatives.
West Papuan leaders are calling for the opportunity to take part in a peaceful dialogue with representatives of the
government as a first step towards addressing the territory’s deep problems and ongoing suffering. We urge you to support this constructive proposal. Jakarta
Human Rights Committee) Indonesia