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Resumption of ties with the Indonesian military.

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Press release 29 Jan 2006

Resumption of ties with the Indonesian military.

The Australia West Papua Association calls on the new Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, to re-think the plan to renew ties or train with the Indonesian military and in particular the Indonesia special forces Kopassus. Without going into any great detail of its past history, Kopassus has been notorious for its role in human rights abuses in East Timor and West Papua.

In light of the recently released UN report about the activities of the Indonesian military in East Timor, where the TNI used napalm and chemical weapons against the East Timorese people, AWPA believes that it is untimely for our military to recommence co operation with the Indonesian military.

Another recent report on West Papua titled "Genocide in West Papua?" from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, also documents the military's involvement in illegal activities including illegal logging, rigged construction projects and theft of aid.

Joe Collins of AWPA said that " while such entrenched practices continue, it is highly unlikely that the professionalism of the Australian military will have any influence on the TNI", and also "as the Indonesian military receive only 30% of their budget from the government and must raise the other 70% themselves, it should be realised that such an institution is open to corruption".

We understand that the Australian government encourages the Indonesian Government , and the Indonesian military, to enhance its human rights awareness and accountability programs, but this human rights component of training on the Indonesian military had no effect on its behaviour in East Timor and will not in West Papua.

Joe Collins said "that by their very nature, Special Forces troops such as Kopassus will always be used in conflict areas such as West Papua".

Dr. John Ondawame of the West Papuan Peoples Representative Office in Vanuatu said "that he believes that if the Australian military decide to train the Indonesian Kopassus troops , it will only increase the danger to the West Papuan People".

AWPA also notes that Australia and Indonesia are signing a new defence treaty and urges that the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers who fled to Australia be assessed solely on their claims to be genuine asylum seekers and not on any foreign policy decisions to do with the new treaty with Indonesia.

ENDS

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