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West Papua: A regional issue of concern

AWPA calls on the PIF countries to put West Papua on its agenda as a regional issue of concern

The 41st Pacific Islands Forum will be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu between 3-6 August.

The Australia West Papua Association has written to the leaders of the PIF countries asking that

At the PIF summit in Vanuatu in August, the Australia West Papua Association
urges the Pacific Islands Forum

to have the issue of West Papua on its agenda and also on the agenda of all future meetings of the PIF as a regional issue of concern

urges the PIF to send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

urges the PIF to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President and call on him to halt any ongoing or proposed military operations in the Puncak Jaya region.

urges the PIF to grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self-determination.

The International community has be stating that the autonomy package is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. However , not only have the West Papuan people rejected it but even those institutions that were implementing it have also realised it has failed. We believe that it is pointless for the international community to keep saying the autonomy package is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. AWPA believes that regional organisations such as the PIF can play an important role in helping facilitate dialogue between the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government and we encourage the PIF to urge the Indonesian President to dialogue with representative of the West Papuan people to discuss all the issues of concern in the territory.


Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
17 July 2010

Re Pacific Islands Forum

Dear Prime Minister,

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) is writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua. It is now 47 years since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua from the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) in 1963 and the people of West Papua still continue their struggle for self -determination. This can be clearly seen by the thousands of West Papuans who marched peacefully in the past week in the symbolic handing back of the failed “special autonomy” package to Jakarta. They were also calling for a referendum.

The human rights situation in West Papua has continued to deteriorate since the last Pacific Islands Forum (PIF ) summit with ongoing human rights abuses occurring in the territory. We would like to bring your attention to a number of recent reports that raise grave concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.


In Amnesty’s International Report for 2010, it states in relation to Papua
“Violence increased sharply around the time of parliamentary and presidential elections, creating a climate of fear and intimidation. There were reports that security forces used unnecessary or excessive force during demonstrations and tortured and ill treated people during arrest, questioning and detention. Security forces also reportedly committed unlawful killings. Severe restrictions were imposed on the right to peaceful assembly and expression”.

Amnesty’s report also points out that
“At least 114 people were detained for peacefully expressing their views. The overwhelming majority were peaceful political activists who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for raising prohibited pro independence flags in Maluku or Papua”.


Below is an extract from Human Rights Watch World Report for 2010, in relation to West Papua.

"Papua and West Papua
Indonesian authorities have responded to a longstanding, low-level armed separatist insurgency in the provinces of Papua and West Papua with a strong troop presence and often harsh and disproportionate responses to non-violent dissent or criticism. Human Rights Watch has long expressed concerns over anti-separatist sweeps by the police, which often result in individuals who peacefully express support for independence being arrested and detained on charges of treason or rebellion (makar). The government continues to restrict access by foreign human rights monitors and journalists to Papua, exacerbating the existing climate of impunity and making investigations extremely difficult. Prior to being ordered to close its Jayapura office, the ICRC had been visiting detainees in Papua's Abepura prison, where prison guards continued to torture inmates, including political prisoners Buchtar Tabuni and Yusak Pakage.

In July a series of shootings at the Freeport goldmine in Timika left three people dead, including one Australian. Police, declaring that the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was involved in the attacks, arrested at least 20 Papuans in relation to the killings and declared seven as suspects. The OPM denied any involvement, and those targeted by the police insisted that they were neither affiliated with the OPM nor participants in the attacks. In November police released the final seven Papuans detained in connection with the incident. In November a Manokwari district court convicted three men of makar (rebellion), for raising a pro-independence flag".

(Note. Yusak Pakage has been released in July and this is welcome however a large number of political prisoners still remain in jail.)


The Indonesian security forces have also been conducting sweeping operations in the Puncak Jaya regency in the highlands of West Papua looking for members of the OPM. These security operations have occurred regularly in the Puncak Jaya region leaving the local people in fear and traumatised. There has been a call by the authorities for the OPM to surrender and there is a danger that if the OPM does not surrender a much larger security operation will take place. The possibility of a larger military operation taking place is only adding to the fear in local communities in the region.


We thank all the Forum leaders for raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua in the official communiqué at past PIF summits.

At the PIF summit in Vanuatu in August, the Australia West Papua Association
urges the Pacific Islands Forum

to have the issue of West Papua on its agenda and also on the agenda of all future meetings of the PIF as a regional issue of concern

urges the PIF to send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

urges the PIF to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President and call on him to halt any ongoing or proposed military operations in the Puncak Jaya region.

urges the PIF to grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self-determination.

The International community has be stating that the autonomy package is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. However , not only have the West Papuan people rejected it but even those institutions that were implementing it have also realised it has failed. We believe that it is pointless for the international community to keep saying the autonomy package is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. AWPA believes that regional organisations such as the PIF can play an important role in helping facilitate dialogue between the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government and we encourage the PIF to urge the Indonesian President to dialogue with representative of the West Papuan people to discuss all the issues of concern in the territory.

AWPA (Sydney)

ENDS

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