AWPA calls on Julia Gillard to raise the human rights situation in West Papua on her visit to Indonesia

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Media release   25 October   2010

AWPA calls on  Julia Gillard  to raise the human rights situation in West Papua on her visit to Indonesia

The Australian Prime Minister will visit Indonesia on the 1 and 2 November to discuss ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and increase cooperation across a number of economic, security, development and environmental challenges.

Joe collins of AWPA said “in light of the recent reports of torture of West Papuans we are calling on the Prime Minister to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President.
We are also calling on the Prime Minister  to send a parliamentary delegation on a fact finding mission to West Papua  to investigate the human rights situation in the territory”.

AWPA has regularly  raised concerns that any aid or training given to the military could be used against the West Papuan people  and we  again urge the Prime Minister   to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between  the Australian military and any Indonesian units found to have been involved in human rights abuses.

Although the Indonesian military said they would investigate the incident we believe  a full independent inquiry held  by a relevant United Nations human rights organisation will be the only
inquiry
acceptable
to the West Papuan people and are urging the Prime Minister  to call for such an inquiry.

Info. Joe Collins Mob. 04077 857 97

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Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088
Email: bunyip@bigpond.net.au

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

25 October 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney),  I am writing to you concerning your coming trip to Indonesia on the 1 and 2 November. AWPA would like you to raise the human rights situation in West Papua[1] during your talks with President Yudhoyono

I am sure  you are aware of the recent media reports on the torture of West Papuans by the Indonesian military in the Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. The torture of the West Papuans by the Indonesian military  was captured on video and shows in one scene a Papuan  man having a plastic bag forced over his head and screaming in pain as a burning stick is held to his genitals.  The horrific video has been seen around the world and rightly condemned. The Indonesian military has  confirmed that members of the TNI did torture the West Papuans.

Just days after the release of the video  another report surfaced of the burning of Bigiragi village, in the  Puncak Jaya district by officers from the police’s Mobile Brigade. An official from the Papuan Customary Council (DAP) told the Jakarta Globe  he had received graphic images of the destruction of Bigiragi village.

These incidents of human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian security forces are unfortunately not unusual and reports of  the Indonesian security forces conducting military operations looking for the OPM in the Puncak Jaya region  have been ongoing for years leaving the local people in fear and traumatised.

We understand that the whole island of New Guinea will always be strategically important to Australia and it is in the interests of the Australian Government to have a stable region to our north.  However, in West Papua, the policies of the Indonesian Government, compounded by the actions of the Indonesian security forces will lead to the very instability the Australian Government is trying to avoid.  Although Indonesia has made great progress towards democracy in recent years, unfortunately this has not translated to an improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua as the above incidents show.

AWPA and other civil society organizations have written regularly to Australian Governments over many years about our country’s ties with the Indonesian military. We have recently written to you concerning the torture of peaceful activists in Maluku. We have raised concerns that any aid or training given to the military could be used against the West Papuan people  and we again urge  you to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between  the Australian military and any Indonesian units found to have been involved in human rights abuses.

Although the Indonesian military said they would investigate the incident we believe  a full independent inquiry held  by a relevant United Nations human rights organisation will be the only  inquiry  acceptable to the West Papuan people and urge you to call for such an inquiry.  We also urge you to send an Australian parliamentary delegation on a fact finding mission to West Papua  to investigate the human rights situation in the
territory.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins
Secretary
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. “West Papua” at this time is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.