Tag Archives: Julia Gillard

Imparsial: Urges SBY to speedily resolve the Papua Problem

Bintang Papua, 21 October 2011Jayapura: Imparsial had condemned the shooting that occurred on 19 October during the Third Papuan People’s Congress which was held at the Zakeus field and has called on the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono  to take measures to resolve the Papuan problem as quickly as possible.

‘There should have been no loss of life or the injuries; what happened has only made the situation in Papua worse than than ever and is not in accord with the pledge made by the president – SBY -in his address on the occasion of 17 August this year that the situation in West Papua must be handled with care.

In an open letter. Poengky Indarti, executive-director of Imparsial said that the use of excessive force  by the security forces, alleging that the congress was engaged in subversion ws totally unjustified.  ‘ The mobilisation of the security forces  which was very un-coordinated  has only resulted in Papuan people feeling more insecure,’ said Indarti.

‘Now is the time to resolve the problems in Papua by means of good communication with the Papuan people.’ she said. The continued use of force and violence  will not only destroy the Papuan people’s confidence in Indonesia, but will also undermine the confidence of the international community in the the president’s respect for human rights principles.’ Imparsial called on all sides to do everything to preserve  peace in Papua, by showing respect for human rights.

According to the Papuan branch of Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, the six people who died were: James Gobay, 25 years old, Yosaphat Yogi 28, Daniel  Kadepa  25, Maxsasa Yewi 35, Yacob Samonsabra 53, and Pilatus Wetipo. 40.

Those under arrest include Forkorus Yaboisembut, chairman of the Papuan Customary Council, and Edison Waromi who will face the charge of subversion under article 106 of the Criminal Code.

Others currently being interrogated include: August Makbrawnen Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii, chairman of the Congress, and Dominikus Sirabat, a Papuan human rights activist.

AWPA: CHOGM leaders should condemn the brutal crackdown on the West Papuan people

Press Release
The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

24 October 2011

AWPA is calling on the CHOGM leaders (who will meet in Perth) to condemn the brutal crackdown on the West Papuan people .

In a bid to make CHOGM relevant the Commonwealth leaders will discuss a special eminent persons’ report on renewing the organisation. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said talks will focus on “the role of the Commonwealth in the age in which we live and how we can strengthen it for the future”

The report warns the Commonwealth must “focus fresh attention on violations of human, political and civil rights if it is to continue to command attention on behalf of its member states and retain the respect of its own people”.

Joe Collins of AWPA said “obviously CHOGM will focus on its own member states however, many of the CHOGM countries are regional neighbours of Indonesia and some like Australia and New Zealand help train and aid the Indonesian security forces. Human rights should be universal and organisations such as CHOGM should make a statement of concern about the human rights situation in West Papua. If enough pressure is put on Indonesian it may hold its military to account for human rights abuses.

At the end of the 3rd Papua People`s Congress the delegates raised the West Papuan national flag, the Morning Star flag. The security forces immediately began fireing live rounds to disperse the assembly. Six people were killed.

up to 300 hundred were arrested and many were beaten by the security forces with batons, bamboo poles and the butts of their rifles

Six delegates have been charged with treason.

Tunisia… Egypt… Libya… Let’s look closer to home

by Daniel Scoullar

originally appeared at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au

The mass uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other nearby countries have put despotic rulers, human rights abuses and self-determination into our nightly news bulletins and daily conversations in a way that happens very rarely.

The seemingly contagious way these movements for freedom have spread from country to country makes them particularly fascinating, but there is another reason why they have captured the public imagination. It’s because Australians recognise the ‘fair go’ principle, which can also be put in terms of the human right for every person to be safe from harm, to have control over their lives and to have a say in how their country’s run – regardless of whether they live in Bundoora or Benghazi.

In turn, many of us would also be surprised to hear that we have state sponsored violence and political exclusion much closer to home. They would be further surprised to hear these abuses are taking place within Indonesia, a case study for positive social, economic and political reform.

Despite holidaying in Bali, seeing Jakarta on the news or even watching a wildlife documentary shot in the Sumatran jungle, you could be excused for never having heard of West Papua. It comprises the western half of the island of New Guinea (the eastern half belongs to Papua New Guinea) and a collection of small islands.

West Papua’s landscape is one of tropical islands, coconut strewn beaches, impenetrable rain forests and rugged snow capped mountain peaks. It is home to around three million people, including some of the last remaining humans still untouched by the modern world.

West Papua’s modern history is marked by exploitation and resilience. Colonial explorers claimed it as Dutch territory in the 1600s, the Japanese and Americans made it a key battleground of World War II and the newly independent Indonesian nation invaded and forcibly occupied the territory in 1962, just 13 years before they would do the same in East Timor.

In the 50 years since then, West Papua has been ruled as a country-apart within Indonesia. This is somewhat ironic given West Papua is physically, culturally and historically separate from the rest of Indonesia. Its traditional ties run east and south to Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northern Australia and the Pacific.

Where military and police abuses were curtailed elsewhere, they were encouraged in West Papua. While ‘unity in diversity’ was the national motto, West Papuan traditional culture was violently suppressed and almost a million ‘transmigrants’ were shipped in and given the reigns of local government and the economy. Even as the post-Suharto human rights reforms resulted in greater freedom of speech for those in Jakarta, incarceration or death are still the standard penalties for raising the Morning Star flag in West Papua. An estimated 100,000 local people have been killed during the occupation.

In 2007 I travelled from East Timor through Indonesia, West Papua and Papua New Guinea on my way back to Australia. My lasting memories are of friendly West Papuans inviting me into their homes to practice English with their children and heavily armed military personnel/police stopping me in the street for seemingly random questioning. When I returned to Melbourne, I met members of the West Papuan refugee community here and learned more about the extent of the abuses taking place in their homeland.

A recent example captured on video and shared on the internet, shows two Papuan men being cruelly tortured by security forces, including one having his genitals burnt. Other examples include activists being shot at demonstrations – or just disappearing. Local prisons are full of political prisoners who have committed no crime other than raising their voice.

It is also important to differentiate this critique of state sponsored human rights abuses and a lack of self-determination from a more general attack on Indonesia as a nation or its culture.

As someone who speaks Indonesian moderately well and has lived and travelled in the region, I know first hand the beautiful diversity within Indonesia’s awe inspiring 17,500 island archipelago. The majority of its 240 million people are not disputing their place in this nation state and democratic, social, economic and political progress continues in most areas.

Nevertheless, acknowledging Indonesia’s strengths is not the same as writing a blank cheque to the worst elements within its military and government. After 24 years of silence, Australia finally found the moral and political strength to take a stand on behalf of the East Timorese people and this is what is needed again, not just from our Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but from other world leaders within our region and right across the globe.

We all know that international diplomacy can be a dirty business where economic and political interests take precedence over doing what is right. We should acknowledge that it is politics and economics that are the key barriers blocking the Australian government from advocating on behalf of the West Papuan people. There is no easy villain such as Muammar Gaddafi to hold up as a symbol of evil. It’s more complicated than that.

International diplomacy can also be a powerful force for improving lives. While East Timor remains poor, I didn’t meet a single person there who wanted to go back to Indonesian rule. Australia is a regional leader, particularly in the areas of good governance and human rights protection, and we should not shy away from this role. We have the power to make a difference in West Papua and, in turn, we carry the corresponding responsibility to do so.

If we simply cast our gaze to distant parts of the world, where people are paying with their lives for basic freedoms, we will overlook those closer to home paying with their own lives for those same freedoms.

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.

Torture trial exposed as a ‘grand deception’ – Indonesian Government caught lying to US and Australian Governments

Article from The Age

A MILITARY trial into abuses by soldiers in Papua, trumpeted by Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as evidence of the country’s commitment to human rights ahead of Julia Gillard’s visit, has proven to be a grand deception.

The trial of four soldiers began on Friday in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, amid assurances from the Indonesian government and military that those appearing were involved in the torture of two Papuan men depicted in a graphic video.

But when the trial started, it became apparent that the four defendants had nothing to do with the incident depicted in the video, which took place in Papua on May 30. Instead, they were four soldiers involved in another incident, in March, which was also captured on video. While disturbing – it involves soldiers kicking and hitting detained Papuans – the abuses in the March incident are milder than the genital burning torture in the May video.

Dubbed the ”red herring trial” by The Jakarta Post, human rights advocates said the deception proved the matter must be investigated by Indonesia’s human rights body and the perpetrators tried in Indonesia’s Human Rights Court.

Papuan activists said the ”farcical” military tribunal hearing was a deliberate strategy to deflect international condemnation ahead of the visits of Ms Gillard, who travelled to Jakarta last week, and US President Barack Obama, who arrives tomorrow.

A day before Ms Gillard’s visit, Dr Yudhoyono announced the trial was to take place and urged Ms Gillard not to raise the topic when they spoke. ”There’s no need to pressure Indonesia. We have conducted an investigation and are ready for a trial or anything that is required to uphold justice and discipline,” he said.

But at the weekend, Lieutenant Colonel Susilo, spokesman for TNI’s military command in Papua, admitted the soldiers before the tribunal had nothing to do with the torture.

”It is difficult for us to investigate the perpetrators in the second video because they did not show any attribute or uniform,” he said. ”So what we could do was working on the first video. We could recognise their units and faces easily. ”

Ms Gillard’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment.