Australia gives award to Indonesian general, despite unlawful killings in West Papua

General Andika Perkasa. Photo: tniad.mil.id

Amnesty International Australia (AI) and AI Indonesia have criticised Canberra's awarding of an honorary officer of the Order of Australia — the highest government honour — to General Andika Perkasa, chief of the Indonesian armed forces.

“Indonesia’s armed forces have been accused of unlawful killings and violent repression of peaceful protesters in West Papua,” AI campaigner Veronica Koman said on December 7.

“To award the general in charge of the same military accused of these grave human rights violations is a slap in the face to all the internally displaced people, civilians killed in the armed conflict and all the other victims of human rights abuses that have not been investigated.”

The United Nations estimates between 60,000 and 100,000 Papuans are displaced due the Indonesian armed forces lethal opposition to the West Papuan independence struggle.

Perkasa was given the award in recognition of his role in building cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian Armies, Australian Embassy spokesperson Penny Williams said.

“The Australian government should hang its head in shame for rewarding someone presiding over an unaccountable military — particularly when it is the recipient of so much Australian aid,” Koman said.

“This is an insult to the victims and families of the gross human rights violations in Paniai where only one soldier is being prosecuted in what victims have rejected as a show trial,” AI Indonesia's Ari Pramuditya said.

“No soldiers have taken any responsibility for the torture of seven Papuan children leaving one dead in Sinak in February. Soldiers who mutilated four Papuan civilians in Timika in August have not gone to trial,” she added.

“If Australia is truly committed to human rights then its bilateral relationships should also reflect that commitment and ask Indonesia to allow Australia to access and deliver aid to all those displaced on their own land.”

Australia’s honours and awards secretariat told Crikey on December 14 that defence minister Richard Marles recommended the appointments for “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large”.

Human Rights Watch said Indonesian soldiers' alleged abuses were rarely investigated, let alone prosecuted.