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Letter from IHRC to Phil Goff

Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Box 68-419,

Hon Phil Goff,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Parliament Buildings,

8 December, 2003

Dear Phil Goff,

On December 1 - celebrated by many West Papuans as Independence Day - Indonesia announced the appointment of East Timor 'veteran' Col Timbul Silaen as the new West Papua police chief.

There are also disturbing reports that notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres is seeking approval to set up a new militia group - the Red and White Defenders Front - in West Papua.

The United Nations East Timor Serious Crimes Unit has indicted both Silaen and Guterres, with others, in relation to the campaign of violence against the supporters of independence between April and September 1999. The indictment lists multiple counts of murder, summary execution, enforced disappearance, destruction of property, abductions and other inhumane acts, including the forced deportation of much of the civilian population in Dili. . Silaen and Guterres are charged with both personal responsibility for these offences and also superior criminal responsibility for the criminal acts or omissions of their subordinates.

Guterres is also charged with others in relation to the 'Dili Rally case'. The charges include persecution, 13 murders and inhumane acts committed during several incidents on 17 April 1999 in Dili, including an attack on the house of independence leader, Manuel Carrascalao.

These appointments follow many other disturbing events throughout the year, including the November killing of ten people including West Papuan leader Yustinus Murib in the Baliem Valley area. There is also tension over the deeply resented move under Presidential Instruction No.1/2003 in January of this year to divide West Papua into 3 provinces This decision contradicts Law No.21/2001 on special autonomy for Papua, particularly Article 76 which states that any policy affecting Papuans must be approved by the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP).

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee believes that New Zealand must condemn the appointment of Timbul Silaen and urge the Indonesian Government to prevent Eurico Guterres from setting up a militia group in West Papua .

We appeal to the New Zealand Government to take urgent steps at the United Nations to seek the establishment of an International Human Rights Tribunal for East Timor to ensure that all those responsible for crimes against humanity including Silaen and Guterres are brought to justice.

We cannot stand by while West Papua is subjected to a destabilisation campaign on the scale of the tragedy in East Timor.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater (for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

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