10 years after the Biak Massacre
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release , 4 July 2008
10 years after the Biak Massacre the oppression of the West Papuan people continues.
Sunday the 6 July marks 10 years since the Indonesian security forces massacred up to 150 people in Biak , West Papua. The victims, included women and children who had gathered for a peaceful rally. They were killed at the base of a water tower flying the Morning Star flag. Other Papuans were rounded up and later taken out to sea where they were thrown off naval ships and drowned.
The Australian Government who knew about the massacre turned a blind eye and did not protest to the Indonesian Government. (About two days after the initial killing an Australian Army Captain arrived in Biak to carry out an official investigation on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs)
Joe Collins of AWPA Sydney said, "10 years later the West Papuan people are still oppressed and the Australian Government is still turning a blind eye to the human rights situation in West Papua. When Kevin Rudd visited Indonesia last month he could have raised concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government but he did not, yet he raised concerns about the situation in Tibet with the Chinese Government when he visited China".
"We keep being told that Indonesia is now a democracy but this does not apply to West Papua . When you can be jailed for 15 years simply for raising a flag, it is not the action of a democratic country". This is what happened to Filep Karma who was one of the original organisers of the Biak rally of 1998. He received a jail term of 15 years for simply raising the West Papuan National Flag, The Morning Star at a peaceful celebration in Jayapura on the 1st December 2004.
We are also told the human rights abuses are a thing of the past but they are ongoing.
At a number of demonstrations in March this year in Manokwari, West Papuans were again arrested for carrying their National flag, The Morning Star or for simply having the symbol on their T-shirts. 12 people are still in custody."West Papua is one of Australia’s nearest neighbors and we should not be ignoring the human rights situation in the territory. The Australian Government should be doing everything it can to get Jakarta to negotiate with the West Papuan leadership to try and solve peacefully all the issues of concern in West Papua".
It should also urge the Indonesian Government to release all political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan People.