Pacific Scoop

Parkop accuses Indonesia of using PNG police to ‘harass and suppress’ refugees

PNG troops

Papua New Guinean police and troops used in Operation "Sunset Merona" against West Papuans. Photo: The National

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

The Governor of Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District, Powes Parkop, has accused the police of being “used by the  Indonesian government to harass and suppress” suspected West Papuan activists campaigning for independence of West Papua.

He has called on Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to call off all operations against Papuan refugees or border-crossers in Sandaun province.

In an open letter at the weekend to Somare, he said:

I write to express my deepest concern and reservation against the on going police operation in the Sanduan (or West Sepik) province, otherwise known as Operation “Sunset Merona”. Since the operation began, I have received many complaints from people in the Sanduan province as to the conduct and focus of the operations. These complaints have been received from ordinary citizens in that province but more particularly from West Papuan people who live in that province either as refugees or traditional border crossers exercising their rights under the Border Agreement between the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Indonesia.

From the West Papuan people, I have received complaints of intimidations, harassment, houses being demolished and burnt, food gardens being destroyed and people being detained without being charged for a criminal or migration offence. Those arrested have included West Papuans who have comes to PNG as refugees and who have to fend for themselves due to lack of support from either the PNG Government or from the Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees.

From the evidence and reports I have received and the from the conduct of the operation it has become obvious that this operation is targeted against West Papuan people either as refugees or suspect activists of the West Papuan struggle for independence.

In this respect, while I acknowledged that as an Independent State, we are obliged to prevent our borders from being using as a sanctuary for people planning and conducting violent acts against another State, we also risked allowing ourselves to become involved in a dispute that we formally recognised as being the domestic affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. Worse still, we will allow ourselves to be used by the Republic of Indonesia to suppress and intimidate West Papuan people from pursuing their legitimate struggle for independence.

Based on these reports and evidence, I appeal to your highest Office to immediately stop the operations as it is becoming obvious that our government and therefore police are being used by the  Indonesian Government to harass and suppress suspected West Papua activist campaigning for Independence of West Papua. This is morally and legally wrong.

While the government may not support the struggle of West Papuans people to self determination and independence, we have no right to suppress them or deprive them from exercising that right. The right to self-determination is universally recognised rights recognised under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under many United Nations Conventions. This right to self-determination includes the right to bear arms and used armed struggle as a means to attain self determination. Many colonised people have used arms struggle as a means of exercising or realising their rights to self determination where the colonial powers have denied them an opportunity to exercise that right peacefully. West Papuan people as a colonised people, deprived of peacefully exercising their right to self-determination have the right to bear arms and used all other means to enable them to realise their rights to self determination.

There is no evidence to date to show that the West Papuan people are using our territory to conduct armed attack against the Republic of Indonesia.  The evidence to date shows that all armed attack conducted by West Papuan people has been conducted within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. If it is an offence to peacefully advocate and support the rights of the people of West Papua to self-determination and independence, than I should be arrested too as I have been a long time advocate of West Papuan rights to self determination and independence. And there are thousands of Papua New Guineans who also support and advocate for the rights of West Papuans to self-determination and independence.

I therefore urge you as Prime Minister and a person revered as a leader of Melanesian people and Pacific people to stop our police and security forces from being used as a tool of suppression at the behest of the Indonesian Government. I urge you to recommend to the Commission for Police to put an end to this operation and to release all West Papuan people who have been detained and to compensate those who have their houses and food gardens destroyed.

Further, Prime Minister, I urge you not to deport any West Papuan suspected of being involved in the independence struggle to the Republic of Indonesia. I draw in this respect the recent conviction of three members of the members of the Indonesian military as a result of torturing of West Papuans. While the three men were convicted for a minor offence, the incident for which they [were] charged was fully exposed in a video posted on the internet which was seen by the entire international community. This incident confirms that while Indonesia is moving towards democratisation, its armed forces are still involved in vicious acts of violence and torture against so-0called separatists. There is  no guarantee that any one deported to the Republic of Indonesia will be safe or not subjected to torture or other forms of violence.

Due to public interest in this matter, I will be releasing copy of my letter to the public, including the media.

I look forward to your earliest reply.

Yours Sincerely

Governor and Member for NCD Provincial.

Source: 7238 West Papua Media Alerts/Pacific Media Watch

Nick Chesterfield on the PNG operation against West Papuans