Invisible terror in West Papua

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) is calling for support for a congressional letter to Indonesian President Yudhoyono now circulating in the US House of Representatives. The letter asks Yudhoyono to end ongoing military operations in West Papua and open up the province to international observers.

West Papua, the half of New Guinea controlled by Indonesia, is the site of an ongoing genocide. Since Indonesia invaded in 1961, an estimated 100,000 people have been killed as a result of military operations. Last week over 10,000 Papuans held a peaceful demonstration in West Papua. The demonstrators demanded the Indonesian government end kidnappings, torture and assassinations. No major international newspapers reported on this demonstration because current Indonesian government policies tightly restrict the travel of foreign journalists to West Papua.

ETAN also notes that recently announced plans to establish a new Strategic Army Reserve (Kostrad) post in West Papua’s Mimika District—and to station up to 15,000 new military troops in West Papua—are further threatening to undermine peace initiatives. ETAN also expressed concern about ongoing Indonesian military (TNI) operations in Mimika District, reporting that a TNI patrol near the Coffee River (Kali Kopi) reportedly shot dead two Papuans in mid-March and that four other Papuans recently were killed in this area.

Despite efforts to impede access by international journalists and human rights and humanitarian workers, ETAN has become aware that operations in the Papua highlands have resulted in numerous human rights violations since August 2004. Churches, human rights organizations, and regional parliamentarians (DPRD Papua) are reporting that thousands of villagers have been forced to flee these military operations.

See also Papua Independent on the pro-autonomy protest.

See our last post on ethnic struggles in Indonesia.