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Suspend military ties with Indonesia: Greens

Greens Media Release - October 20, 2011

Australian Greens Senator and spokesperson on West Papua, Richard Di Natale, is calling on the Australian government to suspend military cooperation with Indonesia.

Last night the Indonesian military (TNI) opened fire on the third West Papuan People's Congress, arrested community leaders and hundreds more. There are reports from a single witness of nine delegates shot while trying to flee.

"This is the latest in a series of escalating acts of repression by the Indonesian military in West Papua," said Senator Di Natale.

"The Australian government cannot sit on its hands while these appalling acts continue to occur.

"The Minister for Defence should immediately announce a suspension of defence cooperation with Indonesia, until this matter is properly investigated and the President has committed to open dialogue with Papuan leaders.

"The government should also pressure the Indonesian authorities to allow access by foreign journalists. The best protection the Papuans can hope for is the light of international scrutiny.

"In the meantime, the Australian government should send a fact-finding mission to the area and find out for itself what is going on."

The Greens have sought full detail on the millions of dollars spent on Australia's defence cooperation with Indonesia in the past.

"The government also needs to come clean on support for the Indonesian military. Australians would be horrified to know their money and their government supports human rights violations in West Papua, one of our nearest neighbours."

Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600