Senator the Hon Bob Carr
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House, Canberra
25 February 2013
Dear Senator Carr,
I am writing to you concerning the latest incidents in West Papua. A number of soldiers and civilians were killed last Thursday when they were ambushed by unknown gunmen. We are concerned that the Indonesian military may target local people in the areas where the ambushes took place during security operations in the hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks.
You may remember the tragic events that occurred last June when the Indonesian security forces ran amok attacking the village of Honai Lama in Wamena in the Baliem Valley. During that attack a number of people were killed and wounded and a large number of houses destroyed. The attack on the village was sparked by a road accident in which a child was knocked down while he was playing by the side of the road by two soldiers on motorbikes from Kostrad, the Indonesian Army's strategic reserve. The villagers turned on the soldiers and in the melee that followed the soldiers were dragged from their motorcycles and one died after allegedly being stabbed. The revenge attack on the local villagers shows how unprofessional and undisciplined the Indonesian military can be.
AWPA is concerned that the military made take revenge on the local people because of the death of the soldiers in the recent incidents. We are concerned by statements by the Indonesia`s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin who said the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) will take a firm stand by conducting tactical action against the armed groups that killed eight military officers and five civilians in Papua on Thursday (Feb 21). "The tactical action includes to chase, apprehend and destroy," the deputy minister said here on Friday. (Antara News report). Statements such as this create fear in the West Papuan people who are well aware what sweeping operations against so call separatists mean.
AWPA calls on the Australian Government to use its good offices with the Indonesian Government to call for the halt to any (or proposed) military operations in West Papua as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding further bloodshed.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report regarding the torture of twenty prisoners at the Abepura Correctional Facility, Papua, on 21 January 2013. Information gathered by local activists reveals that the torture was conducted by three prison guards with the acquiescence of the head of the prison. The victims were beaten with bare hands as well as whipped with thick wire until some parts of their bodies were bleeding. Despite the injuries suffered the prison guards did not give any medical treatment to the tortured prisoners.
The AHRC also reported on the arbitrary arrest and torture of seven Papuans which took place on 15 February 2013. The victims were driving home in two cars when the police stopped them as they were looking for two pro-independence activists. The victims were later brought to the police station where they were further questioned on the whereabouts of the activists. They were severely beaten, kicked and electrocuted before five of them were released without charge the next day. However two of the victims still remain in police custody. They are being charged with possession of bladed articles which is totally unrelated with the police's initial unreasonable allegation.
Indonesia is a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the right not to be tortured is guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution.
We urge you to raise these grave matters of torture with the Indonesian President urging him to see that the victims are granted adequate medical treatment so their injuries are treated and that the torture allegations are impartially and effectively investigated and those responsible for it are charged according to law.