Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Letter in Vanuatu Daily Post

Letter in Vanuatu Daily Post

Vanuatu Daily Post

Re: Protecting human rights in Papua

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 8:00 am
Dear Editor,
The question that Sade Bimantara from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra should be asking himself is why, after 53 years of Indonesian rule, are the West Papuan people still marching in the streets and risking arrest and torture at the hands of the Indonesian security forces?
One has only to look at the banners that people are carrying in the peaceful rallies they hold, “We want a referendum”, ”Let us freedom” and “We never accept Indonesia in West Papua” (just a few examples) to realise why. They indicate a total failure by Jakarta to win over the West Papuan people.
It’s true that Indonesia has improved greatly since the fall of Suharto but there has been no improvement in West Papua. On the 2 May up to 1,800 people were arrested in peaceful rallies that were called to show support for the bid by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and to support the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) who were meeting at the Houses of Parliament in London to discuss the issue.
Although the majority of activists were eventually released, during the arrests in Jayapura a large number of activists were taken to the Mobile brigade (BRIMOB) headquarters and made to remove their shirts and put in a field in the extremely hot midday sun.
The local media also reported that seven activists were tortured. This is just one recent example of the oppression of the West Papuan people.
Sade Bimantara needs a reminder from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states,
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (Article 19)
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (Article 20)
It should be remembered that all aspects of society in West Papua are committed to a peaceful way forward including the OPM.
Mr Bimantara mentioned incidents of armed clashes between the Indonesian security forces and armed groups but does not mention the fact that over 100,000 West Papuans have died since Indonesia took over administration of the territory.
The Pacific Islands Forum leaders are interested in undertaking a fact finding mission to West Papua.
If the Indonesian Government has nothing to fear it should welcome such a mission.
Joe Collins
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

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