West Papua: Talks rejected until abuses stop

October 9, 2010

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.

“Jakarta does this because they don’t want to admit that Papuans are killed through military oppression and they don’t want to acknowledge that the special autonomy status … has failed to empower the locals.”

On October 5, Indonesian police killed a member of the unarmed West Papuan community security force, Balim Petapa, near Wamena airport, West Papua Media Alerts said.

Police allegedly opened fire on a crowd who gathered to protest against the confiscation of uniforms that were being transported for Balim Petapa. Ten people were later arrested.

Two of the arrested were critically injured when police allegedly shot them for refusing to get out of the police truck, WPMA said on October 6.

Photos posted at WestPapuaMedia.info show hundreds of armed combat troops in the streets of Wamena to stop locals protesting against the shootings.

WPMA said police have blamed Balim Petapa for the incident, accusing them of attacking the police post. Balim Petapa was formed in July to provide security at protests to guard against human rights abuses by Indonesian forces.

This followed the killing of two civilians in Manokwari by the paramilitary Mobile Brigade (Brimob) on September 15. Brimob troops opened fire on a crowd confronting them about a traffic accident, killing Reverend Naftali Kuan and his son Septinus, an Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights report said.

Kuan’s wife, Antomina, was critically injured after falling into an abyss while escaping the gunfire.

Indonesian troops took over the town after thousands protested against the deaths, the September 17 Globe said. The protesters demanded that Brimob leave the area and that compensation be paid to the victims’ families, IPAHR said.

The Brimob officers involved were punished with jail sentences ranging between two and three weeks and suspensions of their promotions, the Jakarta Post said on September 25.

In light of Indonesia’s continued human rights abuses, Australian defence minister Stephen Smith has been forced to defend Australia’s renewed links to the special forces unit Kopassus, the Sydney Morning Herald said on September 29.

Kopassus has a long history of human rights abuses throughout Indonesia, including West Papua. It recently took part in a joint training exercise with the Australian SAS.

“Indonesia and Kopassus have come a long way”, Smith told Sky News on September 29. “We are now dealing with a modern Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, Reuters said on October 5 that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had cancelled a trip to the Netherlands after activists from the Maluku independence movement asked a Dutch court to have Yudhoyono arrested for human rights violations.

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