AWPA letter to Aust Minister for Foreign Affairs re Puncak Jaya

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600
 19 July 2011
Dear Mr Rudd
I am writing to you concerning the Indonesian military operation that is occurring in the Puncak Jaya regency of West Papua. Media reports have indicated that up to 600 TNI personal are involved in “sweeping “ operations in the region. In the latest incident four civilians , one  women and  3 children were wounded when Indonesian troops from the Infantry Battalion 753 , who are based in Nabire  fired into huts in the villiage of Kalome while searching for members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The incident occurred on the 12 July.
These aggressive military operations in pursuit of the OPM leave the local people traumatised and in fear for their lives.  Many reports have pointed out the the security forces have great difficulty distinguishing  between what the term separatists  and the general public.  During these military operations villages are destroyed as well as  gardens and livestock. While the OPM are committed to peaceful dialogue, the retain the right to self defence and protecting the local people if attacked. Although the security forces try to blame all incidents in the area on the OPM, many attacks on the TNI are by unknown attackers .
Tensions are always high in the Puncak Jaya regency because of the regular military operations that occur in the area. Suspecion between the local people and the TNI remain high with the security forces  accusing locals of supporting  the OPM while the local people accuse the Indonesian military of human rights abuses.
In May the military began a “socialising programme “ in Puncak Jaya involving up to  300 Army, Air Force and Navy personnel . The programe is proposed to run for four months  and is to include the renovating of  homes, churches and markets. However, local people believe it is simply  a shield and a cover-up of the violation of human rights abuses that have occurred in the region. It is all reminiscent of the US programme to win the “hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.
The problems in West Papua won’t be solved by Jakarta  deploying more troops to the region or conducting more military operations. In September  last year the House of Representatives (DPR) Law Commission deputy chairman Tjatur Sapto Edy commenting on a report by Komnas HAM on past military operations  in the PUNCAK Jaya Rregion said  “there should be no more military operations and such approaches  are no longer suitable in a democracy”.
We urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government to
call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barrack as a way of easing tension and saving lives.
Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)
CC. The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Defence
Various human rights organisations

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