Dear Pacific Islands Forum leaders,
On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), I am writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua.
There has been no improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua since the last Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) was held in Suva, Fiji in July 2022.
AWPA will not reiterate the tragic history of West Papuan as we understand the PIF Leaders are well aware of the issue.
However, numerous reports have documented the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, the burning of villages during military operations and the targeting of civilians including children. The most recent report by Human Rights Monitor titled "Destroy them first... discuss human rights later"(August 2023), brings to attention the shocking abuses that are ongoing in West Papua and should be of concern to the PIF Leaders.
"This report provides detailed information on a series of security force raids in the Kiwirok District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province (until 2022 Papua Province) between 13 September and late October 2021. Indonesian security forces repeatedly attacked eight indigenous villages in the Kiwirok District, using helicopters and spy drones. The helicopters reportedly dropped mortar grenades on civilian homes and church buildings while firing indiscriminately at civilians. Ground forces set public buildings as well as residential houses on fire and killed the villagers' livestock."
The Indonesian security force operations have also created thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDP) who have fled to the forests to escape the Indonesian military. It has been estimated that there are up to 76,000 IDPs in the highlands living in remote shelters in the forest and they lack access to food, sanitation, medical treatment, and education.
Indonesia claims to be a democracy yet it continues to intimidate peaceful West Papuan activists ignoring a number of articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
AWPA would like to thank the PIF leaders for discussing and raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua at recent Forum meetings and also at various sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
At the Forty-Sixth Pacific Islands Forum held in Port Moresby in September 2015, "Leaders requested the Forum Chair to convey the views of the Forum to the Indonesian Government, and to consult on a fact-finding mission to discuss the situation in Papua with the parties involved."
At the Fiftieth Pacific Islands Forum held in Tuvalu in August 2019,
"Leaders welcomed the invitation by Indonesia for a mission to West Papua (Papua) by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and strongly encouraged both sides to finalise the timing of the visit and for an evidence-based, informed report on the situation be provided before the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in 2020".
In light of the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, AWPA urges the PIF Leaders to
- Discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in the Cook Islands, 6-10 November 2023.
- Continue to urge the Indonesian Government to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.