Monday, November 28, 2016

Media release- AWPA letter to Aust. Foreign Minister re 1st December in West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release 29 November 2016

AWPA letter to Australian Foreign Minister re 1st December in West Papua

AWPA  has written to the Australian Foreign Minister re 1st December in West Papua

Civil Society groups in West Papua have again called for people to celebrate their national flag day. AWPA is concerned the security forces will crack down on any peaceful rallies called.

 Joe Collins of AWPA said“Throughout the past year the security forces in West Papua have been cracking down on rallies held by civil society groups resulting in thousands of peaceful activists arrested.  As recently as the 26 November, 14 activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested in Manokwari simply for handing out leaflets about an upcoming rally to be held on the 1st December and on the 19 November 106 KNPB activists were arrested in Sorong while celebrating the eight anniversary of the of the KNPB.

AWPA has called on the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop 
to use her good offices with the Indonesian Government asking that it control its military in West Papua and asking it to inform the security forces that it should allow any rallies called to celebrate West Papuan National flag day to go ahead peacefully, without interference from the security forces.

AWPA has also asked the Foreign Minister not only to refuse the request of the Indonesian defence minister for Australia to pressure the Pacific countries to stop raising the issue of West Papua in global forums and called on the Foreign Minister to support  the Pacific leaders in calling on Jakarta to allow a PIF facing mission to West Papua. 

The Australian Government should realise the issue of West Papua is not going away and should be doing all it can to also raise concern about the human rights situation with the Indonesian Government and at the UN. Australia should be following the example of the seven Pacific leaders who raised the issue of West Papua at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2016. 



AWPA letter to Foreign Minister 


The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Foreign Minister
House of Representatives

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600


29 November 2016

Dear Foreign Minister,

I am writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua.

The 1st of December is West Papuan National day or National Flag day. Fifty Five years ago on the 1st of December 1961, the Morning Star flag was flown for the first time officially beside the Dutch Tricolor.  The Dutch were finally about to give the West Papuan people their freedom. However it is one of the great tragedies that at their moment of freedom it was cruelly crushed and West Papua was basically handed over to Indonesia in 1963. After 6 years administration of the province, Indonesia held a sham referendum called the “Act of Free Choice” under UN supervision.  The Papuans call this the’ act of no  choice’.

The West Papuan people continue to raise their flag as an act of celebration but also of protest against the injustices they suffer under Indonesian rule. They can face up to 15 years jail for doing so. 

On the 1st December each year the West Papuan people celebrate their National Flag day and at past celebrations people have been arrested, received long prison terms and in some cases faced torture.

During the anniversary last year at least 306 Papuan students were arrested by the Police in Jakarta. Hundreds of AMP (Papua Students Alliance) members and approximately 400 police were involved in clashes after the police tried to disperse the crowd using tear gas.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) also condemned the police for attacking and threatening several journalists covering the rally. 

Civil Society groups in West Papua have again called for people to celebrate their national flag day. AWPA is concerned the security forces will crack down on any peaceful rallies called.


Throughout the past year the security forces in West Papua have been cracking down on rallies held by civil society groups resulting in thousands of peaceful activists arrested.  As recently as the 26 November, 14 activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested in Manokwari simply for handing out leaflets about an upcoming rally to be held on the 1st December and on the 19 November 106 KNPB activists were arrested in Sorong while celebrating the eight anniversary of the founding of the KNPB.


We also note Jakarta’s request to Canberra urging Australia to pressure the Pacific countries to stop raising the issue of West Papua in global forums. The request from the Indonesian Defence Minister urged Australia to pass a message to Solomon Islands that it should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Indonesia, including on the issue of West Papua.

We would like to point out that the Indonesian Defence minister said of the soldiers who killed Chief Theys Eluay (chairperson of the Papuan Presidium Council) in November 2001, (The defence Minister was chief of the Indonesian army’s strategic command at the time),   ’I don’t know, people say they did wrong, they broke the law. What law? Okay, we are a state based on the rule of law, so they have been punished. But for me, they are heroes because the person they killed was a rebel leader.'

Hopefully this year the security forces will allow the West Papuan people to celebrate their National Flag day peacefully and not resort to their usual heavy handed approach to any peaceful rallies called by the West Papuan people.

Not only should Australia refuse the request of the Indonesian defence minister but
should be supporting the Pacific leaders in calling on Jakarta to allow a PIF facing mission to West Papua. The Australian Government should realise the issue of West Papua is not going away and should be doing all it can to also raise concern about the human rights situation with the Indonesian Government and at the UN. Australia should be following the example of the seven Pacific leaders who raised the issue of West Papua at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2016.

I urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government asking that it control its military in West Papua and asking it to inform the security forces that it should allow any rallies called to celebrate West Papuan National flag day to go ahead peacefully, without interference from the security forces.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins

AWPA (Sydney)

No comments:

Post a Comment