West Papuans urge Dutton, AFP to stop training Indonesian military

November 19, 2020
Photo: Make West Papua Safe

West Papuan refugees and human rights campaigners again attempted to deliver a request to meet to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Ministry for Home Affairs on November 16.

They are acting on behalf of West Papuan human rights defenders living inside occupied West Papua to discuss the training of Indonesian police and paramilitaries. They made the same attempt on October 12, but received no response.

The AFP has helped train more than 21,000 Indonesian police at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). Those trained include the counter-insurgency group Special Detachment 88 and the Indonesian paramilitary police BRIMOB, who are routinely accused of human rights violations, including the murder of children.

Make West Papua Safe spokesperson Zelda Grimshaw said: “The Indonesian police are the key perpetrators of grave human rights violations in West Papua. Instead of making West Papua safe and ensuring human rights standards are adhered to, the AFP’s police training program in Indonesia is creating more effective human rights abusers. This is a systemic failure of the AFP.”

Since the AFP began training the Indonesian police at JCLEC, human rights organisations including Amnesty International Indonesia, the International Coalition on Papua, TAPOL, PAHAM and ELSHAM ( Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy) have all reported that human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings in West Papua, have grown steadily worse.

The AFP does not have any formal monitoring or evaluative framework in place to assess the effectiveness or human rights impact of their training.

Grimshaw said it was important to establish what AFP guidelines say about torture, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detention.

“West Papuan human rights defenders have signalled their readiness to meet with Minister Dutton and AFP Commissioner Kershaw, at substantial personal risk,” she said, adding that it was in everyone’s interest to uphold international human rights covenants.

She said the West Papuans also had a right to “discuss the consequences of Australia’s ‘security’ investments in Indonesian policing,” given that Indonesia is currently the occupying power.

This rally was part of a five-year campaign by Make West Papua Safe, an international campaign designed to stop foreign government and corporate support for the Indonesian police and military operating in West Papua.

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