News

Report claims secret genocide in Indonesia



19 August 2005

Citing eyewitnesses to military campaigns which have destroyed whole villages in the remote highlands region, the report details military involvement in acts of arson and destruction of property, rape, torture and arbitrary disappearances. A campaign of ethnic cleansing has left thousands of internally displaced civilians and Papuans face becoming a minority in their own land.

More than 100,000 Papuans are estimated to have died since Indonesia took control of West Papua from the Dutch Government in 1963.

Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian Security Apparatus is based on a two-year study by a team of researchers at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Papuan church and human rights investigators. Researcher John Wing, coordinator of the West Papua Project at CPACS, traveled to West Papua several times to document the human rights abuses.

The report concludes that Indonesia's security forces act with total impunity and are the main source of instability in the territory. It claims the survival of the indigenous people of West Papua is under serious threat and calls on Indonesia to cancel the current massive military (TNI) build up in Papua which is aimed at confronting calls for independence from Jakarta.

The report details the recent increase in large scale military campaigns which are decimating highland tribal communities; the explosion of HIV/AIDS and Papua's chronic underdevelopment.

But what will be of enormous concern to neighbouring countries are revelations of the introduction of illegal arms, clandestine militia training and religiously-based terrorist recruitment. Testimonies by infiltrators claim some groups have links to radical Islamic organisations.

Prof. Stuart Rees, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, said the human rights abuses documented in the report should be brought to the world's attention.

"The Australian Government's mantra has been that we do not wish to offend the Indonesians. That stand now sounds like a determination to be blind to human rights abuses," Prof. Rees said.

"International community interest and intervention in Aceh appears to have attained desirable results so why not a responsible expose of events in West Papua?

"Australia is a signatory to the convention on genocide so we have a legal obligation as well as a moral obligation to tell a wide public what is going on," Prof. Rees said.

The United Nations is also coming under increasing pressure to intervene in
the Papuan conflict and to rectify the historical injustice of a 1969 act
which rubber stamped Indonesia's annexation of West Papua, then known as
Dutch New Guinea. It is conceded that in excess of 100,000 Papuans have died
during the intervening Indonesian era.

The report's authors acknowledge the bravery of human rights and church
networks in Papua. The report is dedicated to John Rumbiak, Papua's leading
human rights campaigner, who suffered a serious stroke in February. He
remains in New York fearful of returning to Papua following a series of
death threats in 2003.


Media inquiries and more information:

Virginia Gawler, Media Office: + 61 2 9351 2261/ 0423 782 603

Prof. Stuart Rees, CPACS: + 61 2 9351 4763 / 9411 5139