Heavy Hand Of US Trained Indonesian Forces On Peaceful West Papua Demonstrators

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On May 1st, peaceful demonstrators across West Papua were assaulted by Indonesian government security forces. The U.S. provides security assistance, including training, to Indonesia, and two local groups have urged the U.S. government to condemn what they call “the unwarranted assault.”

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) complained about egregious human rights violations, asking for credible prosecution and sentencing of the perpetrators of these crimes by Indonesia’s military, police, and what they called “anti-terror” forces.

According to reports, the Papuan protests commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UN 1963 handover of West Papua to Indonesia were non-violent. Protestors were on the receiving end of “security force brutality.”

Two West Papuans Killed

Two West Papuans were killed and an unknown number were wounded and detained.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, complained to the Indonesian government in Jakarta, about “the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua.”

Ms. Pilay urged the Indonesian Government to allow peaceful protest in West Papua, and asked the government to call to account those involved in abuses.

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network and West Papua Advocacy Team jointly issued a press release noting “the close relations and expanding security relationship between Washington and Jakarta.” and they called 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.”

This is not the first time Indonesia has acted in this way, and in 2012, the Indonesian Government agreed to allow visits by UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs, but they have not yet facilitated the visits, because of restrictions on visiting political prisoners.

A planned visit to Indonesia by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, was postponed in January this year, due to the restrictions. At that time, ETAN issued a press release about the 100 political prisoners held by Indonesia in Jayapura and Ambon, that the Special Rapporteur was not allowed to visit.

Congressional Investigation Requested

ETAN, a U.S. based advocacy group, wants U.S. Congressional committees and subcommittees to recommend curtailing or suspending U.S. assistance to Indonesia.

As President Obama’s interest in Asia grows, security ties between the U.S. and Indonesia are expanding, but ETAN and WPAT say this may be a violation of the U.S. Leahy law. They say they would like to see the U.S. Congress initiate committee scrutiny into the impact of the expanding security ties. The groups say hearings are urgent, because of continuing human rights violations by Indonesian military and security forces that target Papuans seeking to exercise rights guaranteed by international treaties and covenants.

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

Australia has long-standing ties with Indonesia, but last year, the live animal export trade to Indonesia was shut down, due to evidence of extensive animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs.

Australia has provided Indonesia with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. Australia also relies on Indonesia to stop or slow down the flow of illegal immigration via boats, but they don’t appear to be trying very hard.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.