In West Papua, massive gold mines dump toxic sludge into river systems, an independence movement is aggressively crushed by Indonesian soldiers and political leaders are assassinated – and only rarely do we hear about it. In response to an Indonesian media blackout in the region, a variety of people inside and outside West Papua formed West Papua Media, an organisation which attempts to bring independent news about West Papua to the rest of the world.
The Australian Greens have today questioned the mixed messages the Australian Government is sending Indonesia about human rights in West Papua.
“The Australian Government needs to take a consistent stance in defence of human rights in our region, not just pay them lip service,” said Australian Greens Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne.
“Why is Stephen Smith signing a new ‘Defence Co-operation Agreement’ with Indonesia this week, when just last week Bob Carr was calling for an inquiry into the alleged involvement of the Indonesian military in the assassination of an indigenous West Papuan leader?”
The Australian Greens spokesperson for West Papua, Senator Richard Di Natale, questioned how Stephen Smith could have ‘no concerns’ about West Papua.
“The human rights abuses in West Papua were exposed on ABC’s 7:30 Program just last week. For Minister Smith to say that he has no concerns regarding West Papua is a clear case of wilful ignorance,” said Senator Di Natale.
“How can Australia turn a blind eye to the allegations that troops we have funded and trained are carrying out human rights abuses against the indigenous peoples of West Papua?
“Australia should require assurances that our military support will not lead to further violations of human rights. And we must call for West Papua to be opened up to foreign journalists and human rights monitors so that we can hold those assurances to account.
“The lives and human rights of our West Papuan neighbours should be a priority in our dealings with Indonesia. And it should certainly warrant a lot more attention and respect from Australia’s Foreign and Defence Ministers than just a discussion ‘in passing’.”
A local Papuan man has been murdered by an elite Kopassus special forces officer in a village in the remote district of Boven Digul, near the Fly River area adjacent to the West Papua – PNG border, after a local man was accused of sexual assault of a military officer’s wife, according to local human rights sources.
The shooting on Monday September 3, occurred after the victim, Januarius Kimko, was accused by a TNI officer (from the Boven Digul Koramil company of the Merauke 755 Battalion) of sexually assaulting his wife, despite protestations of innocence from the accused man.
West Papua Media has been unable to fully and independently verify the claims from human rights sources, due to the extreme difficulty of communication in these remote areas under military control, however, he investigating sources have been highly reliable in the past.
According to local human rights sources and witnesses interviewed on the grounds by Merauke-based media activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Kimko was arrested by “Buser” commandos from a joint military/police team in Boven Digul after the military couple reported the alleged sexual assault to the local Police.
The special BUSER ( BU = Berburu (hunting); and SER – serangan (attack)) is a joint “search and destroy” joint SatGas (taskforce) squad between Brimob and Kopassus, whose role is replicated by part of the “anti terrorist” Detachment 88, funded by Australia. All sections of this unit receive training and supplies by the Australian Defence Forces. No information has been received that show if serving members of D88 are present in the Boven Digul unit.
The joint taskforce was immediately activated and conducted house to house raids across the town on Monday night whilst trying to capture the man accused of sexual assault, terrorising local residents. An ambush was set on the house of Kimko, who was in his home in Ememes Ambonggo complex. He was arrested and emerged with police without resistance, as he was to be conveyed to the police station for questioning, according to witnesses.
As he reached the street, a Kopassus intelligence officer from the Satuan Gagas Intelijen (Strategic Intelligence Unit) rushed the victim and pressed the muzzle of his weapon (type unknown) against Kimko’s side. He then shot the victim four times, with the bullets penetrating the victim’s thigh and left wrist.
Witnesses reported to the investigators that as soon as Kimko was shot, members of the Buser Commando and TNI officers at the scene immediately threw his body in to a car, and conveyed him to an unknown location.
Januarius Kimko’s body was discovered by human rights sources at the emergency room of Merauke District l, over 120km from Boven Digul, late on Wednesday September 5. His body had been in the custody of the TNI of Koramil Kabupaten Digoel from his shooting until the victim’s burial, preventing an independent assessment of his injures. Kimko’s family were not informed of his death until after his burial.