Sunday, August 26, 2012

Forum leaders should discuss human rights/military operations in West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) 
Media release 26 August 2012

Forum leaders should discuss human rights/military operations in West Papua

In his presentation to the to the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) on the 24 August, Tuiloma Neroni Slade the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said that one of issues to be discussed was that of regional security.  

Joe Collins of AWPA said "although it is to be expected that RAMSI  (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands) and the situation in Fiji will be the top security issues of concern, we hope the PIF leaders will not ignore the issue of West Papua[1] as it has in the past".  At the present time a security operation is ongoing in the Paniai region after a police officer was shot and killed. 

Authorities have also imposed a curfew in the district. The district police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Anton Diance said the police were tracking down those responsible for the killing. 

Activists in Paniai have reported that during the security operation the police raided homes and arbitrarily arresting innocent civilians. At least five homes were torched by police officers, the activists claimed, and at least 15 civilians were tortured. The police deny the claims saying they are in pursuit [of the suspects] according to procedures.

The Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said on Thursday that the government’s heavy-handed response to the recent shootings in Papua should not be misconstrued as a human rights violation, as it was a risk that had to be taken in locating the perpetrators.


“We will take all necessary action to track them down, so don’t blame us for any human rights violations, because they are the human rights violators who terrorize members of the security forces and the people of the land,” Djoko said at his ministry, after a coordination meeting with the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, and Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono on Thursday.

Joe Collins of AWPA said that "these statements are of concern as they imply the security forces can act with impunity in their sweeping operations". 

We call on the PIF leaders to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian government and also that they urge the Indonesian President to control his security forces in the territory. The West Papuan conflict should be of great concern to the Forum leaders and if it is ignored we will see increasing conflict in West Papua which in turn could affect the region".

AWPA wrote an open letter to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders concerning West Papua in May at,

 Govt to take all necessary measures on Papua violence
The Jakarta Post 08/24/2012 

[1] AWPA (Sydney) uses the name “West Papua” to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea. However, “West Papua” at this time is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

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