The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 10.
* * *
The Socialist Alliance condemns the Australian government’s ongoing support for Indonesian security forces, particularly the Detachment 88 “counter-terrorism” unit implicated in human rights abuses in the occupied nation of West Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia.
Detachment 88 has operated in West Papua for several years and has been implicated in killings, harassment and torture of Papuans as part of Indonesia’s efforts to repress the movement for independence.
The latest crackdown by security forces — which included the alleged involvement of Detachment 88 in the killing of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) leader Mako Tabuni — has finally gained much-deserved attention from the mainstream media and put pressure on the Australian government over its complicity in the repression.
Detachment 88 was formed after an agreement between Indonesia and the Australian government following the terrorist bombing in Bali in 2002. Australia has given tens of millions of dollars to pay for the unit’s equipment, training and facilities. The Australian Federal Police have also held special training seminars for the unit’s members.
The Australian government also has long-term links to the Kopassus special forces unit, notorious for its long history of human rights abuses throughout Indonesia, East Timor and West Papua.
As new KNPB leader Victor Yeimo told ABC TV's 7.30: “You [Australia] give money for Indonesia to kill people in West Papua. You are the perpetrators ... you are the actors of violence in West Papua.
“Australian government — also American government — they are actors of violence in West Papua because they fund them, they train them, and then with the gun they kill people. They kill us like animal.”
Australia has also provided political cover for successive Indonesian governments to maintain a regime of brutality in West Papua. Foreign minister Bob Carr’s comments on 7.30 on August 28 were typical of this — defending Indonesian officials as being “responsive” when Australian diplomats raised human rights concerns, despite human rights abuses continuing.
Western countries have long been complicit in Indonesia’s brutal treatment of West Papua. The harsh regime has helped facilitate the exploitation of the area’s riches in natural resources by Western and Indonesian companies. Papuans see little benefit from the pillaging of their land and have the lowest standard of living in Indonesia.
The Socialist Alliance recognises West Papua’s status as an illegally colonised nation. It supports the independence movement’s campaign for freedom from oppression, including its calls for an internationally supervised referendum on independence.
The Socialist Alliance calls on the Australian government to cut all ties with the Indonesian security forces. It must pressure Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses, including any responsible commanders and politicians.
Australia should pay reparations to the West Papuan people for any abuses committed by forces funded and trained by Australia.
The Socialist Alliance also calls on the Australian government to end its political support for Indonesia’s crimes and to recognise the right of the West Papuan people to exercise self-determination.