Senator the Hon Penny Wong
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
9 March 2023
Dear Foreign Minister,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney concerning the issue of West Papua. Tragically, the human rights situation in West Papua is seriously deteriorating.
There are ongoing clashes between the Indonesian security forces (TNI) and the Free Papua Movement (TPNPB), resulting in casualties on both sides. The security forces continue to conduct military operations particularly in the highlands resulting in civilian deaths and people fleeing in fear for their lives. The security force operations have created a large number of internal refugees.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has recorded that as of December 2022, that as many as 60,642 civilians have been displaced and 732 of these had died as a result of the armed conflict between the Indonesian military and the Free Papua Movement.
In an article in the local media in West Papua (Jubi, 7 March 2023), it was reported that
in the past week, the security forces conducted a military operation in Yahukimo Regency during which they seized property and arrested a number of civilians. The security operation was instigated by the military after a clash between the TNI and the TPNPB which occurred in the Dekai District. A student community group reported (to the local media) that "the security forces confiscated property belonging to civilians and the community. There were several civilians arrested by the authorities during the sweeping,".
The Student Community also reported that because of the military operation the local people were in a state of fear and unable to carry out their normal daily activities. The students also condemned the authorities and urged them to stop sending the military to Yahukimo. They also urged the Yahukimo Police chief to stop arresting civilians, and to immediately release all civilians who are detained and urged the government to withdraw the TNI and police from the District.
A number of Governments' seem to believe that the human rights situation has improved under the present Indonesian President, but the governor of the Indonesian government's policy think-tank, the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) said that the violence in Papua has tended to increase under the leadership of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
We are sure you are aware of the situation in West Papua and we won't go into great detail of all the human rights abuses that have occurred recently because of military operations in the territory.
However, we would like to bring your attention to the extract below from a UN media release.
Geneva (1 March 2022) – UN human rights experts today expressed serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, citing shocking abuses against indigenous Papuans, including child killings, disappearances, torture and mass displacement of people. The experts called for urgent humanitarian access to the region, and urged the Indonesian Government to conduct full and independent investigations into abuses against the indigenous peoples.
"Between April and November 2021, we have received allegations indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including of young children, enforced disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment and the forced displacement of at least 5,000 indigenous Papuans by security forces," the experts said. They said estimates put the overall number of displaced, since the escalation of violence in December 2018, at between 60,000 to 100,000 people. (https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/indonesia-un-experts-sound-alarm-serious-papua-abuses-call-urgent-aid)
We urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian government to urge Jakarta to control its military in the territory, urging a halt to all military operations and to release all political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people.
We also urge a rethink of military aid to the Indonesian forces until there is an improvement in the human rights situation in the territory.