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Group Urges Action On West Papua

13 November, 2001.

Indonesia Human Rights Group Urges Action On West Papua

The Indonesian Human Rights Committee has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to urge him to act to call for an independent international human rights commission investigation into the death of Theys Eluay, the independence leader who was abducted and killed on November 11.

The Committee has also urged Phil Goff to push for a legal enquiry into the conduct of the 1969 "Act of Free Choice" under which West Papua was annexed to Indonesia. This so called act of self-determination has been rejected by the West Papuan people who have continued to campaign for their independence ever since 1969. The Indonesian Government's recent offer of an Autonomy package has been rejected by the West Papuan people's Presidium and it is being imposed without consultation with the people.

Letter is appended.

For further information: Maire Leadbeater - 09-376-5901 (cell phone 025-436-957)

Hon Phil Goff,

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Parliament Buildings,


14 November, 2001.

Dear Phil Goff,

Theys Eluay, leader of the Papuan Presidium Council, was abducted and killed on 11 November, 2001. He was tortured immediately before his death, and it is generally believed that he was murdered by the security forces.

As you know Theys Eluay was a very significant figure in the movement for independence, and there has been widespread West Papuan anger and unrest since his death.

We urge that New Zealand should officially demand that there be a full and impartial enquiry into the death of Theys Eluay.

We join with other human rights organisations in urging that there be an independent human rights commission under the UN High Commission of Human Rights formed to investigate events in West Papua, including the death of Theys Eluay and the ongoing serious human rights violations throughout the territory.

In recent incidents in Ilaga, Manokwari, Wasior and Sorong members of tribal councils, village leders, schoolteachers, priests and even women and young children have been shot, torutured and disappeared.

We have been concerned to note your comments about the new Autonomy package for West Papua. In answer to questions in Parliament (1 November, 2001) and in media comment you have welcomed the decision of the Indonesian parliament for West Papuan autonomy as a "constructive step in the right direction."

A major concern is that there has been no abatement of the repressive security force crackdown against the people of West Papua. There has been a special operation undertaken by the Police Special Forces ( Brimob) since last year. Leaked documents in the possession of the organisation Tapol (the British based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign) reveal that the aim of the operation is to "crush the activities of the separists and their sympathisers."

Secondly the autonomy package has been imposed on the people of West Papua without any consultation with the people, and it is being described by many as merely a cosmetic gesture. The Papuan Presidium Council elected by a successful and well attended Congress in 2000, has not accepted the autonomy package and has described it as "yet another example of the way in which the fate of the Papuan people has been decided by others".


In a statement issued on October 20 the Presidium Council said that the Indonesian government is trying to impose this social contract.

Thirdly, the autonomy package can never be a substitute for a free and fair act of self-determination where the people are given the opportunity to determine their own future.

Self-determination was denied to the people of West Papua in 1969 when Indonesia was allowed to conduct a phony "Act of Free Choice" in which only a small number of hand-picked West Papuan people participated.

We therefore urge that instead of welcoming the autonomy package, New Zealand should take the opportunity to call for an immediate end to the special intelligence operation and the violence being perpetrated against the people by the Brimob police.

We also urge New Zealand to support full involvement and consultation with the people over their future political status.

New Zealand should take the initiative to advocate internationally for a full investigation into the nature and the conduct of the "Act of Free Choice" that took place in 1969.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater

(for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

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