Indonesia’s deadly crackdown on Papua indigenous congress sparks outrage

Radio Australia has released video coverage of an Oct. 19 attack by Indonesian security forces on an unarmed political meeting of indigenous leaders in West Papua after they issued a declaration of independence. Six people were killed and many more were injured after army troops and police Mobile Brigades broke up the meeting of the Third Papuan People’s Congress in the provincial capital Jayapura. Police said their troops fired “warning shots” to disperse the crowd of thousands, and said the Congress “violated the permit” by issuing the declaration. But Congress leaders charge the deadly repression was a premeditated response to the declaration of independence and call for a West Papua government to be elected. Some 300 were arrested, and six have been charged with treason.

The Indonesian army’s elite Densus 88 force, which is trained by the US and Australia, apparently took part in the repression. Australia’s Green Party and human rights campaigners are calling for Canberra to cut assistance to the elite force. (Radio Australia, Oct. 28; Radio Australia’s Lateline, Oct. 27; CNN, ETAN, Oct. 20)

Independence leaders say West Papua was illegally annexed to Indonesia upon independence from The Netherlands in 1949. The island of Papua is divided between Indonesian West Papua and independent Papua New Guinea.

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