AWPA protests over Canberra’s ‘lack of concern’ over West Papua crackdown

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The funeral of two-year-old Nopelinus Sondegau
The funeral of two-year-old Nopelinus Sondegau, allegedly killed by Indonesian security forces, according to Papuan reports. Image: AWPA

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

The Australia West Papua Association has protested over the “lack of any concern” by Canberra over worsening clashes in the Indonesian military crackdown on pro-independence groups in West Papua.

Joe Collins of AWPA said in a statement today that the harsh “behaviour” of the Indonesian forces would lead to the instability that the Australian government fears.

He said there was a risk that Indonesian soldiers might breach the Papua New Guinean border in pursuit of rebels.

Collins said there have been a number of clashes between the Indonesian forces and the pro-independence Papuan rebel force TPNPB in the town of Sugapa, Intan Jaya Regency.

Media reports have said that in one incident, on October 26, a two-year-old infant, Nopelinus Sondegau was killed and a six-year old, Yoakim Majau, was wounded by Indonesian forces although the police have denied this.

The TPNPB alleged the children were shot because the military “lost control” after one of their personal was shot by the TPNPB, said the statement.

According to Father Dominikus Hodo at the Catholic Diocese in Timika, large numbers of people had fled from the security forces with up to 2000 taking refuge in a church compound.

At one stage the pro-independence OPM took control of Bilogai Airport in Sugapa subdistrict, leading to the suspension of civil flights.

The commander of the Nemangkawi Law Enforcement Task Force said that a generator, house, kiosk, and two motor vehicles, including an ambulance had been set on fire.

Senior Commissioner Faizal Rahmadan said that they would station two platoons of personnel in Intan Jaya to reinforce security.

“It’s hard to understand the lack of any concern from Canberra to what is going on in West Papua,” Collins said in the statement.

“It’s in the interest of Canberra to have a stable region to our north, yet it’s the behaviour of the Indonesian security forces that will lead to the very instability Canberra fears.

“West Papuans have fled across the border into PNG and there is always the possibility that one day the Indonesian security forces could follow.

Collins said AWPA would write again to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressing concern about the crackdown.

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