Defence treaty with Indonesia premature
3 April 2005
John Howard must raise the issue of human rights abuses with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, during his visit to Australia.
That’s according to the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), which says Indonesian forces are carrying out a brutal campaign of repression against independence activists, just north of Australia.
"Unfortunately murder and torture are almost routine in West Papua, which has been fighting against Indonesian rule since the 60s", said Association secretary, Joe Collins.
Mr Collins points to a recent 'SBS Dateline' program in which a representative from the Baptist Church in West Papua, said that a recent military operation in the West Papuan highlands had destroyed a large number of villages and caused over 6,000 people to flee to the bush for safety.
A recent report also points to the military’s involvement in a massive illegal logging operation, the smuggling of logs from West Papua to China.
"Despite some democratic reforms in Indonesia, outrageous atrocities against Papuan citizens continue unabated. Mr Howard must raise this issue directly with the Indonesian President".
The AWPA also believes that until Jakarta can control its military in West Papua, any defence treaty with Indonesia is premature, including given any aid or training to the Indonesian military.
The Australian Government is concerned about stability in the regions to our north. However, it is exactly these actions by the Indonesia military, which will increase tension and lead to the very instability the government is trying to avoid.
"If Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is to flourish these fundamental issues must be discussed. If we turn the other way, the issue will eventually explode like East Timor".
"I urge Mr Howard and Kim Beazley to find the courage to stand up for these forgotten people, who are our close neighbors" Joe Collins said.