Friday, May 3, 2013

Groups Call on U.S. to Condemn Indonesian Attacks on Peaceful Demonstrations in West Papua

Contact: Ed McWilliams, West Papua Advocacy Team, +1-575-648-2078,
John M. Miller, National Coordinator, ETAN, +1-917-690-4391,

May 3, 2013 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) strongly urge the U.S. government to condemn the unwarranted assault by Indonesian government security forces on peaceful May 1 demonstrations in West Papua. They called for U.S. security assistance to be curtailed, absent an end to such egregious human rights violations and credible prosecution and sentencing of the perpetrators of these crimes among Indonesia's military, police, and "anti-terror" forces.
Widespread nonviolent Papuan protests commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations 1963 handover of West Papua to Indonesian control were met with security force brutality. At least two West Papuans were killed; many more were wounded and/or detained.

On May 2, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay "expressed serious concerns over the crackdown on mass demonstrations across Papua." Her statement said "These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua. I urge the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses.

Demo in Jayapura, May 1 (photo: Dawn Treader via )
ETAN and WPAT, noting the close relations and expanding security relationship between Washington and Jakarta, call on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to press the Indonesian government to end its suppression of freedom of expression in West Papua and to hold those responsible for violence against civilian demonstrators accountable before civilian courts. 

The U.S. should also urge Indonesia to allow visits by UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs, as the Indonesian Government agreed to do in late 2012, and more generally end restrictions on travel there by international observers. The planned visit by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, remains stalled over Indonesian government restrictions that would prevent him from visiting political prisoners in West Papua and elsewhere.

ETAN and WPAT also urge the appropriate committees and subcommittees of the U.S. Congress to hold hearings examining the impact of expanding security ties between the U.S. and Indonesia and possible violations of the Leahy law. This is especially urgent given the continuing and even worsening violations of human rights by the Indonesian military and other security forces targeting Papuans seeking to exercise rights guaranteed them by international treaties and covenants. Legislation to curtail or fully suspend this assistance should be on the agenda for such hearings.

The latest attacks are the latest human rights violations that have continued unabated since Indonesia took control of the territory 50 years. These crimes are part of a larger pattern of repression and impunity perpetrated by troops and police armed and trained by the U.S.

This statement is also supported by the West Papua Action Network.

ETAN was formed in 1991. The U.S.-based organization advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. ETAN on the web: Twitter: etan009. The West Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of academics, human rights defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat. Both organizations co-publish the monthly West Papua Report. 

see also

Police anti-demonstration apparatus in a show of force, Jayaura, May 1, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 2013 West Papua Report

Read the full issue here

This edition of the West Papua Report features a PERSPECTIVE by a longtime observer of West Papua. This is the second of a three-part series. This part focuses on the growing crisis in Papuan society posed by decades of neglect of essential services and a breakdown of governance. The author also explores the causes and consequences of fundamental demographic shifts in West Papua. In particular, he describes the destructive impact on West Papuan society arising from central government efforts to divide existing political structures into ever-smaller units and the accelerating marginalization of Papuans through the government-supported migration of non-Papuans into Papuan lands.

Activists associated with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) face continued persecution, as security forces threaten the organization and others who plan on May 1 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Indonesian annexation of West Papua. The West Papua Advocacy Team calls on the U.S. government to monitor security force activity in West Papua associated with the May 1 demonstrations. This edition's UPDATE section also welcomes the launch of the website Papuans Behind Bars, which will help human rights activists around the world monitor the plight of Papuan political prisoners. The UPDATE also notes the collapse of central government health care systems for Papuans, as well as the persecution of those who seek to reveal this crisis. In addition West Papuans continue their diplomacy aimed at membership in the Melanesia Spearhead Group. In the CHRONICLE section, the Report notes continuing media coverage of a vast military-run road development scheme in West Papua, a May 1 statement from imprisoned Papuan leader Edison 
Waromi, and a recent review of the plight of Papuan political prisoners.