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No US or Aust. ties with the Indonesian military!

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
No ties with the Indonesian military

The Australia West Papua Association believes the time is not right for either the Australian or US Governments to renew ties with the Indonesian military.

THE US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has called for complete reform of Indonesia's armed forces, but backed stronger military links as part of a new "strategic partnership".
"A reformed and effective Indonesian military is in the interest of everyone in this region, because threats to our common security have not disappeared", she said.

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) said today in Sydney ?it is definitely not in the interests of the West Papuan people for the US or Australia to be training the Indonesian military".

Numerous reports have documented the involvement of the Indonesian military in illegal activities including illegal logging, rigged construction projects and theft of aid and human rights abuses. Joe Collins of AWPA said that the Australian Government believes that the professionalism of the Australian military will have a positive effect on the TNI but ?while such entrenched practices continue, it is highly unlikely that the professionalism of the Australian military will have any influence on the TNI.

"The Indonesian military also 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.

AWPA believes that the "renewal of military ties would be a blow to the democratic transition in Indonesia. It would not improve the military's human rights record but legitimize its ongoing abuses. No other Indonesian institution has such a track record of opposition to democratic practices."

?Dr Rice has endorsed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's reforms?, yet last year two West Papuan men received 10 and 15 years for merely raising the West Papuan National Flag, the Morning Star. What democratic country in the world would hand down such harsh sentences for merely raising a flag?" Mr Collins said.

"If Indonesia has really introduced democratic reforms, why is there a ban on the media visiting West Papua? AWPA calls on both the US and Australian governments to urge the Indonesia Government to lift the ban on journalists visiting West Papua and to urge the Indonesian Government to allow access to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Prevention of Genocide on a fact finding mission to West Papua.

As to the recent statement by the Australian ambassador to the United States Dennis Richardson, (presumably with DFAT?s approval) that "Papua is part of the sovereign territory of Indonesia and always has been", this must come as a surprise to the West Papuan people. The "Jakarta lobby" pushed the same line about East Timor.

?Instead of burying its head in the sand as it did over East Timor, the Australian Government should be talking with progressive elements in Indonesia to try and solve the many issues of concern in West Papua," said Mr Collins.

© Scoop Media

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