Tag Archives: Australian Government

What should be the role of the Australian government as a member of the UN Security Council ?

Opinion / Analysis
By Herman Wainggai
September 11, 2013

Papuan women wearing the banned Morning Star flag as clothing at Manokwari demo to welcome Flotilla (Photo: West Papua Media stringers)
Papuan women wearing the banned Morning Star flag as clothing at Manokwari demo to welcome Flotilla (Photo: West Papua Media stringers)

Knowing  the history of the Indonesian state’s Army and Police invasion of West Papua there is no surprise in the fresh news of increased Indonesian military troops to the region, who are growing rapidly on this Melanesian ground like fertile mushrooms.

The Freedom Flotilla sailboat is currently on its voyage from Australian waters to the land of West Papua , and it has been confirmed that it is due to arrive within the next few days. Throughout the land of West Papua citizens and activists have been holding a number of peaceful demonstrations as a signal to welcome this boat. Thousands of West Papuans have bravely taken to the streets, high in enthusiasm and taking with them a variety of traditional instruments used in West Papua – ukuleles , guitars , drums , flute drums. They are also wearing traditional dress, and along with raising banners of the Freedom Flotilla sailboat, they are also displaying the national symbols of West Papua – the Morning Star flag.

This represents a challenge to and hope for the Indonesian government, that it ‘opens up’; that Jakarta demonstrates that it possesses genuine democratic maturity to negotiate peacefully with the political leaders of West Papua.  The people of West Papua, moreover, sincerely look forward to the newly elected Australian Federal government, especially in its new role as one of the member states of the UN Security Council, to act as a  mediator and by standards of international law help resolve the long running political conflict between the Indonesian government and the people of West Papua.

Demonstration welcoming Freedom Flotilla, Sorong (photo: supplied from Herman Wainggai, NFRPB)
Demonstration welcoming Freedom Flotilla, Sorong (photo: supplied from Herman Wainggai, NFRPB)

Our hope is that the precise opposite does not happen – that the Australian Government merely lets the Indonesian government continue to unilaterally kill the political, human rights and democracy activists of West Papua. This has been their lot for over 50 years – arrests, kidnapping, detention, shooting, killing, raping, long imprisonments.

The people of West Papua also hope that the Australian government will not forget this tiny Freedom Flotilla who will be facing the storm of the Indonesian military whose numbers have been newly swelled in the border area. Whatever happens, Australia needs to be assured that the people of West Papua will maintain their struggle to govern themselves, and will fight for that freedom by non-violent means.

The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua logo
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua logo

The history of Indonesian brutality in West Papua over decades must be stopped by the international community, which includes Australia in its significant roles in the UN and  the Asia-Pacific region.  The data has been clearly documented from year to year – how long must West Papuans continue to be slaughtered like animals? The question is very pertinent then – what will be Australia’s role, and the USA and the United Nations – in regards to West Papua?  This land of the Mambruk – the beautiful Crowned Pigeon and symbol of Papua – which we love, shall we close our eyes and stop our ears to the injustices?

In the same way that attention is currently being given to the political situation in Syria, so must attention be given to the little Freedom Flotilla, and to the suffering people of West Papua, who have struggled for freedom and justice under the brutal regime of the military of the Indonesian state

Carr must do more on West Papua: Greens

 

PRESS RELEASE

The Australian Greens call on the Government to urge Indonesia to put an end to the violence in West Papua, and commend journalists from the ABC’s 7.30 program who entered the region undercover recently. Their work shines a spotlight on the ongoing abuses of human and democratic rights that are occurring in West Papua, only some 200km to the north of Australia.

“The Australian Government has known full well for some time of the atrocities going on in West Papua, but has chosen to turn a blind eye,” Australian Greens Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“The ABC exposé means Minister Carr no longer has any excuse not to pick up the phone to his Indonesian counterpart and get some answers about what dialogue Indonesian government is having with West Papuan representatives.”

“Along with many Australians, I am very alarmed by the bloodshed of recent months, which adds to the fear experienced by the West Papuan people over many decades of Indonesian rule over their lands,” said Senator Richard Di Natale, Greens spokesperson for West Papua.

“The 7.30 program has managed to gather important coverage of the current situation there, despite considerable restrictions on journalists entering the region. It is crucial that journalists and human rights monitors are allowed access to West Papua.

“Australians are now becoming more aware of these atrocities being committed on their doorstep. They know what happened in East Timor under Indonesian rule and they know that we, as a nation, cannot sit idly by while it occurs again in West Papua.

“The Greens call on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to advocate for a new dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the Papuan people. The indigenous people of West Papua should have the opportunity to decide democratically their own future in accordance with international standards of human rights and the principles of international law.”

“West Papua is a chance for Australia to show real leadership. It is a chance for us to show that we will stand up for the values of peace and democracy we so readily espouse.”

The Greens will introduce a Senate motion during the next sitting period that will call of Minister Carr to raise concerns over human rights abuses with the Indonesian Foreign Minister and request access for human rights monitors and foreign journalists.

The Greens have called on the Australian government to consider its military links to Indonesia and suspend all ties while violence continues, attributed to Indonesian security forces acting with impunity. We cannot stand idly by while this conflict escalates and human rights are being abused on our doorstop.

 

Lawyers urge Australian Government to speak out over Papuan treason trials

Media Release

Human Rights Law Centre and

International Lawyers for West Papua

1 February 2012

The Australian Government’s silence on human rights abuses in the region has once again been put in the spotlight, with the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) and International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) urging the Foreign Minister to speak up in defence of basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.

Criminal trials have commenced this week in Jayapura, against five Papuan political activists charged with criminal offenses following their involvement in last year’s peaceful assembly at the Third Papuan People’s Congress. The activists were among the hundreds of people arrested after Indonesian police and military forcibly shut down the gathering, killing at least three people and injuring approximately 90 others.

HRLC spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said the fundamental rights of all persons to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are protected by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – which Indonesia ratified in 2006.

“These fundamental human rights must be recognised and respected by Indonesia. The exercise of such democratic rights and freedoms must be protected by law, not criminalised.

“Australia’s UN Security Council bid pitches us as a ‘principled advocate of human rights for all’. This is a prime opportunity for the Foreign Minister to take a principled stand against human rights abuses on our doorstep,” Mr Clarke said.

The Papuan activists, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, August Makbrowen Senay, Dominikus Sorabut and Selpius Bobii, are facing charges of treason in a region where people may be imprisoned for simply raising the West Papuan ‘Morning Star’ flag.

ILWP’s Jennifer Robinson called on the Australian Government to use its unique relationship with Indonesia to encourage the authorities to demonstrate their respect for human rights by dropping charges against the five activists.

“These trials should stop immediately, and Australia should do everything it can to help that happen. The prosecution of activists for peacefully expressing their political views has no place in a modern democracy. The Australian Foreign Minister, his department and embassy staff in Indonesia should make it very clear that the Australian Government firmly supports human rights and freedom of expression in the region,” Ms Robinson said.

Ms Robinson also called on the Australian Government to deploy embassy staff to observe the legal proceedings for the purpose of ensuring that the protesters receive a fair trial.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Wednesday 8 February.

For further comments:

please contact West Papua Media +61450079106 for contacts

Australia must act to protect human rights in Papua: Joint letter from HRLC and Human Rights Watch (28 Nov 2011)

The Australian Government should take a leadership role in promoting and protecting human rights in the troubled Indonesian province of West Papua say two leading human rights organizations in a Joint Letter to the Foreign Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary this Friday of the first raising of the West Papuan ‘Morning Star’ flag, the Human Rights Law Centre and Human Rights Watch have called on Minister Rudd to publically and unequivocally condemn the excessive use of force and suppression of peaceful protest and also deploy Australian embassy staff to Papua to monitor and observe anticipated events to mark the anniversary.

“Australia must unequivocally support the human rights of all persons to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” said Tom Clarke from the Human Rights Law Centre. “It is not in Australia’s strategic interest to have a festering human rights problem on our doorstep.”

“The default policy of successive Australian Governments has seemingly been to politely look the other way while human rights abuses occurred on our doorstep. This approach desperately needs rethinking. The problem of violence and repression in West Papua needs to be acknowledged and addressed,” Mr Clarke said.

The ‘Morning Star’ flag was first raised in 1961 when West Papua was moving towards independence with assistance from its colonial Dutch Government and the Australian Government. By this time, Papua already had its own government officials. However, in 1962 a chain of events eventually led to Indonesia taking control of Papua and well documented military violence and human rights abuses have plagued the province since. Today Papuans face imprisonment for simply raising the ‘Morning Star’ flag.

The letter urges Minister Rudd to call for a full and impartial investigation into recent use of force, including fatal force, by Indonesian police and military forces on a peaceful assembly on 19 October. The attacks on the Third Papuan People’s Congress resulted in at least three protesters being killed, at least 90 being injured and approximately 300 arrested.

“The West Papuan people do not enjoy the types of basic rights that we take for granted here in Australia. The right to meet to discuss ideas and express political beliefs are severely curtailed in West Papua. The international media is heavily restricted in travelling to Papua and reporting on events there. We are concerned that without international attention being focused on West Papua, human rights abuses are likely to continue,” Mr Clarke said.

The letter also requests that Minister Rudd urge the Indonesian Government to release all persons detained in Papua for the peaceful expression of their political views, including Filep Karma who the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention advises should be immediately released.

“Minister Rudd should follow US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton’s lead and directly raise concerns with Indonesia about the violence and abuse of human rights in West Papua. If he has a ‘special relationship’ with Indonesia, now is the time to make the most of it and, as a friend, help Indonesia meet the commitments that it’s signed up to under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Mr Clarke said.

The Human Rights Law Centre will be hosting a public seminar in Melbourne with Human Rights Watch’s Elaine Pearson looking at this and other human rights issues in Asia on Wednesday 7 December. Further details can be found online here.

For further comments from HRLC: contact Tom Clarke on tom.clarke@hrlc.org.au or 0422 545 763

For comments from HRW: contact Phil Robertson on RobertP@hrw.org or +66 85 060 8406