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Letter to Aus. Foreign Min. - West Papua Activists

Australia West Papua Association, Sydney

The Hon Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
ACT 2600

2 November 2009

Re; West Papuan political activists Yoab Syatfle and Victor Yeimo

Dear Stephen Smith,

I am writing to you concerning Yoab Syatfle, a political activist in West Papua because of concern for his safety. Yoab Syatfle has received a number of death threats which were sent by SMS to his mobile phone and apparently related to his peaceful political activities. We are concerned that his life may be in danger.

We believe that Yoab Syatfle has been targeted because he is a prominent peaceful political activist in Papua. He is the Sorong Secretary of the Papua Traditional Council (Dewan Adat Papua) which represents Indigenous communities in Papua. He is also Secretary of the Papua National Consensus Team, a non-violent group campaigning for a peaceful internationally mediated solution to the political problems in Papua.

On 26 October, Yoab Syatfle received a number of anonymous SMS messages threatening that he would be abducted and killed if he left his house. One of them warned: “you are one of the people we are looking for, we remember you, if you leave your house yard one more time, you will be killed”.

We are also concerned about another West Papuan political activist , Victor Yeimo who was arrested on the 21st October in the Mansapurani Sentani hotel in Jayapura during a police operation called Pekat, which began on the same day, 21 October. We believe he was arrested solely because he helped organise a number of peaceful demonstrations earlier this year. Victor Yeimo has always advocated a peaceful solution to West Papua's future.

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We believe that the targeting of peaceful political activists by the security forces in West Papua is a deliberate campaign to create fear and stifle discussion of the many issues of concern to the West Papuan people.

These include the human rights situation in the territory, the exploitation of their natural resources and the right to discuss their future

The right to free expression, opinion and assembly is guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the country is a state party.

We request you to use your good offices to urge the Indonesian Government

to take immediate action to ensure the safety of Yoab Syatfle,

and to hold an immediate, effective and impartial investigation into the threats he has received with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.

to protect peaceful activists from harassment

to allow human rights organisations in West Papua to work without interference from the security forces.

to release Victor Yeimo and all other West Papuan political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)

The Indonesian Embassy, Canberra
The Australian Embassy, Jakarta
various human rights organisations

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