Activists call on Canberra to protest over human rights abuses in Papua

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Maybrat military clash
A clash between Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army in Maybrat regency reportedly on September 5 ... soldiers lead police. See embedded video below. Image: KL screenshot APR Notes for int'l humanitarian law observers: - level of intensity - the operation seems to be led by soldiers not police

By Susan Price in Sydney

West Papua activists have called on the Australian government to raise concerns about the Indonesian military’s ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, when they met with their Indonesian counterparts this week.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton are attending the seventh Indonesia-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministers 2+2 dialogue in Jakarta, which started yesterday, before continuing on to visit New Delhi, Seoul, Washington and New York.

Australia-West Papua Association spokesperson Joe Collins said: “We can expect all the usual statements about regional stability, peace, economic prosperity, terrorism and defence cooperation, but highly unlikely anything about human rights — unless it is criticism of China’s record.”

In a reply to correspondence from AWPA, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) indicated that because of Australia’s close relationship with Indonesia it had allowed DFAT to discuss a range of issues, including sensitive topics like the situation in Papua.

Given this close relationship, Collins said activists were hoping the human rights situation in West Papua would be raised, including: the ongoing concerns for arrested West Papuan activist Victor Yeimo; the security force operation taking place in the Maybrat Regency; and the death of Kristian Yandun from a beating in a police cell in Merauke.

Yeimo faces a number of charges, including treason with conspiracy. There is concern for his mental and physical health, which is deteriorating.

According to AWPA, after an attack on a military post in Kisor village in the Maybrat regency, security forces have retaliated, causing residents from five districts to flee their villages in fear of the Indonesian military.

AWPA is concerned that Merauke local police chief Untung Sangaji was trained by Australian Federal Police and trainers from the United States and Britain in anti-people smuggling and surveillance techniques at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

AWPA is calling on Payne and Dutton to urge Jakarta to release Yeimo and all political prisoners, and to raise the human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian security forces.

Susan Price reports for Green-Left.

Stronger Australian-Indonesian military ties
Indonesian troops could join regular training exercises on Australian soil, as part of a deepening of defence ties with Australia, reports The Guardian.

While Indonesia regularly joins naval exercises with Australia, and has participated in occasional joint military exercises on Australian land, the two countries have flagged plans to “step up” their joint training in the coming years, writes Daniel Hurst.

Australia’s defence minister, Peter Dutton, and foreign minister, Marise Payne, met their Indonesian counterparts in Jakarta yesterday, on the first leg of a four-country trip.

Indonesia’s Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto said he and Dutton had discussed “the possibility of Australia opening their training areas for the participation of Indonesian units to be training together with Australia”.

“I think this is a historical first,” Prabowo said.

Indonesian troops arrive at Sinak 100921
Indonesian security forces troops being flown in to Sinak, Puncak region, in the Papuan highlands for operations against independence fighters. Image: Screenshot APR
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