Australia keen to follow developments in West Papua

Bintang Papua,

27 March 2012

There has been growing international interest in the situation in Papua.

This is apparent from the fact tht two countries have instructed their
embassies  to visit Papua and West Papua.

A while ago, the Dutch ambassador made a visit there and then it was the turn of the Australian embassy to make a visit.

Yesterday, the Australian Political Counsellor Ralph Gregory together with Emily Whelan who is the second secretary at the embassy held meetings with the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and the Papuan branch of  Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commision.

Unfortuntely, these meetings did not take place in public, and as a result of which journalists were unable to report on what had been discussed.

The deputy chairman of Komnas HAM, the Rev. Hofni Simbiak said that the Australian visit had been a working visit which happens every year as required by the Australian government.

He said that the Australian embassy had requested information from all stakeholders  in Papua who are following developments there. ‘This relates for instance to the implementation of UP4B, regarding which the embassy wanted to know whether this had been socialised  and whether Papuans themselves were aware of this new regulation.

He also said that wherever new districts had been formed, there should be an MRP in each one, with the approval of the central MRP.

As regards requirements with regard to people standing for election as governors of the districts who should should be indigenous Papuans, he said that this was very important indeed, so as to ensure that these people are true leaders of their people and not just the long arm of the central government, which has been the case for such a long time.

He also said there needs to be clarification about the problems to be dealt with by the UP4B in a situation where we, as the cultural organisation for the Papuan people, have the right to express an opinion.

He said it was not clear who was responsible for organising the election of governors. Members of the MRP feel that this problem has been dragging on for years and if it is not resolved soon, the Papuan people will be the ones to suffer as a result. ‘If there are any errors in the election regulations, it should be immediately discussed  so as to ensure that the elections are peaceful.’

Diplomats from the Australian embassy also held a meeting with Frits Ramandey, secretary of Komnas HAM to discuss the human rights of the Papuan people, bearing in mind that hundreds of Papuans have died recently as a result of political conflicts.

Ramandey said that indeed, a large number of Papuans  had suffered violations of their human rights such as during the recent incident in Puncak Jaya  when hundreds of people had lost their lives.

(it is not known if the diplomats specifically brought up the military sweep operations currently being conducted with the involvement of Australian financed, armed and trained Kopassus and Detachment 88 counter-terrorist across Papua, which have been responsible for countless brutalities and village burnings in anti-separatist raids for the past year. WPM)

With regard to the legal status of Komnas HAM, he said that the commission had submitted a draft to the government for Komnas HAM to have a much stronger legal status  so as to be able to help the Papuan people to resolve these violations. It also drew attention to the fact that OTSUS, the Special Autonomy law for Papua, stipulated that Komnas HAM must be able to guarantee the basic rights of the Papuan people.

There was also a discussion about the rights of Papuan people living in
Australia who need legal protection.

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