Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)PO Box 28, Spit Junction,NSW 2088
Senator the Hon Penny Wong
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
27 September 2023
Dear Foreign Minister,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney concerning the torture and killing of civilians in West Papua.
The Guardian (26 September 2023) reported that the Indonesian security forces had tortured and burned to death a 17-year-old high school student Wity Unue.
An extract from the Guardian repot quoting Raga Kogeya, a West Papuan human rights activist.
"Wity had been interrogated and detained along with three other boys and two young men under suspicion of being part of the troubled region's rebel army. They were taken by special forces soldiers who rampaged through the West Papuan village of Kuyawage, burning down houses and a church and terrorising locals. Transported by helicopter to the regional military headquarters 100km away, the group were beaten and burnt so badly by their captors that they no longer looked human.
Kogeya says Wity died a painful death in custody. The other five were only released after human rights advocates tipped off the local media. "The kids had all been tortured and they'd been tied up and then burned," says Kogeya, who saw the surviving boys' injuries first-hand on the day of their release. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/26/indonesian-military-accused-of-targeting-children-west-papua
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 Australian Government.
"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. "https://humanrightsmonitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/HRM_Destroy_Them_First_Special_Report_2023.pdf
The Indonesian security force operations have also created thousands of internal refugees who have fled to the forests to escape the Indonesian military. It has been estimated that there are up to 60,000 IDPs in the highlands living in remote shelters in the forest and they lack access to food, sanitation, medical treatment, and education.
In light of the ongoing human rights abuses in the territory, we are urging you to use your good office with the Indonesian Government,
To urge Jakarta to immediately halt all military operations in West Papua
To urge Jakarta to supply aid and health care to the West Papuan internal refugees by human rights and health care organisations trusted by the local people
and to rethink Australia cooperation with the Indonesian military until the Indonesian military is of a standard acceptable to the Australian people who care about human rights.