Greens attack inaction on West Papua killings

Issue 

Greens attack inaction on West Papua killings

WA Greens Senator Dee Margetts has criticised the federal government's lack of response to the alleged killings of 37 villagers by Indonesian troops at the Freeport Mine in West Papua.

"The government is using delaying tactics and is not seeking to honestly and effectively investigate the killings", Margetts said on May 29. She said that it was "appalling" that there has been a six-month delay in sending an independent investigator to look into alleged human rights abuses.

Foreign minister Gareth Evans, in question time, said he would ask the ambassador to Jakarta to visit Freeport and investigate — with information provided by the Indonesian government.

It is charged by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid that 37 people — 22 civilians and 15 alleged guerillas — were killed by the Indonesian army and private security staff of the large US-owned Freeport mine between June 1994 and February 1995. According to their report, an unknown number of other West Papuans were arrested, beaten and tortured — all for protesting against the expansion of the copper and gold mine.

Much of that information was also reported independently by a correspondent in Green Left Weekly on April 12.

"West Papua is another Bougainville and another East Timor, just less well known", Margetts said. "Their rivers are polluted by mining tailings, their indigenous communities are dispossessed, and they are repressed by the military for protesting.

"We cannot continue to ignore the human rights abuses of our neighbours, especially when we are providing them with the training, arms and ammunitions to commit those offences."