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Papuan Church Leaders request dialogue during meeting with Indonesian President

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2011

by Andreas Harsono

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono met four Papuan church leaders in Yudhoyono's private library on Dec. 16, 2011. The Papuan priests presented a letter with several recommendations to Yudhoyono. ©Frederika Korain

FOUR PAPUAN church leaders met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Boediono and several cabinet members as well as Indonesia’s military commander and its police chief in President Yudhoyono’s private residence in Cikeas, outside Jakarta, on Friday Dec. 16.

They included Rev. Jemima M. Krey (chairwoman of the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua or Gereja Kristen Injili di Tanah Papua), Rev. Benny Giay (chairman of the Kingmi Gospel Tabernacle Church or Gereja Kingmi di Tanah Papua), Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman (chairman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua or Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Baptis Papua) and Rev. Martin Luther Wanma (chairman of the Indonesian Christian Bible Church or Gereja Kristen Alkitab Indonesia). Frederika Korain, a Papuan human rights activist and an Australian National University student, also joined the delegate.

The meeting was initiated by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia) whose board members also took part in the meeting: Rev. Andreas Yewangoe (chairman), Rev. Gomar Gultom (secretary general) and Rev. Phil Erari (deputy chairman).

The church leaders handed over a seven-page letter to President Yudhoyono, asking the Indonesian government to have a dialogue with the people of Papua. They also asked Yudhoyono stopping the Matoa Operation in Paniai, Papua, which had caused 14 dead and some burned villages on Dec. 12.

Other recommendations included retrieving non-organic troops from Papua, releasing Papuan political prisoners and annulling the Government Regulation No. 77/2007 which bans the Morning Star flag.

They also declared that the 2001 Special Autonomy in Papua had failed. They questioned the establishment of the Unit to Accelerate the Development of Papua and West Papua provinces (UP4B) without the participation of the Papuans, calling such a move “non democratic.”

Benny Giay told me Saturday that the meeting was taking place for more than two hours. “It really hurt me when knowing our church members were attacked, their villages being burned, while we’re here in Jakarta.”

Giay came from the village Onago on Lake Tigi in Paniai, near Edadu, where the Indonesian military and police have been organizing a joint military operation since Dec. 13.

They also told President Yudhoyono that most native Papuans have suffered from Indonesian rule since Indonesia took over New Guinea in 1962. Violence created much suffering on the people. They said most Papuans aspired to be separated from Indonesia.

In front of his guests, Yudhoyono immediately asked Indonesian police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo to stop the Matoa Operation. He also mentioned that U.S. President Barack Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton had raised the issues of human rights violations in Papua.

Yudhoyono welcomed such a dialogue but he reminded his guests that as president he has to keep the territorial integrity of Indonesia. He promised to enforce the law in Papua and to stop human rights abuses. Yudhoyono promised to have another dialogue with the four reverends in the third week of January.

Rev. Martin Luther Wanma, chairman of the Indonesian Christian Bible Church or Gereja Kristen Alkitab Indonesia (blue batik), Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Kingmi Gospel Tabernacle Church or Gereja Kingmi di Tanah Papua (black jacket), Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, chairman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua or Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Baptis Papua (light grey jacket) and Rev. Jemima M. Krey, chairwoman of the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua or Gereja Kristen Injili di Tanah Papua (black blazer) and Rev. Gomar Gultom of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (brown batik) talked straight to Indonesian leaders. ©Frederika Korain


The meeting began at 9pm and ended at 11.30pm at Yudhoyono’s private library. Gomar Gultom organized a press conference at the office of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia Saturday morning.

Both Yoman and Giay are under the Indonesian military watch list. An Indonesian military document leaked in August 2011 revealed that Kopassus agents were closely monitoring Giay and Yoman.

Another leaked letter dated April 30, 2011, from the Indonesian military commander in Papua, Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu, to the provincial governor, Barnabas Suebu, also shows a military interference in civil society in Papua.

The letter accuses Rev. Benny Giay’s Kingmi Gospel Tabernacle Church of trying to build an exclusive organization based on Papuan ethnicity, which Major General Triassunu viewed as a potential separatist movement, and suggests having the military mediate a conflict between the Kingmi Church (Gereja Kemah Injil or Kingmi Church) and the Indonesian Gospel Tabernacle Church (Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia or GKII). The letter also urges that if deliberations cannot resolve the conflict, “immediate action” should be taken. Since the letter came to light, Major General Triassunu has publicly apologized for accusing the church of being a separatist organization, claiming a faction of the church had asked for assistance from the military.

Yawan Wayeni

Giay told me that Yudhoyono was surprised when seeing the photo of a dying Papuan activist Wayan Wayeni on the letter. They told him that Imam Setiawan, the Indonesian police officer who led the attack against Yawan Wayeni on Serui Island, in August 2009, was later promoted to be the police chief of Jayapura. In his new position, Setiawan used excessive forces when cracking down the Papuan Congress in October 2011 and arrested around 300 Papuans. But Setiawan got another promotion despite a written warning for his abusive behavior. He’s now the deputy director of traffic in Papua.

Original Letter from West Papuan church leaders on presented at President Yudhoyono’s private residence in Cikeas, outside Jakarta, on Friday Dec. 16, asking the Indonesian government to have a dialogue with the people of Papua. (Bahasa Indonesia: English translation currently unavailable) :

Reportage of Obama and Gillard discussions on Papua at ASEAN, Bali

FYI -Media information only

Note: these items contain Contradictory reporting. Independent media is banned by Indonesia from attending  gatherings like ASEAN in Bali, and therefore West Papua Media cannot independently verify claims made by corporate mainstream media or US/Indo or Australian government activists as being factual and reflective of what was discussed during the summit.

1) Yudhoyono quizzes Gillard on US marines
2) Obama, Gillard assure SBY on Darwin plan, Papua
3) Indonesian president defends military in Papua
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http://www.smh.com.au/world/yudhoyono-quizzes-gillard-on-us-marines-20111119-1not3.html
1) Yudhoyono quizzes Gillard on US marines

Daniel Flitton and Tom Allard, Nusa Dua, Indonesia

November 20, 2011

INDONESIA’S President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono quizzed Julia Gillard and Barack Obama over the new American ”base” in northern Australia but was assured that it posed no threat to Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

Dr Yudhoyono wrapped up the East Asia Summit last night and hailed the talks – which for the first time included the US and Russia along with regional giants China, India, and Japan – for tackling sensitive issues.

He told reporters last night that a joint Australia-Indonesia plan presented to the gathering for improving disaster readiness in the region had called for rapid deployment of emergency workers to save lives.

Asked if this would include a role for the 2500 US marines to be eventually stationed near Darwin, he said he would welcome the idea.

President Obama had raised the US presence in Australia during talks yesterday and said it would not unsettle the region, Dr Yudhoyono said.

Prime Minister Gillard also sought out Dr Yudhoyono to discuss the role of the American troops ahead of a formal meeting today.

”I’m happy they explained it to me personally,” the Indonesian leader said. ”On the establishment of that military base, it is not expected to change anything, it is not expected to distract or disturb neighbours … she [Ms Gillard] gave her guarantee.”

Indonesia has historically been highly sensitive to outside interference, and some Indonesian nationalists hold lingering suspicion about Australia after it led the peacekeeping mission to East Timor.

Indonesian military commander Agus Suhartono had also raised concerns that the training arrangement could result in Indonesia being dragged into a dispute involving the South China Sea.

Dr Yudhoyono said he had asked Mr Obama and Ms Gillard about their policy towards Indonesia in light of the new military arrangements and was happy to be told Australia and the US supported Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

Mr Obama also raised with Dr Yudhoyono the vexed issue of the restive region of West Papua, where there have been killings of independence activists in recent months and persistent allegations of human rights abuses by security forces.

Dr Yudhoyono said he told the US leader that Indonesian forces were conducting legitimate operations against an ”insurgency” and that Indonesian forces came under attack from separatists.

”If there are members who have violated the laws, gross violations of human rights, then they will go before the law,” he said.

”I told him personally, there is no impunity, no immunity.”

The Indonesian leader added that Mr Obama told him ”explicitly” that he respected Indonesia’s sovereignty over the territory, which was incorporated into Indonesia after a highly contested referendum in 1969 when 1025 hand-picked West Papuan delegates unanimously endorsed integration.
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http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/11/20/obama-gillard-assure-sby-darwin-plan-papua.html
2) Obama, Gillard assure SBY on Darwin plan, Papua
Esther Samboh and Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali | Sun,

East Asian Summit (EAS) leaders wrapped up their meetings here on Saturday, with ASEAN member nations trying their best to remain united, despite conflicting interests between the US and China, both of which, in different ways, have reportedly threatened to divide the 10-member regional grouping.

There have been concerns that different stances on crucial issues, such as tensions in the South China Sea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, which some say have essentially divided the world into two sides — the US and China — would disrupt ASEAN’s ambitions towards forming an integrated and secure political, economic and socio-cultural community.

The US plan for a military base in Darwin, a city only 850-kilometers from Indonesia, has raised concerns from some ASEAN members, but perhaps most especially from China.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dismissed such concerns.

“Countries have economic interests or other interests — any country has its own national interests. But when we unite into a regional grouping, there are common interests,” Yudhoyono told a press briefing after the three-day ASEAN and East Asia Summit in Bali on Saturday.

“Whenever there are respective interests, we ensure that with this association we build a common interest pattern, instead of having a common platform or common interest. ASEAN could still maintain its centrality and we will play roles in the region’s cooperation.”

The planned military base in Darwin has raised fear it may spark new tension in the ASEAN territory.

Yudhoyono said Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard have “guaranteed” there are “no intentions” to disrupt neighboring countries. “Presumption and prejudice could disintegrate us all in the region,” Gillard said.

The EAS meeting was part of US President Barack Obama’s nine-day Asia-Pacific trip, in which he has focused on bulking up America’s presence in the region, including setting up the Darwin base. The Darwin plan has been largely viewed as a hedge against the rise of China’s economic and military prowess and a guarantee to US allies in the region that if China were to use force in settling South China Sea disputes, the world’s largest economy would stand ready to help.

Four ASEAN countries — Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei — have competing claims over areas in the South China Sea.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reaffirmed China’s stance on the South China Sea issue but stressed the summit was not the right place to discuss such issues.

Obama held an impromptu meeting with Chinese Premier Wen on the summit’s sidelines Saturday to discuss the South China Sea and economic differences.

The US has planned to form a free trade alliance with its Pacific counterparts in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would exclude China but comprise four ASEAN countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam) as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Peru.

“We are ready to join the TPP. But as President, I chose to assess matters more deeply. If it brings benefits, we would say ‘we will join the TPP’,” Yudhoyono said.

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/19/indonesia-papua-idUSL3E7MJ06W20111119
3) Indonesian president defends military in Papua

JAKARTA | Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:00am EST

Nov 19 (Reuters) – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defended on Saturday the actions of its military in remote Papua province following accusations of human rights abuses and the recent killing of three people.

Three people were killed on Oct. 19 as police and military tried to disperse a political meeting in Abepura, a sub-district of Papua, a resource-rich yet underdeveloped province with a simmering separatist insurgency and heavy military presence.

The government’s national human rights commission found strong evidence of excessive acts that led to rights violations.

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have called on U.S. President Barack Obama to address the issue when he met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali during an East Asia Summit.

But Yudhoyono said on Saturday there was accountability and military personnel who committed crimes would be investigated.

“The world must know that in Papua there are armed cells who are launching attacks at us, including at an area of a firm there,” he said, referring to a mine run by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc where a worker was killed by gunmen on Thursday.

“When our soldiers are doing self-defense then it can’t be categorised as violating human rights.”

Yudhoyono said Papua was not specifically discussed during his meeting with Obama in Bali.

Open Letter to President Obama from West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)


Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391, john@etan.org

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, edmcw@msn.com

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

November 15, 2011

Dear President Obama,

We urge you to seize the opportunity of your imminent return to Indonesia to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by the U.S.-Indonesia relationship more realistically than you have up to now.  Your Administration urgently needs a policy that addresses the problems created by the Indonesian security forces’ escalating violations of human rights and criminality and its failure to submit to civilian control. The recent 20th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili. East Timor (Timor-Leste), when hundreds of peaceful protesters were massacred by Indonesian troops wielding U.S. supplied weapons, reminds us that a lack of accountability for past crimes — in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago — keeps those affected from moving on with their lives, while contributing to impunity in the present.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime.

Indonesia’s security forces, including the Kopassus special forces and U.S.-funded and -trained Detachment (Densus) 88, continue to employ against civilians weaponry supplied by the U.S. and to use tactics developed as result of U.S. training. In West Papua, these security forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, most recently participants in the October 16-19 Congress and striking workers at theFreeport McMoRan mine. Those assaulted were peacefully asserting their right to assemble and freedom of speech. At the Congress, combined forces, including regular military units, Kopassus, the militarized police (Brimob) and Detachment 88, killed at least five civilians, beat scores more, and were responsible for the disappearance of others.

Moreover, in the central highlands of West Papua, these same forces regularly conduct so called “sweeping operations,” purportedly in search of the very small armed Papuan resistance. These operations have led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and driven thousands from their village into forests where they face life threatening conditions due to inadequate access to shelter, food and medical care.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime. Several videoed incidents of military torture of civilians — widely discussed during your November 2010 visit to Indonesia — concluded in just such failures of justice. The concept of command responsibility is rarely considered in the military tribunals.

International monitoring of these developments in West Papua is severely hampered by Indonesian government restrictions on access to and travel within West Papua by foreign journalists, diplomats, researchers, and human rights and humanitarian officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross remains barred from operating an office in West Papua. Indonesian journalists and human rights officials face threats and worse when they try to monitor developments there.

Elsewhere in Indonesia, too many times security forces have stood by or actively assisted in attacks on minority religions, including deadly attacks on Ahmadiyah followers.

The Indonesian security forces — especially the military — are largely unreformed: it has failed to fully divest itself of its business empire, its remains unaccountable before the law, and continues to violate human rights. These forces constitute a grave threat to the continued development of Indonesian democracy. The upcoming national elections in Indonesia present a particularly urgent challenge. The Indonesian military is in position to pervert the democratic process as it has in the past. The military has frequently provoked violence at politically sensitive times, such as in 1998 when it kidnapped tortured and murdered democratic activists.  For many years it has relied on its unit commanders, active at the District, sub-District and even village level to influence the selection of party candidates and the elections themselves. The territorial command system is still in place.
In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history.

Given this threat to democracy and to individuals posed by Indonesian forces, it is essential that the U.S. employ the significant leverage that comes from Indonesia’s desire for U.S. security assistance and training to insist on real reforms of Indonesian security forces. Rhetorical calls for reforms are clearly insufficient. These exhortations have manifestly not worked and readily brushed aside. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent expression of “concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights” in Papua were dismissed by a spokesperson for Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , who called the escalating rights violations “only isolated incidents.”

In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history and quickly suspend training for those units whose human rights records and impunity are especially egregious, as required by the Leahy law. We specifically urge you to end plans to re-engage with Kopassus and to end assistance to Detachment 88. These actions would demonstrate U.S. Government seriousness in pursuit of real reforms of the security forces in Indonesia.

Sincerely,

Ed McWilliams for WPAT

John M. Miller for ETAN

see also


Wikileaks revelation – Indonesia threatened to derail a visit to Jakarta by President Barack Obama unless he overturned Kopassus ban

article in the Sydney Morning Herald – reprinted for media information only

NDONESIA threatened to derail a visit to Jakarta by President Barack Obama this year unless he overturned the US ban on training the controversial Kopassus army special forces.

Leaked US State Department cables reveal that the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, privately told the Americans that continuing the ban – introduced in 1999 because of Kopassus’s appalling human rights record – was the ”litmus test of the bilateral relationship” between the US and Indonesia.

Six months later the US agreed to resume ties with Kopassus, despite fierce criticism from some human rights groups and American politicians about Jakarta’s failure to hold officers to account for their role in atrocities.

The cables, made available exclusively to the Herald by WikiLeaks, detail US concerns about Indonesia’s failure to prosecute the military personnel responsible for murder and torture during the conflicts in East Timor and Aceh.

But they also reveal that US diplomats in Jakarta believed that Dr Yudhoyono’s demands should be met to ensure that Indonesia’s military and security services would protect US interests in the region, including co-operation in the fight against terrorism. It was also argued that closer military ties would encourage further reform of Indonesia’s military.

The Indonesian leader’s call to lift the Kopassus training ban is described in a January cable from the US embassy in Jakarta.

”President Yudhoyono (SBY) and other senior Indonesian officials have made it clear to us that SBY views the issue of Army Special Forces (KOPASSUS) training as a litmus test of the bilateral relationship and that he believes the … visit of President Obama will not be successful unless this issue is resolved in advance of the visit.”

The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said in July that the US needed to renew links with Kopassus ”as a result of Indonesian military reforms over the past decade, the ongoing professionalisation of the TNI [army], and recent actions taken by the Ministry of Defence to address human rights issues”.

An expert on the Indonesian military, the Australian Defence Force Academy associate professor Clinton Fernandes, said the cables appeared to show that members of Congress such as Patrick Leahy – author of the 1999 ban on training with Kopassus – ”have not been told the real reason for Mr Obama’s decision, which was to provide photo opportunities for the President”.

”The decision to renew links shows contempt not only to the victims of gross human rights violations but to members of the US Congress,” Professor Fernandes said.

US diplomatic cables from the past four years reveal that Jakarta’s intense lobbying to lift the Kopassus ban was largely supported by the US embassy in

Jakarta, which cited the Australian military’s ties with Kopassus as a reason to lift the ban. An April 2007 cable says that ”our Australian counterparts often encourage us to resume training for Kopassus”.

But numerous cables also detail serious US concerns about resuming ties. In October 2007, the embassy told Washington that ”Indonesia has not prosecuted past human rights violations in any consistent manner.

”While we need to keep Indonesia mindful of the consequences of inaction on TNI accountability, Indonesia is unlikely to abandon its approach. We need therefore to encourage the Indonesian government to take alternative steps to demonstrate accountability.”

Another 2007 cable details US concern about the appearance at a Kopassus anniversary celebration of Tommy Suharto, the notorious son of the former president who served several years in prison for arranging the killing of a judge who convicted him of fraud.

In May 2008 the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was briefed by US diplomats that ”the key impediment to expanded engagement remains the failure of the GOI [Indonesia] to press for accountability for past human rights abuses by security forces”.

The cable welcomes Indonesia’s continuing military reforms but noted they were not ”the same as putting generals behind bars for past human rights abuses”.

Last last year, about six months before the US lifted its Kopassus ban, a senior US official, Bill Burns, told Indonesian counterparts that ”engagement with Kopassus continued to be a difficult and complex issue, particularly as there remained many in Washington, including in Congress, with serious concerns about accountability for past Kopassus actions”.

But the US cables also reveal the Jakarta embassy’s efforts to water down the background screening that Indonesian military officers must undergo if they undertake training in the US.

The US embassy is also revealed in another cable as heavily playing down a report by Human Rights Watch last year that alleged Kopassus soldiers had committed recent human rights abuses in Papua. The embassy calls the report unbalanced and unconfirmed and says the abuses detailed do not appear to ”meet the standard of gross violation of human rights”.

Australia must make a stand for West Papua

Article in the Sydney Morning Herald

As YouTube evidence of Indonesian soldiers burning the genitals of the West Papuan Tunaliwor Kiwo received its 50,000th viewer, the Indonesian military (TNI) was exposed holding a cynical mock trial to try to cover up systemic violence.

Julia Gillard was red-faced. When in Indonesia with Barack Obama last month, she had praised President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s quick response and the coming trial. Soldiers from another, lesser ”abuse case” were then paraded and given soft sentences, while Kiwo’s torturers remain on active duty.

Despite the Australian embassy in Jakarta telling Indonesian officials of Australia’s “unhappiness with the military’s investigation”, the blatant contempt shown for Gillard and her officials creates little confidence.

Gillard bit her tongue again this week. ”The President of Indonesia,” she said, ”has made it absolutely clear he wants to see any wrongdoers brought to justice on this matter.”


Where’s the solidarity that lifted East Timor out of the geopolitical rubbish bin and into the minds of mainstream Aussies? In 1999 East Timor held a United Nations referendum, due in part to international and Australian pressure, and the Indonesian military tortured, raped and scorched its way back to Java.

In that year in West Papua I discovered the best kept secret in the Asia-Pacific region. Hiking among the highland farms of the Dani people, I heard stories of dispossession, detention, torture and murder. Yale University suggests that since the Indonesian military invaded in 1962-63, it has killed 400,000 West Papuans yet few Australians know anything about these killing fields.

I had lived and travelled on and off in Indonesia for 15 years but never heard even a whisper from West Papua. I departed shocked by the locals’ stories and with a growing suspicion that we were being lied to. The Australian government has always known what’s happening there but has chosen placation over human dignity and moral leadership.

Back in Australia, it was as if this province of 2.6 million had been erased. Why the silence? Where are the churches, students and humanitarian groups who fought for East Timor? Where are the unions who boycotted the Dutch in Indonesia and the regime in South Africa? Where are the conservatives who beat their chests after John Howard ”saved East Timor”?

History offers a clue. When General Suharto took power in Indonesia in 1965-66, he opened the floodgates to Western resource companies. Every Australian government since Menzies kowtowed to this murderous bully, partially to ward off the feared disintegration of this 18,000-island republic, but mainly to gain access to Indonesia’s vast natural resources.

The first Western company to do business with Suharto was the Freeport goldmine in West Papua. Partly owned by Australia’s Rio Tinto, it is the largest gold and copper mine in the world and Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer. Yet West Papuans live in poverty, experiencing the worst health, education and development levels in Indonesia.

Freeport’s $4 billion profit last year didn’t come easily. Dr Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University says the local Amungme people ”have been kicked out, they’ve been given a token payment and if they’ve protested, they’ve been shot”.

None of this would have been possible without Freeport’s paid protection from the TNI, which gets two-thirds of its military budget from its own private businesses. This conflict of interest is at the heart of the military’s ongoing human rights abuses. How can it serve the country while serving itself? West Papua has necessarily become a resource cash cow, a military fiefdom 3000 kilometres from Jakarta, full of tribally divided, uneducated farmers, sitting atop a new El Dorado.

Despite journalists still being banned, West Papua is no longer the secret it was in 1999. Gillard should not be placated by Indonesia’s mock trial of torturers nor train them, in the form of Kopassus. We should work with Jakarta to reform the military and open up West Papua to international scrutiny. It’s time for Australia to step up for our tortured and murdered neighbours to the north.

Charlie Hill-Smith is the writer-director of Strange Birds in Paradise – A West Papuan Story, which is nominated for four AFI Awards including best documentary.