Protesters target the Australian Defence Exports Office

December 4, 2022
Protesting war profiteers in Canberra on November 22. Photo: Cate Adams

“The Australian Defence Exports Office (ADEO) is a gift from the government to the weapons’ corporations,” Miriam Torzillo told protesters outside its office on November 22.

They were drawing attention to Australia’s role in helping Indonesia continue to violently oppress West Papuans who are trying to protect their ancestral lands from colonial land clearing, industrialisation, mining and displacement.

“It pushes and facilitates the export of weapons to our neighbours and throughout the world,” Torzillo said. “Thales and Electro Optic Systems are providing weapons systems to Indonesia, which are used in West Papua.

“The ADEO is assisting every weapons’ transnational, operating in Australia, to use their existing supply chains for weapons exports. This is devastating for civilian political movements in the region. These weapons are sure to be used against their own people with their so-called borders.”

The ADEO was set up as part of the former Coalition government’s defence exports strategy.

Ronny Kareni, a West Papua independence activist, said Australia plays a big part in the bloodshed in West Papua. He said Western nations’ geostrategic interests come at the expense of indigenous people globally. The West Papuan struggle for self-determination is no different to those of other Indigenous peoples.

Indonesia’s government strengthened defence cooperation with the new Australian government in June. He said the bilateral meeting confirmed more military and police training, with aid and funds going to Indonesia’s death squads. Kareni said this had led to the deaths of West Papuan independence leaders.

Labor must review its military cooperation with Indonesia, Kareni said. He said the new federal government should review the 2006 Lombok treaty, signed by Alexander Downer and Hassan Wirajuda, as “it is silent about the suffering of West Papuan people”.

Kareni said that Labor has raised concerns about human rights abuses in West Papua, it had not gone beyond words, nor acted on those concerns. He said ADEO’s role in providing weapons to Indonesia is a part of this. He said Canberra should intervene to stop in a recent deal by the United States to supply F15 jet fighters to Indonesia.

Kareni said West Papuans would protest on December 1 against Australia’s arming of Indonesia and concerns about climate change, including Jakarta’s support for a new coal mine and the need to protect the rainforests of West Papua which are the third largest in the world.

He said Elon Musk's rocket-launching facility, being built on the island of Biak, will not benefit the West Papuan people.

[A livestream of the protest can be seen at the Peace in Papua Facebook page or the War on West Papua website.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.