Monthly Archives: August 2013

Broad Coalition Calls on Carr for Compassion, Concern and Consular assistance

Posted on August 30, 2013 by traverser11

Today as four West Papuan leaders are believed to remain in custody after attending a congregation praying for the safety of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, a letter has been sent to Senator Bob Carr demanding concern for the safety of Freedom Flotilla and its supporters both in Australia and West Papua, and urging him to make representation to his Indonesian counterparts to respond appropriately to the peaceful action.

Leaders of faith, politics, legal, human and refugee rights groups endorsing the letter sent by Community Radio 3CR, which also expressed concern for the safety of the West Papuan refugee community in Melbourne who are believed to have been targetted by Indonesian intelligence operatives for their or their families involvement in the West Papuan pro-democracy movement.


Letter to Senator Bob Carr
Posted on August 30, 2013 by traverser11

Community Radio 3CR have sent this letter to Senator Bob Carr at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, endorsed by a wide range of faith, political, refugee and human rights groups and community leaders.

Join the calls for safe passage for the Freedom Flotilla by adding you or your community’s name to the comments, and printing out and sending this letter to the Senator.

Re: Concern for the Safety of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua and West Papuans living in Australia

Dear Honourable Mr Carr,

We write to you out of deep concern for Australian residents and citizens associated with the Freedom Flotilla. While exercising their democratic rights to protest against human rights abuses in West Papua they are being threatened to have consular support withdrawn in the event Indonesian authorities detain them.

Threats of military violence against peaceful Australian citizens by Indonesian forces are entirely unacceptable and need to be strongly and immediately condemned by your office.

In the many months leading up to the Flotilla’s departure we became aware of numerous incidents of Indonesian security operatives spying on Australian citizens Those subjected to this surveillance and intimidation believe that they have been targeted due to their, or their families involvement in West Papuan pro-democracy movement.

There is a growing frustration in the Australian community that the Australian Government is not fulfilling its role as a good neighbour to Indonesia in its abandonment of the West Papuans to ongoing violence and climate of impunity amongst the military forces.

The recent United Nations Report on Human Rights regarding Indonesia had numerous condemnations of that country’s current human rights record in West Papua, and highlighted the fact that Papua is still closed off to UN and international scrutiny.

International human rights law affirms that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. Australia also affirms this as a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations, as well as other international covenants and declarations, which assert the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples to live in freedom, peace and security.

The Freedom Flotilla, as a peaceful journey re-uniting cultures and struggles of Australian and West Papuan indigenous peoples, is doing just what the Australian Government has been failing to do in relation to West Papua: peacefully pursuing self determination. On the Australia Security Council website it states, “Australia has much to contribute to the Security Council. We bring creativity, energy and a practical problem-solving ethos”. Now is the time for such a contribution. We remember Timor-Leste and successive Australian governments’ complicity in that brutal occupation.

We the undersigned demand that the Australian government act to ensure that every Australian has the right to peacefully pursue democratic aspirations free from intimidation. We urge the Australian Government to make representations to Indonesia to not use violence against the Freedom Flotilla, and provide appropriate support of our citizens and indigenous people on the boats as human rights defenders of conscience.

Peter Woods, (Anglican Minister, Melbourne)

Father Bob Maguire (Bob Maguire Foundation)

Kon Karapanagiotidis (CEO Asylum Seeker Resource Centre)

Marian Prickett (Manager 3CR Community Radio)

Senator John Madigan (DLP Senator for Victoria)

Anthony Craig (DLP Federal Executive Officer Spokesperson West Papua)

Len Cooper (National President CWU)

Kevin Bracken, Victorian Branch Secretary (MUA)

Wendy Bacon Journalist and Researcher

Anthony Kelly CEO (Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre)

IMARA Youth Advocacy

Ramesh Fernandez (CEO RISE Refugees)

Gerry Georgatos WA Senate Candidate (WikiLeaks)

Catherine Delahunty MP (NZ Greens)

Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) Melbourne

Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) Sydney

Dr Joseph Toscano (Victorian Senate Candidate)

Robbie Thorpe (Treaty Republic)

West Papuans arrested at prayer session for Freedom Flotilla

The Guardian: West Papuans arrested at prayer session for Freedom Flotilla
30 August 2013 Marni Cordell

Four West Papuan community leaders who attended a church meeting to pray for activists aboard the West Papua Freedom Flotilla are to be charged with treason and could be given long jail terms, it emerged on Friday.

The flotilla is sailing from Australia to draw attention to human rights abuses under Indonesian rule and plans to land in the coming weeks in the West Papuan town of Merauke.

West Papuans Apolos Sewa, 53, Amandus Mirino, 56, Samuel Klasjok, 60, and Yohanes Goram, 53, were detained and interrogated for 24 hours in the Sorong police station before being released at 10pm on Thursday night.

“On Wednesday we had a mass prayer session to welcome the Freedom Flotilla from Australia,” Goram told Guardian Australia on the phone from Sorong in West Papua’s west. “The police arrived and arrested us at about 6pm.”

Goram said the group had been questioned about their activities and asked whether they wanted independence from Indonesia.

“We said, ‘yes, we do.’ We told them, ‘We will struggle for independence from Indonesia because we are different from you, and because of the history between our people. More than 200,000 of our people have been killed by your military in the last 50 years, and ours are the poorest provinces in Indonesia.’ ”

The four were told by police that they would be charged with treason but were released on condition that they report to Sorong police station twice a week.

The charge carries a long jail term in Indonesia.

Groups Condemn Sale of Deadly Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

Groups Condemn Sale of Deadly Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

August 26, 2013 – The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today condemned the U.S. government’s decision to approve the sale of deadly Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia. The sale demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.

The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.

The sale, announced during the visit of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Jakarta, ignores the appalling record of human rights violations by the Indonesian military (TNI), which will operate this deadly weapons system.

The helicopters are offensive weapons often used in counter-insurgency campaigns.

The TNI continues to conduct military campaigns in West Papua. The military’s “sweeps” and other military operations purportedly target the few remaining, lightly-armed pro-independence guerrillas. In reality, the operations are aimed at repressing and intimidating Papuans. The sweep operations, involve assaults on remote villages in West Papua, destroying civilian homes, churches and public buildings and forcing civilians from their homes. These attacks drive civilians into surrounding mountains and jungles where many have died due to a lack of food, shelter or medical assistance.

The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.

The statement by Indonesia’s Minister of Defense that the sale does not include any conditions on the use of these weapons is especially concerning. The TNI use of these weapons platforms will be largely unconstrained. TNI personnel are not accountable to the civilian judicial system nor is the TNI as an institution subordinated to civilian government policy or operational control. For decades, the TNI has drawn funding from a vast network of legal and illegal businesses enabling it to evade even civilian government budgetary controls. Legislation to restrain the TNI has been weak or only partially implemented.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler


On Monday August 26, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that the U.S. had closed a deal for Indonesia to buy eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for a half a billion dollars. The U.S. did not attach conditions restricting their use.

The sale represents the latest step in the Pentagon’s increased engagement with the TNI. In 1999, restrictions on U.S. engagement with the Indonesia military were tightened as the TNI and its militia allies were destroying East Timor (now Timor-Leste) following the UN-conducted referendum on independence. Through the 2000s, restrictions on engagement with the Indonesian military were gradually lifted, even though it remained unaccountable for its past crimes in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago and rights violations continue in West Papua and elsewhere.

Last year, ETAN and WPAT coordinated a letter signed by more than 90 organizations urging the U.S. not to sell the deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians.”


Sorong Police arrest Papuan customary leaders at Freedom Flotilla ceremony
West Papua Media    August 29, 2013

Indonesian police in Sorong, West Papua, yesterday arrested four leading Papuan customary leaders for organising a welcome celebration and prayer for the safe arrival of the Aboriginal-led Freedom Flotilla, currently sailing from Australia.

2000 people gathered in Sorong for prayers for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

2000 people gathered in Sorong for prayers for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla. *note – men in blue berets are from Petapa, West Papua’s community security / police force guarding West Papuan civilians against Indonesian police violence. (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

The four were arrested after over 200 armed police surrounded a peaceful prayer gathering at Marantha Church in central Sorong yesterday afternoon, after thousands of local people joined with religious and adat (customary) leaders, and leaders of the self-declared National Federated Republic of West Papua (NFRPB) alternative government, to express their solidarity with the aims of the Freedom Flotilla. The Freedom Flotilla is a journey being conducted with Aboriginal and West Papuan elders and Australian activists to highlight internationally the human rights situation in West Papua and is currently enroute sailing from Australia to West Papua.

Internationally renowned environmental defender, researcher and customary leader, NFRPB Sorong secretary Yohanis Goram, was arrested together with Apolos Sewa (Vice chair of Dewan Adat Papua, Greater Sorong), Amandus Mirino (NFRPB State Secretariat senior worker), and Samuel Klasjok (NFRPB’s alternative Chief of Police (Security) for region 3, Doberay). Sorong Police Chief Harry Goldenhad met with the organisers of the gathering, and initially “approved the activities with the proviso that they did not disturb the peace, and maintained security,” according to witnesses statements provided by established credible sources to West Papua Media.
sorong freedom flotilla congregation police

Over 2000 people had gathered for the solidarity event that spilled outside the large church compound.

About 45 minutes after the prayer meeting had finished, as participants were preparing for a press conference with local media including such as Radar Sorong, West Papua Post, and Fajar Papua, Police Chief Goldenhad took ten heavily armed officers into the church and arrested the four activists.

According to local sources who spoke with police and activists, Based on information collected on site, the arrests were made in connection with the unfurling of the Morning Star, Aboriginal, and Torres Straits flags inside the church.

Apolos Sewa in the Police interrogation room (Photo: West Papua Media)

Apolos Sewa in Police interrogation room (Photo: West Papua Media)

The four activists are still being held at Sorong Police headquarters according to local sources, and their condition is unknown. However grave fears are held for their safety, as these are the first West Papuans to be arrested over a connection to the Freedom Flotilla, which has attracted significant international media interest, and ignited major controversy and comment from Indonesian and Australian government ministers.

International human rights organisations have reacted quickly to the arrests, with Amnesty International (AI) in London expressing concern about the arrests of the four Papuan political activists. AI’s Indonesia and Timor-Leste Campaigner, Josef Benedict said that AI “believes they have been arrested and detained solely for their peaceful political activism and call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

Activists raise the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag during the ceremony, prompting the arrests of the organisers under makar (treason) provisions Photo: West Papua Media sources)

Activists raise the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag together with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands flags, during the Flotilla ceremony, prompting the arrests of the organisers under makar (treason) provisions Photo: West Papua Media sources)

“Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to respect the rights of Papuans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which are guaranteed in Article 19 and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. Our organisation is concerned that the Indonesian government has consistently failed to make a distinction between violent armed groups and peaceful activists, and between peaceful expression of opinion and acts of physical violence, ” Benedict told West Papua Media by email.

Activists on board the Freedom Flotilla have reacted with dismay at the news of their supporters being targeted inside West Papua, but say this highlights the daily denial of Freedom of Expression for Papuan people, that originally motivated their plans for direct action.
sorong freedom flotilla congregation 2

Ronny Kareni, the spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla said “It is shocking and yet not surprising, but completely unacceptable in this day and age that peaceful demonstrations of basic freedom of expression is censored in such an extreme way. We demand the immediate release of the 4 prisoners in Sorong.”

Kareni explained, “The asorong freedom flotilla congregation 1rrests yesterday of the four Papuan leaders are a reflection of the reality that there is no space for democracy in Papua and West Papua Province under the Indonesian occupation, and yet foreign governments are complicit to these ongoing abuses. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is aiming to highlight this entrenched long-term brutality that is demonstrated by these arrests.

Arabunna elder, Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, the elder who inspired the journey, said in a statement to West Papua Media, “Indonesian government – you must immediately release those 4 prisoners and not to harm them in any way. They need to be released and not to be harmed because they have not committed a crime. We felt very sad when we seen it in the news today. We are waiting for the other mob to turn up here on Horne Island so we can work out how to respond a bit more but for now we need to ask all Australians to take a firm position on this issue, to be strong for Human Rights in West Papua. They are hurting them everyday, for years and regardless of the Freedom Flotilla this is happening, but we having a go, tryin’ to get the World to see, to look and listen and take a stand for these people. The Papuans have had it rough for too long with Indonesia there and this can’t keep going on. The prisoners must be released immediately”.
Izzy Brown, one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla said: “We are dismayed to hear that the peaceful act of prayer has resulted in such extreme actions by the police and military in West Papua, highlighting once more the lack of basic human rights and freedoms that we in Australia take for granted every day. We need immediate international pressure to be placed on the Indonesian government to ensure that no harm comes to these good people who have simply undertaken to express themselves in a democratic way.:

Kareni sums up the feeling of Flotilla members: “This is the time Australia, to stand up for people who are being militarily controlled and attacked for simply trying to have a voice.”