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AWPA Calls Rudd To Raise West Papua With Indonesia

Press Release – Australia West Papua Association

The Australia West Papua Association in Sydney has written an open letter to Prime Minister Rudd (below) asking that he raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President.AWPA Calls On Prime Minister Rudd To Raise West Papua With The Indonesian President During His Visit To Australia

The Australia West Papua Association in Sydney has written an open letter to Prime Minister Rudd (below) asking that he raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President.

Joe Collins of AWPA said “we understand that it is in the interests of the Australian Government to have good relations and friendship with Jakarta and to have a stable region to our north, but good relations with Jakarta should not be at the expense of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self-determination”

AWPA believes the situation in West Papua is deteriorating. Since last July there have been 14 incidents of shootings around the Freeport copper and gold mine including one on the 11 July in which Australian mine technician Drew Grant was killed.

AWPA believes that Australia can contribute greatly to peace and stability in West Papua by supporting the West Papuan people in capacity building in the fields of health, education and in attaining economic security.

We are calling on the Prime Minister to urge the Indonesian President to,
release all West Papuan political prisoners arrested for simply taking part in peaceful rallies which is their democratic right

As a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people control the security forces in West Papua, urging that the security forces halt their intimidation of human rights defenders and peaceful demonstrators as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding possible bloodshed.

As the West Papuan people are calling for dialogue with the Indonesian Government to try and solve the many issues of concern in West Papua. AWPA urges you to encourage the Indonesian President to dialogue with genuine representatives of the West Papuan people

And finally the Australia West Papua Association urges you to cease all ties between the Australian military and the Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus, until such time that Indonesian military personnel involved in past human rights abuses are brought to justice and the culture of the Indonesian military becomes of an acceptable standard to both the Australian military and the Australian people.

We also encourage the government to send a cross -parliamentary delegation to visit West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

Open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Australia West Papua Association
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088
The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

1 March 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to urge you to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President during his visit to Australia in March. AWPA believes the situation in West Papua is deteriorating. Since last July there have been 14 incidents of shootings around the Freeport copper and gold mine including one on the 11 July in which Australian mine technician Drew Grant was killed.
Although the Indonesian military have tried to blame the Free Papua Movement (OPM) for the ambushes, the OPM has denied any involvement in the shootings. The leader of the OPM in the area, Kelly Kwalik was killed by the Indonesian security forces on the 16 December, nevertheless, since his death another attack occurred near the mine on the 24 January in which nine people were injured. Many analysts suspect the shootings around Freeport are part of a turf war between the police and military about whom should receive payments from Freeport for protecting the mine.

An AFP report dated the 22 March 2009 stated that
“The Arizona-based company said its local subsidiary paid “less than” 1.6 million dollars through wire transfers and cheques in 2008 to provide a “monthly allowance” to police and soldiers at and around the Grasberg mine. The disclosure, made in response to questions from AFP, means the company continues to pay soldiers in contravention of a series of legal measures aimed at stopping military units working as paid protection, rights activists said”

Numerous reports have documented the military’s involvement in resource extraction in West Papua including their involvement in illegal logging and receiving protection fees paid by resource companies.
A report by researchers at the University of Indonesia and the International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development said “Indonesia’s military is deeply involved in illegal logging that threatens some of the world’s largest remaining forest, university researchers said Friday. Officials in the military and police covertly finance, coordinate or enable logging rackets in vast jungle, the second largest in the world after the Amazon”.

We could go on ad infinitum about reports of the security forces’ involvement in resource extraction and human rights abuses in West Papua. However, the specific questions we are asking is why are we involved in training and exercising with the Indonesian military? What benefits have the West Papuan people gained by our cooperation with the Indonesian security forces?

We understand that it is in the interests of the Australian Government to have good relations and friendship with Jakarta and to have a stable region to our north, but good relations with Jakarta should not be at the expense of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to “self-determination”. In fact, it is the policies of the Indonesian Government, compounded by the actions of the Indonesian security forces which will lead to the very instability the Australian Government is trying to avoid.

Although Indonesia has made great progress towards democracy in recent years, unfortunately this has not translated to an improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua. There are ongoing human rights abuses and a large number of political prisoners jailed simply because they raised the West Papuan national flag.

We would like to thank your government for the aid already given in support of HIV/AIDS programs in West Papua but we believe more could be done and West Papua should be an area of priority in our foreign aid contributions. West Papua is rich in natural resources but the West Papuan people have one of the poorest health standards in the archipelago. Although the Indonesian government has established health centers in the majority of sub-districts in West Papua, these centers lack properly trained staff ,medicines , diagnoses of illness and accountability of causes of death particularly in the more remote areas of the territory.

We believe that Australia can contribute greatly to peace and stability in West Papua by supporting the West Papuan people in capacity building in the fields of health, education and in attaining economic security.

AWPA urges you to raise the deteriorating situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President during your discussions with him on his visit to Australia.

We ask you to urge the Indonesian President to,
release all West Papuan political prisoners arrested for simply taking part in peaceful rallies which is their democratic right

as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people control the security forces in West Papua, urging that the security forces halt their intimidation of human rights defenders and peaceful demonstrators as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding possible bloodshed.

As the West Papuan people are calling for dialogue with the Indonesian Government to try and solve the many issues of concern in West Papua. AWPA urges you to encourage the Indonesian President to dialogue with genuine representatives of the West Papuan people

And finally the Australia West Papua Association urges you to cease all ties between the Australian military and the Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus, until such time that Indonesian military personnel involved in past human rights abuses are brought to justice and the culture of the Indonesian military becomes of an acceptable standard to both the Australian military and the Australian people.

We also encourage the government to send a cross -parliamentary delegation to visit West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)

ENDS

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