Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Senate, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
4 April 2019
Dear Foreign Minister,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney concerning the latest report from the human rights organization "Front Line Defenders" (FLD).
The report concerns the Indonesian security force operation in the Nduga region of West Papua. According to the report the Indonesian security forces have caused thousands of people to flee their homes for safety to neighbouring districts. (AWPA has written two previous letters to you concerning the military operation in the Nduga region, on the 18 December 2018 and again on the 2 January 2019).
In its report, FLD has estimated that up to 32,000 people have fled the Nduga regency because of the military operations in the area.
Internal refugees consist of 4,276 in Mapenduma District. 4,369 in Mugi District. 5,056 in Jigi District. 5,021 in Yal District. 3,775 in Mbulmu Yalma District. 4,238 Kagayem District. 2,982 in the Nirkuri District. 4,001 in the Inikgal District. 2,021 in the Mbua District and 1,704 in the Dal District.
Hundreds of people have also fled to the forests in fear for their lives, facing difficulties due to lack of food, proper shelter and potential sickness.
Below is an extract from an article in The Jakarta Post on the situation "Military operations in Nduga violate human rights: Report", (3 April).
"Residents alleged the TNI has killed at least 25 people, including two students, who were not connected to separatist rebels."Nduga residents now live in fear and trauma. They have lost everything during the military operations," said an investigator, Theo Hesegem. He urged the government to withdraw the TNI from Nduga and instead adopt a soft approach through dialogue. Similar opinions were expressed by local clergymen Erson Wenda and Esmond Walilo and Catholic priest John Jonga. The three figures expressed hopes that residents could go back to their villages and rebuild their homes and other public facilities soon."We have seen numerous military operations and human rights violations since 1969, and it seems that we are far from the finish line," John said, adding that the key to stopping the clashes was the government's willingness to arrange a sincere dialogue with the Free Papua Movement".
The Jakarta Post article also reported that "at least nine mothers had given birth in the forests without proper medical treatment, risking their lives," and up to Thirty-four schools had reportedly been damaged by the Indonesian military
The Nduga Case Investigation Team from Front Line Defenders included respected human rights advocates, Theo Hasegem, and Father John Djonga, who gathered extensive information on the human rights and humanitarian crisis in the region. They reported it to the Amnesty International office in Jakarta on Friday March 29.
Father John Djonga called for Indonesia to allow access to media and humanitarian organisations to West Papua, and for a UN human rights mission to be granted access.
The Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, church and civil society organisations have also called on Indonesia to withdraw its troops from the Nduga regency, stating that the presence of the military and police in Nduga has triggered trauma among the villagers in that regency and that they have fled to the forest.
We urge you to also add your voice, calling on Jakarta not only to allow access for humanitarian organisations so they can support and aid the internal refugees created by the security operation, but to also urge Jakarta to withdraw its troops from the Nduga regency.