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Incident & Reprisals in Abepura West Papua

Press release 18 March 2006

Incident in Abepura West Papua

The Australia West Papua Association calls on the Australian Government and the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, now visiting Australia, to raise the dangerously deteriorating situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to avoid further escalation of the situation.

The Australia West Papua Association is concerned that the Indonesian security forces are conducting reprisals not only against those involved in protests in the University town of Abepura, but also in the general community as well.

The demonstrators who had been protesting last Thursday against the giant Freeport gold and copper mine in West Papua, had blocked the road to the airport in the town of Abepura , on the outskirts of Jayapura.

The resulting clash between the Indonesian security forces and protesters has left four security personal dead and an unknown number of demonstrators have been shot and wounded.

Reports from a human rights worker from the Papua-based human rights group, ELSHAM, who was in the crowd when police opened fire has told the ABC what he saw. "We evacuated several victims, there were men who got shot in the chest, another in the right leg and another in the right side of the forehead. But they were not then only ones, there were many more. We evacuated one victim who had been left in a swamp. There were more men coming to help those who got shot and to take them to the nearest hospital."

Media and eyewitness reports indicate that the security forces are now conducting reprisals against the community at large .

A report by another human rights worker from the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights, said the police had blocked roads and were searching every vehicle and that "The Papuans, the young ones, have been taken and beaten, kicked, hit with guns and threatened," he said.

Up to 57 people have been arrested in connection with Thursday's demonstration while other protesters have fled to the bush. A police spokesman Kartono Wangsa Disastra has said that that those who fled “would be hunted down” and "We will never stop hunting these people who have created havoc and murdered our officers."

The local population in the region are already in great fear of reprisals and the Indonesian security forces are known to use incidents such as protests to terorise and crack down on any organisation they term to be separatists.

To avoid further escalation of the situation , we call on the Australian Government and the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to raise the matter with the Indonesian President urging him to control the security forces in the territory and that any operations planned should be halted and personal returned to their barracks as a way of easing tensions and avoiding further bloodshed.


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