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AWPA Calls On PM To Raise Human Rights Situation

AWPA Calls On Julia Gillard To Raise The Human Rights Situation In West Papua On Her Visit To Indonesia

The Australian Prime Minister will visit Indonesia on the 1 and 2 November to d iscuss ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and increase cooperation across a number of economic, security, development and environmental challenges.

Joe Collins of AWPA said "in light of the recent reports of torture of West Papuans we are calling on the Prime Minister to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President. We are also calling on the Prime Minister to send a parliamentary delegation on a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory".

AWPA has regularly raised concerns that any aid or training given to the military could be used against the West Papuan people and we again urge the Prime Minister to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between the Australian military and any Indonesian units found to have been involved in human rights abuses.

Although the Indonesian military said they would investigate the incident we believe a full independent inquiry held by a relevant United Nations human rights organisation will be the only inquiry acceptable to the West Papuan people and are urging the Prime Minister to call for such an inquiry.

Letter to the Prime Minister

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

25 October 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), I am writing to you concerning your coming trip to Indonesia on the 1 and 2 November. AWPA would like you to raise the human rights situation in West Papua[1] during your talks with President Yudhoyono

I am sure you are aware of the recent media reports on the torture of West Papuans by the Indonesian military in the Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. The torture of the West Papuans by the Indonesian military was captured on video and shows in one scene a Papuan man having a plastic bag forced over his head and screaming in pain as a burning stick is held to his genitals. The horrific video has been seen around the world and rightly condemned. The Indonesian military has confirmed that members of the TNI did torture the West Papuans.

Just days after the release of the video another report surfaced of the burning of Bigiragi village, in the Puncak Jaya district by officers from the police’s Mobile Brigade. An official from the Papuan Customary Council (DAP) told the Jakarta Globe he had received graphic images of the destruction of Bigiragi village.

These incidents of human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian security forces are unfortunately not unusual and reports of the Indonesian security forces conducting military operations looking for the OPM in the Puncak Jaya region have been ongoing for years leaving the local people in fear and traumatised.

We understand that the whole island of New Guinea will always be strategically important to Australia and it is in the interests of the Australian Government to have a stable region to our north. However, in West Papua, the policies of the Indonesian Government, compounded by the actions of the Indonesian security forces will lead to the very instability the Australian Government is trying to avoid. Although Indonesia has made great progress towards democracy in recent years, unfortunately this has not translated to an improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua as the above incidents show.

AWPA and other civil society organizations have written regularly to Australian Governments over many years about our country’s ties with the Indonesian military. We have recently written to you concerning the torture of peaceful activists in Maluku. We have raised concerns that any aid or training given to the military could be used against the West Papuan people and we again urge you to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between the Australian military and any Indonesian units found to have been involved in human rights abuses.

Although the Indonesian military said they would investigate the incident we believe a full independent inquiry held by a relevant United Nations human rights organisation will be the only inquiry acceptable to the West Papuan people and urge you to call for such an inquiry. We also urge you to send an Australian parliamentary delegation on a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins
Secretary
AWPA (Sydney)

ENDS

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