Thursday, September 6, 2012

1) We Need The Truth On West Papua

1) We Need The Truth On West Papua
2) House Seeks to Defuse Papuan ‘Time Bomb’


5 Sep 2012

1) We Need The Truth On West Papua

An Australian funded Detachment 88 unit in 2010.
As the killings in West Papua worsen, Australia's connections to Indonesian counter-terror police unit Detachment 88 must be examined, writes Greens Senator Richard di Natale
Severe abuses of human and democratic rights continue in West Papua as the indigenous population struggles for the right to decide their own future as a people. As the violence escalates, it’s important we know what role Australia is playing in supporting the Indonesian security forces working in the region.
As the news from our neighbours in West Papua worsens, it has become more urgent that we critically examine Australia’s connections to the alleged perpetrators of violence. This includes Detachment 88, an elite counter-terrorist unit that Australia helps to train. It appears that their remit has not been limited to counter-terrorism, as they appear to be engaged in "counter-separatist" operations against the indigenous people of West Papua.
Many Australians from right across the country have contacted me to urge advocacy and action on behalf of our West Papuan neighbours. I’m deeply concerned about how Australian funding is being spent and the level of accountability that goes with it. Human rights standards must be attached to the support we give to the Indonesian military and police. It’s time for Australians to have clear information about what our military and police training funding is supporting.
The recent history of West Papua is a violent one. The Indigenous people of West Papua have been waiting a long time to have a say in their own political future.
Self-determination, a right belonging to all people, was denied to them when a sham referendum ironically labelled the "Act of Free Choice" saw their land formally annexed to Indonesia in 1969. A true act of self-determination should have occurred, but it did not. The Papuans were denied their chance to vote on their future. Instead, there was an atmosphere of violence and intimidation, with 1022 hand-picked Papuans assembled, cajoled, bribed and threatened into voting to become part of the Republic of Indonesia.
During the many decades of Indonesian occupation since 1969 we’ve seen an alarming number of disappearances, imprisonments and deaths of West Papuan people, with strong evidence that many of these atrocities can be attributed to Indonesian security forces.
As Marni Cordell reported in New Matilda, details about Australia’s support for the Detachment 88 counter-terrorist unit are difficult to confirm. I’ve been working in the Parliament and in Senate Estimates to ask questions about Australia’s role in the imprisonment of political activists and deaths reported from the region.
So far, detailed answers have been difficult to come by. Our Foreign Minister states that our role in training these forces ensures that Australian standards of human rights protections are conveyed. That is commendable, but the evidence is mounting that these standards are not being upheld on the ground.
Detachment 88 has been alleged to be involved in several incidents over the past year, a particularly bloody one in West Papua. This includes the recent killing of West Papuan independence leader Mako Tabuni. Awareness about this killing was raised in Australia following last week’s reports on ABC’s 7.30. Two journalists went undercover into West Papua, despite significant restrictions on press movement in the region.
Of particular importance were the first-hand accounts that the 7.30 journalists gathered from observers of the killing of Tabuni. The evidence to demonstrate Detachment 88’s involvement was strong. Yet his family and fellow independence activists mourn without any process of justice to examine the circumstances of his death.
I was heartened by Minister Carr’s call for an inquiry into Mako Tabuni’s killing, when questioned about the evidence presented by the ABC. It is important that the Foreign Minister takes a leadership role. He needs to make it very clear to his counterpart in Indonesia that what’s going on in the region is unacceptable.
West Papua presents a challenge for Australian diplomacy and for the global community. It is a challenge that this nation and indeed the world is yet to meet. It’s important that Australia plays a role in supporting counter-terrorism training in our region. But this cooperative approach should be extended to upholding human rights.
Our partnership with Indonesia must be based on mutual respect and a mutual commitment to advance democracy and the rights of the region’s peoples. We should take seriously any reports that Australian-trained or Australian-funded Indonesian forces are acting with impunity in the troubled West Papua region.
2) House Seeks to Defuse Papuan ‘Time Bomb’
Ezra Sihite | September 05, 2012
The House of Representatives announced on Tuesday that it had set up working committees to address the tense security situation in Papua and West Papua provinces. 

Mahfudz Sidik, chairman of House Commission I, which oversees foreign and security affairs, said the two working committees were formed on Monday as part of the commission’s follow-up to a visit by legislators to the two provinces three months earlier in response to a string of armed attached blamed on separatists. 

Mahfudz, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the establishment of the committees was expected to prompt the government to take action, including initiating dialogues to address the underlying causes fueling the secessionist sentiment in the country’s easternmost provinces. 

He said the commission had identified several fundamental issues that needed to be resolved, the main one being the general lack of trust among indigenous Papuans toward the central and local governments. 

Another is the perceived redundancy of the presidentially appointed Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B). Other factors include long-held grievances over the discrimination against indigenous Papuans and the local governance crisis typified by the stalled gubernatorial election process. 

“All these fundamental problems have been allowed to fester without any solutions,” Mahfudz said. 

“If we continue to ignore them, we will be arming a time bomb.”


US military support for Indonesia questioned after call for peaceful ...

RNZI Posted at 04:17 on 06 September, 2012 UTC
The East Timor & Indonesia Action Network has questioned the US Secretary of State’s call for peaceful resolution to conflict in Papua when her government is providing more weapons to Indonesia’s military.
While in Indonesia this week Hillary Clinton has urged consultation between Indonesia’s government and the people of Papua.
She says the US deplores violence in Papua and has called for full and transparent investigations into recent killings there.
The Network’s John Miller says while the US speaks frequently about the need for human rights abuses in Papua to end, it is arming the people who are responsible for most of the abuse.
“The words are about human rights sometimes. But the actions are just, particularly under the Obama administration and in the later years of the Bush administration, are increasingly supplying the tools of violence to Indonesia’s military and police.”
John Miller
Meanwhile, Australia’s Defence Minister Stephen Smith has indicated his government will begin selling military equipment to Indonesia

RNZI  06 September, 2012 UTC
Indonesia’s House of Representatives has set up working committees to address the problematic security situation in Papua and West Papua provinces.
The two committees have been formed as a follow-up to a recent visit by legislators to the two provinces in response to ongoing violence in the region, including a string of killings that police attribute to unidentified gunmen.
The killings have been linked by officials to Papuan separatists, but human rights activists say the military is responsible.
The Jakarta Globe reports the chairman of the House Commission on foreign and security affairs, Mahfudz Sidik, as describing the problems in Papua as a ticking time bomb.
Mahfudz says they have identified several fundamental unresolved issues, chiefly the lack of trust among Papuans toward central and local governments.
He says the committees will help hasten dialogue to address the underlying causes of the secessionist sentiment in Papua.

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