Monday, April 16, 2012

AWPA letter to Rt Hon David Cameron, MP.

Rt Hon David Cameron, MP.
Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street
London SW1

16 April 2012

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) in Sydney concerning your visit to Indonesia. AWPA is particularly concerned that your Government will allow the sale of military equipment to Indonesia. Although it is true that Indonesia has made great progress towards democracy in recent years this has not translated to democracy in West Papua[1]
In the past year the human rights situation in West Papua continued to deteriorate with the Indonesian security forces conducting numerous military operations throughout West Papua in 2011.  In January 2011, three soldiers were put on trial for the torture of two West Papuan men that was captured on video and circulated on the Internet in October 2010. The video footage caused outrage around the world. The soldiers received light sentences of between 8 and 10 months and were not even charged with torture but with disobeying orders. The message West Papuans take from this is they will receive no justice under Indonesian rule. A number of articles in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 2011 reported on leaked Kopassus documents which showed lists of West Papuans who are supposed to be supporting separatism when in reality they are members of civil society organisations concerned about the human rights situation and the welfare of the people of West Papua. The documents show that the level of spying by the Indonesian military on West Papuans is oppressive, with agents spying at every level of West Papuan society. There is an obvious systematic campaign to intimidate both human rights defenders and the West Papuan peoples a whole . A large number of rallies also took place throughout the year with demonstrators calling for their right to self-determination, for a referendum and rejecting the special autonomy package.
In October 2011 there was a crackdown on the 3rd Papuan Peoples congress where security forces used excessive force when arresting up to 300 Papuans. Up to six people were reported killed and five of the organisers arrested and charged with treason. They received three years in prison for subversion.  At no time did these men commit violence and they have been jailed solely for peacefully expressing their political views as is their right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As opposed to the three year sentence given to the five activists, no action was taken against the security force personal who were involved in the brutal crackdown and they received only written warnings. 
Amnesty International in its annual report 2011 on Indonesia states  
The security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, and used excessive force against protesters, sometimes leading to death. No adequate accountability mechanisms were in place to ensure justice or act as an effective deterrent against police abuses. The criminal justice system remained unable to address ongoing impunity for current and past human rights violations. Restrictions on freedom of expression were severe in areas such as Papua and Maluku.
In May 2012 it will be forty nine years since Indonesia took over administration of West Papua from UNTEA in 1963 and the West Papuan people still continue their struggle for justice and self-determination. The large number of peaceful rallies by thousands of West Papuans calling for a referendum indicate just how unhappy West Papuans are with Jakarta's rule over their lives. Jakarta and the international community should be asking the question, why?
We urge you to rethink the sale of military equipment to Indonesia as we believe any equipment sold to Indonesia could be used against the West Papuan people.
Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney) 

[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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