Indonesian military forces have stepped up their campaign of repression in West Papua in recent months. But leaders of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) continue to defy Indonesian demands to surrender. The campaign for West Papuan independence has been amplified by the continuing repression and lack of improvement of living standards under the current “special autonomy” system. An eyewitness report from West Papua Media Announcements (WPMA) posted on Pacific.scoop.co.nz on June 16 described a large military mobilisation in the mountainous Puncak Jaya region in central West Papua.
News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children, injured people chained to their hospital beds and several assassinations of local leaders of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of most Thai citizens.
On June 1, part-Peruvian US actor and indigenous rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher was arrested for “disorderly conduct” after chaining herself to the White House fence while Peruvian President Alan Garcia met with US President Barack Obama. Garcia refers to the Amazonian indigenous peoples of his country as barbaric savages. Kilcher had doused her body in black paint, symbolic of the oil killing the Amazon and its people.
The United States has renewed military aid to Honduras with a donation of 25 heavy trucks valued at US$812,000, Spanish website infodefensa.com said. On June 18, US ambassador Hugo Llorens also announced Washington would give Honduras $75 million through USAID for various development projects and $20 million as part of the Merida Program to enhance “security”.
On March 10 Veronnica Baxter, a 34-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Cunnamulla country, south-west Queensland, was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand. She dressed, appeared, and had identified as a woman for 15 years and was known by family and friends as a woman. Yet she was placed at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.
US intelligence services are closely monitoring the movements of Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, after he said the website would soon release a classified Pentagon video showing a May 2009 US air strike in Afghanistan that killed up to 140 civilians. The “Garani” video, if released, would follow the video released by Wikileaks in May, which showed US soldiers in an Apache helicopter fatally shooting about a dozen civilians in Iraq, including a reporter from news agency Reuters. That video received worldwide prominence and considerably heightened Wikileaks’ profile.
Ethnic violence against the Uzbek minority in the southern Kyrgyz cities of Jalalabad and Osh has created more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people. The official death toll is more than 200, but Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva told the June 16 Washington Post that the real figure may be 10 times higher. Otunbayeva came to power in a mass uprising in April against former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who himself came to power through extra-parliamentary means in 2005. Before Bakiyev fled, his security forces killed 75 protesters.
Hundreds of Thais and an Australian remain in jail, as the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva continues to repress the grassroots pro-democracy Red Shirt movement. Some Red Shirt protesters are still in hiding. This follows the full-scale military assault on May 19 that ended a six-week protest by thousands of Red Shirts in the commercial centre of Bangkok. Australian Colin Purcell, of Perth, has been caught up in the repression and is still detained by police.
The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date. “The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval. But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.
Human rights organisations have reported that, almost a year after the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, repression by security forces had left the country “more dangerous than Colombia”. An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation confirmed that the murder, harassment and intimidation of opposition supporters, journalists and peasant and worker organisers had continued “with impunity” since the coup regime handed power to President Porfirio Lobo in January.