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Bishop should raise West Papua human rights issues - AWPA

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Media release 4 December 2013

Julie Bishop should be raising the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government.

On her trip to Indonesia to try and smooth relations with Jakarta over the spying scandal, our foreign minister should also be raising the crackdown on the recent peaceful rallies in West Papua with the Indonesian Government.

Joe Collins of AWPA said, " leading up to West Papuan national flag day , the security forces cracked down on peaceful rallies arresting demonstrators and in particular members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPP). This visit by Julie Bishop is also the perfect opportunity for the Australian Government to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government.

At the rally that took place on the 26 November, the security forces arrested up to 26 political activists. According to a human rights lawyer who saw them in detention at the Jayapura City police station, there were indications that they had been beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees had bruises or swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At least 12 people are still in police custody. Although the security forces tried to blame the demonstrators for some of the violence that occurred it is believed by local activists that it was instigated by the security forces to make the KNPB a scapegoat and to intimidate West Papuans so as not to take part in rallies on their national flag day on the 1st December.

Joe Collins said "if Australia continues to ignore the situation in West Papua instead of trying to help solve all the issues of concern that the West Papuan people have, then all we are doing is putting off a greater crises in our relations with Jakarta and the next time it will be about West Papua".

ENDS

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