West Papua

About 6000 people rallied in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua on May 2 demanding a referendum on independence. The demonstration also commemorated the illegal occupation of West Papua in 1963.

West Papua Media Alerts reported on May 2 that West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Victor Yeimo said: “We want to show Indonesia and the international community that we are not just a handful of people who want independence. All people of West Papua want to be free.”

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) issued a statement on March 29 calling for the immediate release of five West Papuan nurses who have been arrested and jailed by the Indonesian government for taking part in industrial action.

Eight nurses and midwives were detained on March 20 by the criminal investigation unit of the Papuan police in Jayapura, ANF acting federal secretary Yvonne Chaperon said. Five remain in jail.

Thousands of West Papuans marched in the capital Jayapura on January 26, AFP said that day.

Marchers rejected the area’s “special autonomy” status within Indonesia and demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia.

Protesters chanted: “Indonesia the coloniser, Indonesia the oppressor, Indonesia the robber.”

The action included students from Cenderawasih University, the Indonesian Christian Students Movement and church members, Tempo Interactive said on January 26.

West Papuan refugees in Papua New Guinea have been terrorised and arrested by police, West Papua Media Alerts said on January 28. They were allegedly arrested on behalf of the Indonesian military and local logging interests.

Police and soldiers rounded up 79 refugees living in camps around Vanimo, on PNG’s north coast near the border with West Papua, in the early hours of January 23.

The soldiers burned down at least 30 refugee houses, destroyed crops and food, and assaulted people, WPMA said. Other refugees have reportedly fled to the jungle.

Anger has erupted in West Papua at the light sentences handed to three Indonesian soldiers responsible for torturing two West Papuans.

The soldiers received between eight and 10 months' jail for “insubordination” rather than the more serious charge of torture, The Australian said on January 24. They will be allowed to continue their military careers.

A number of Wikileaks revelations have shown that US officials, despite their public stance, have been well aware of corruption and human rights abuses of regimes it has supported. In some cases, the US funded these regimes and trained their military.

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Indonesia

A leaked September 2009 US cable indicates that US officials are aware that in West Papua, the Indonesian military (TNI) are responsible for serious human rights abuses and corruption.

Maire Leadbeater is a spokesperson for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee (Auckland). She recently returned from West Papua, a nation that has faced repression since its occupation by Indonesia in 1963. She spoke to Green Left Weekly's Ash Pemberton.

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Can you give your impressions of West Papuan society under Indonesian occupation?

Leaked military documents have confirmed that Indonesia’s elite special forces unit Kopassus routinely engages in “murder [and] abduction”. The documents also show Kopassus officially defines civilian dissidents as its “enemy” in its operations in West Papua.

The documents, posted by journalist Allan Nairn at Allannairn.com on November 9, identify Indonesia’s primary enemies in West Papua as unarmed civilians involved in the independence movement.

Videos showing the torture of West Papuans by occupying Indonesian soldiers have embarrassed the Indonesian government ahead of a scheduled visit in November by US President Barack Obama.

Obama is due to discuss a security deal that would involve the US training Indonesian military units accused of human rights violations.

A video posted at FreeWestPapua.wordpress.com shows two Papuans from Gurage village being tied down and interrogated by Indonesian soldiers about the alleged location of weapons belonging to the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

West Papuan leaders have rejected the possibility of talks with the Indonesian government until it acknowledges human rights abuses and ensures economic development, the October 5 Jakarta Globe said.

Indonesia has claimed West Papua as its territory since a fraudulent vote by handpicked Papuans in 1969. It continues to deny Papuans the right to self-determination, repressing expressions of support for Papuan independence.

Herman Awom of the Papuan People’s Council told the Globe: “We don’t want to talk to Jakarta because Jakarta never wants to talk to us.

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