Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cause for concern. Military sweeps in West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088

Senator the Hon Bob Carr
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House, Canberra
ACT 2600

11 June 2012

Dear Senator Carr,

I am writing to you with great concern about the possibility of coming military operations  in West Papua by the Indonesian security forces.   We have already raised concerns about the attack by the military on the village of Honai Lama, a sub district of Wamena in the Baliem Valley (letter dated 8 June).

However, in the last few days there have been a number of statements from security force personal that indicate military operations might take place in and around Jayapura.
A police spokesman for the National Police, Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said "that his force would deploy members of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) special operations unit to Papua” and  “we will send our best men to support the Jayapura Police as soon as possible because the shootings and stabbings need to stop”. In a report in the Jakarta Post on the 7 June, he also hinted that members from the elite police counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, could also be dispatched if “necessary”.

The head of Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman has also spoke  “of the need for a sweep of Jayapura for armed civilians following heightened violence in the capital of Papua province”. We note the security forces have not yet identified the perpetrators of many of the attacks and simply refer to them as armed gangs.

The opposition legislator Tubagus Hasanuddin, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission which oversees security affairs said  “It’s just strange that the government can’t solve a single case even after nearly 30 people have died recently in the province,” and  “It seems like the authorities are allowing [the violence] to happen.” 

The House Speaker Marzuki Alie also alleged that some people were deliberately orchestrating the bloodshed in order to grab power and get access to the province’s abundant natural resources.  “Some have used the chaotic condition there to benefit themselves,” he said.  Marzuki, a member of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, said that the shootings could indicate that people were fighting for control of natural resources and while he did not rule out the possibility that soldiers and local officials could be involved in the incidents, urged that the groups behind the incidents must be identified.

Also reported in the Jakarta Globe of the 10 June, Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, said he suspected that the authorities’ inability to solve any of the cases was due to the involvement of security officers in the incidents.  “although the military as an institution can’t be involved, some of its members might be. These incidents show that Jakarta has failed to address the problems in the province. The shootings indicate that the local officers don’t listen to the central government,” he said. 

The behavior of the Indonesian military during “sweeps” is of great concern as was seen by the recent attack by the military on the village of Honai Lama in Wamena.
The local paper Jubi on the 8 June reported that “the situation in Sentani, district of Jayapura, has become very tense causing a great deal of fear among the community, so much so that they are afraid to leave their homes following the death of a member of the KNPB, the National Committee of West Papua”.

Amnesty International in its statement dated 8 June said “Credible reports of human rights violations committed by the security forces continue to emerge in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, including torture and other ill-treatment, unnecessary and excessive use of force, including firearms, and unlawful killings”.

As Australia is involved in helping train the Indonesian military and in particular Detachment 88, which Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution has hinted could also be dispatched if “necessary” to West Papua. We again urge you to raise the behavior of the Indonesian security forces in West Papua with the Indonesian President and urging him to halt any proposed military sweeps in the territory.

The impact of these military operations are creating a traumatized population living in fear.

Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney) 

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