In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (10 Jan 2022), It was reported that Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that his focus was on "prevailing peace" in the region, and that he also thought it was important to be honest and speak frankly with the Australian public.
"If there was conflict of some nature in our region, then I don't think the public want to wake up to that news in the newspaper, not having heard anything about it, or the prospect of it, before," he said. So, I think it's best firstly to be honest.
AWPA is encouraged that Minister Dutton is concerned about conflicts in the region and believes the Australian public should know about them.
However, much of his comment is to do with China and ignores other conflicts in the region and in particular the one in West Papua.
Joe Collins of AWPA said, "over the past year there have been a number of Indonesian security force operations in West Papua in response to clashes between the security forces and the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The Military operations have caused large numbers of Papuans to flee to safety with over 4,000 fleeing from 13 villages in the Yahukimo regency alone".
"There are regular arrests of Papuans for simply taking part in peaceful rallies including that of Victor Yeimo, a high-profile activist who faces charges of treason simply for taking part in an anti-racism protest in 2019".
Australia trains and holds joint exercises with the Indonesian military.
Hopefully Minister Dutton will raise concerns about the ongoing abuses committed by the Indonesian military in West Papua with his Indonesian counterpart and urge the release of all political prisoners.
But maybe being frank and speaking honestly with the Australian public about human rights abuses is selective?