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Open letter to MSG leaders

Press Release – Australia West Papua Association

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), is writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua . The human rights situation in West Papua has continued to deteriorate since the last Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit with ongoing human rights …Open letter to MSG leaders

28 June 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), is writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua . The human rights situation in West Papua has continued to deteriorate since the last Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit with ongoing human rights abuses occurring in the territory. We understand that you are aware of the issues of concern in West Papua but we would like to bring your attention to a number of recent reports that raise grave concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.
In Amnesty’s International Report for 2010, it states in relation to Papua
“Violence increased sharply around the time of parliamentary and presidential elections, creating a climate of fear and intimidation. There were reports that security forces used unnecessary or excessive force during demonstrations and tortured and ill treated people during arrest, questioning and detention. Security forces also reportedly committed unlawful killings. Severe restrictions were imposed on the right to peaceful assembly and expression”.

Amnesty’s report also points out that
“At least 114 people were detained for peacefully expressing their views. The overwhelming majority were peaceful political activists who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for raising prohibited pro independence flags in Maluku or Papua”.
Below is an extract from Human Rights Watch World Report for 2010, in relation to West Papua.

“Papua and West Papua
Indonesian authorities have responded to a longstanding, low-level armed separatist insurgency in the provinces of Papua and West Papua with a strong troop presence and often harsh and disproportionate responses to non-violent dissent or criticism. Human Rights Watch has long expressed concerns over anti-separatist sweeps by the police, which often result in individuals who peacefully express support for independence being arrested and detained on charges of treason or rebellion (makar). The government continues to restrict access by foreign human rights monitors and journalists to Papua, exacerbating the existing climate of impunity and making investigations extremely difficult. Prior to being ordered to close its Jayapura office, the ICRC had been visiting detainees in Papua’s Abepura prison, where prison guards continued to torture inmates, including political prisoners Buchtar Tabuni and Yusak Pakage.

In July a series of shootings at the Freeport goldmine in Timika left three people dead, including one Australian. Police, declaring that the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was involved in the attacks, arrested at least 20 Papuans in relation to the killings and declared seven as suspects. The OPM denied any involvement, and those targeted by the police insisted that they were neither affiliated with the OPM nor participants in the attacks. In November police released the final seven Papuans detained in connection with the incident. In November a Manokwari district court convicted three men of makar (rebellion), for raising a pro-independence flag”.

At the present time Indonesian security forces are conducting sweeping operations in the Puncak Jaya regency in the highlands of West Papua looking for members of the OPM. These security operations have occurred regularly in the Puncak Jaya region leaving the local people in fear and traumatised. A deadline of the 28 June has been given to the OPM to surrender otherwise a much larger security operation will take place. The possibility of a larger military operation taking place is only adding to the fear in local communities in the region.

At the MSG summit in Fiji in July, the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA)

urges the MSG to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President and call on him to halt any ongoing or proposed military operations in the Puncak Jaya region.
We note that the people of Kanaky (New Caledonia) are represented at the MSG by the Front de Libération National Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS). We believe the time is now right for the Melanesian people of West Papua to be also granted observer status at the MSG.

We urge you to support Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, who has said he will sponsor the issue of Papua to the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Islands Forum meetings and would propose that the independent movement of West Papua be granted Observer Status within these two regional bodies.

We also urge you to support Vanuatu’s parliamentary motion calling for the UN General Assembly to help clarify the legality of the process under which West Papua was ceded from the Netherlands to Indonesia in the 1960s.

The West Papuan people have being calling for dialogue with Jakarta and AWPA believes that regional organisations such as the MSG can play an important role in helping facilitate dialogue between the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government. We encourage the MSG to urge the Indonesian President to dialogue with representative of the West Papuan people to work out all the issues of concern in the territory.

We note that the Melanesian Spearhead Group led by
Prime Minister Edward Natapei
visited New Caledonia
at the invitation of the
Front de Libération National Kanak et Socialiste(FLNKS)
. We encourage the MSG to send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.

AWPA (Sydney)

ENDS

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