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.
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: http://www.etan.org. 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. http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/
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2012 Recipient of the Order of Timor (Ordem Timor)
John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
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