Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release 29 April 2014
AWPA calls on Foreign Minister to raise concerns about the situation in West Papua with Indonesia
As the 51st anniversary of the transfer of the territory of West Papua to Indonesia by The United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on the 1 May in 1963 approaches, AWPA has written to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop concerning the possible crackdown on any rallies called by civil society groups in West Papua to commemorate this tragic event in their history.
It should be remembered that on the 1 May last year as West Papuans gathered to commemorate this event in their history, the security forces cracked down on the peaceful demonstrators. The police shot and killed two protesters on the 30 April as they prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of the handover. Another activist who was also shot died of her wounds in hospital on the 6 May. In Timika fifteen people were arrested for simply raising their national flag, The Morning Star and six were arrested in Biak. In the town of Fakfak, the police hauled down the Morning Star flag which had been raised in a local school. Local people were also intimidated by the security forces during these rallies.
Joe Collins of AWPA said " We are concerned that the security forces will again crackdown on any civil society groups that hold rallies to commemorate the event leading to more human rights abuses”. In the past month they have been a number of incidents which has caused increasing tension in the territory, shootings on the PNG - West Papuan border and also in the Puncak Jaya region in the highlands. The security forces respond to these incidents with sweeps that cause fear in the local communities".
AWPA is urging the Australian Foreign Minister to raise concerns about the situation in West Papua with the Indonesian government asking that the Indonesian Government allow all peaceful rallies to take place without interference by the security forces and to also urge the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners unconditionally.
AWPA letter at