The Australia West Papua Association has written to the Australian Foreign Minister concerning the situation in West Papua, urging her to call on Jakarta to withdraw the extra security forces it sent to West Papua as a way of easing tension and potentially saving lives.
AWPA also urges the Australian Government to rethink its ties with the Indonesian military and urge the government to encourage Jakarta to finalise the visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the territory as a matter of urgency.
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Senate, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
2 September 2019
Dear Foreign Minister,
I wrote to you on the 23 August 2019 concerning the situation in West Papua. This is a follow up letter concerning the issue as the situation in West Papua has greatly deteriorated in the past week.
After the arrest of 43 students in Surabaya on the 17 August, thousands of West Papuans took to the streets in all the major cities and towns across West Papua. The demonstrators were not only showing solidarity with the arrested students but also protesting against the racial abuse, both verbal and physical that occurred during the arrest.
Jakarta has now sent over 6000 extra troops to West Papua which can only exacerbate the situation and lead to more human rights abuses being committed against the local people.
An SBS news report on the 1 September 2019 showed footage of the Indonesian security forces firing directly at West Papuans who had their hands above their heads. Demonstrators say the incident occurred in Deiyai last week but because of the Internet shut down it has only come to light recently. It was also reported by local people that after a peaceful rally six bodies were found in front of the Regent's office, two more bodies were discovered in the nearby jungle and at least 15 other people were wounded.
A number of the demonstrators arrested have been charged with treason. In Metro Jaya two people were attested and charged with treason (makar) for simply flying the West Papuan flag. The Metro Jaya public relations division head Senior Commissioner Argo Yuwono said that the two stand accused of committing crimes against the state and attempted treason and have been charged under Article 106 in conjunction with Article 87 and or Article 110 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).
It is also of great concern that Indonesian militia groups (The Red – White Militia) are becoming involved in the demonstrations. Two West Papuans were gravely injured by Militia in Fakfak. The Red and White Militia groups have been trained by the Indonesia security forces to intimidate West Papuans (shades of East Timor).
The Guardian (2 September) also reported that three West Papuan students were reportedly shot in their dormitories by militia groups.
From the Guardian.
"The Papuan students were attacked in a dormitory in Abepura district, Jayapura, by police-backed armed militias on Sunday. One student was killed by a bullet wound to the chest. The students were reportedly attacked as they tried to defend themselves from vigilantes from a pro-Jakarta group calling itself Masyarakat Nusantara (Archipelago Community)".
In light of the seriously deteriorating situation in West Papua, we urge you to call on Jakarta to withdraw the extra security forces it sent to West Papua as a way of easing tension and potentially saving lives.
We urge the Australian Government to rethink its ties with the Indonesian military and urge you to encourage Jakarta to finalise the visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to West Papua as a matter of urgency.