Tuesday, March 2, 2010

West Papua Advocacy Team writes Obama

WPAT Letter to President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia

The West Papua Advocacy Team welcomes your upcoming visit to Indonesia as an opportunity to deepen U.S.-Indonesian ties and to encourage further democratization of Indonesia. Indonesia's democratic progress in the decade since the overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship has been impressive and has facilitated the expansion of U.S. cooperation with this important nation. Critical to Indonesia's democratization is the expansion of respect for human rights. Respect for human rights and the process of democratization generally continue to face threats from the Indonesian military which continues to evade full civilian control and remains largely unaccountable before Indonesia's flawed judicial system. It is imperative that the United States employ its not inconsiderable influence to work for the full subordination of the Indonesian military to civilian control and accountability before the law.

Nowhere in the Indonesian archipelago is military insubordination, corruption and abusive behavior more on display than in West Papua, where the military continues to operate in a manner that reflects the rules and practices fostered under the Suharto dictatorship.

Your visit affords an opportunity to press for genuine reforms and further democratization in Indonesia and specifically in West Papua where human rights abuse, injustice and security force corruption is endemic. Special Autonomy has not resolved the issues and is no final solution. Papuan human rights activists remain subject to intimidation, arrest and even death.

In your meetings with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono we urge you to pursue real reforms that reflect the agenda of issues raised by human rights advocates in West Papua. These include:
  • an end to military human rights violations, especially including an end to military "sweeping operations" by Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) and others which regularly displace thousands of Papuans;
  • replacing the culture of impunity with genuine accountability of military and police personnel before the courts for past and ongoing human rights crimes and corruption;
  • an end to resort to force by military and police to address peaceful protest by Papuans to include their employment of flags and banners;
  • release of Papuan political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to include all those who have been detained for such peaceful protest
  • cessation of the practice of conflating political protest with "separatist" activity, a practice which enables security forces and Indonesian courts to address such peaceful protest as "terrorist" activity under the Indonesian governments functional definition of terrorism;
  • demilitarization of West Papua and an end to military protection of and operation of business operations, many of which have had a devastating impact on Papuan natural resources;
  • an end to restrictions on access to and travel within West Papua now imposed on international journalists, researchers, humanitarian workers and diplomats and in that regard to permit the return of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to its offices in West Papua.
We also urge that you encourage the Indonesian President and government to respond positively to long-standing calls by the Papuan civil society and Papuan officials for

  • a senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan civil society, building on the success of the earlier dialogue in Aceh and responding to calls from Papuans and also from prominent voices within Indonesian civil society;
  • steps to address persistent Papuan concerns including policies such as "transmigration" and "special autonomy" which marginalize Papuans in their own land;
  • the creation of a demilitarized "zone of peace" in West Papua.
The United States played a central role in the process that saw West Papua annexed by Indonesia in the 1960s, a process that transparently failed to afford Papuans an opportunity to exercise genuine self determination. The period since then has seen continuing, extensive human rights problems. Democratization in Indonesia since 1998, and now your visit to that country, provide an opportunity for United States involvement in support of civil society efforts to solve some of the subsequent human rights problems.


West Papua Advocacy Team

Also in the March 2010 issue of the West Papua Report:

  • Papuans Demonstrate to Peacefully Voice Demands
  • Indonesian State Pursues "Land Grab" Targeting Papuans in Merauke Area
  • Indonesian Government Fails to Provide Urgent Health Care to Incarcerated Prisoner of Conscience
  • Freeport Operating Illegally According to Indonesian Minister
  • Papuans Reject Plans for Expansion of "Transmigration"

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