Justice for West Papua
I write to express my deep distress at the recent brutal attacks and killings by the Indonesian military in West Papua. While the Australian government and people should strive for good relations with Indonesia, this should not at the expense of Australia covering up, excusing, condoning or abetting human rights violations and repression in West Papua.
The Indonesian army has a long, sordid history of abuses and other appalling actions in East Timor and elsewhere and is still pursuing these same brutal, oppressive policies in West Papua.
I also have grave concerns about the acute poverty that exists and the continuing dispossession of land and other problems in West Papua. The region’s rich resources of timber and minerals are being plundered, but West Papua is the poorest area in Indonesia, with the native population getting little benefit.
For far too long successive Australian governments have remained silent, pretending that there were no problems in West Papua. Meanwhile the Indonesian army continues to brutally repress the people of the region.
When people are arrested, beaten, imprisoned and killed for expressing their opinions or for taking part in peaceful protests in West Papua, then Australians have a responsibility to speak out about the plight of indigenous Melanesians and support justice and human rights for the people of West Papua.
Hurstbridge, Vic, Abridged.
Detained refugees lack hope
I, a member of Christians for Peace and the Newcastle branch of the Socialist Alliance, visited Villawood detention centre three times, motivated by the words of Christ: “When I was a prisoner, you visited me.”
In the eyes of the detainees, you see they lack hope. They flee from terror, with no option but to leave home, family and country for a safe haven. And their fate? To be locked up without knowledge of when release would come into that longed for safe haven.
When release doesn’t come and appeals fail, the results are rioting and suicide.
I remember my visits, sharing cups of tea, listening to stories, their gratitude for someone who cared, who understood their plight.
But most of all, I remember the partings. When I was free to go and they were to remain behind, locked up.
I remember the closeness of their embrace, as if they clung to me. And my words to them: “God bless you and keep you safe.” And their reply: “God bless you and thank you for coming.”
Cardiff, NSW [Abridged]