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IFET Warns of West Papua-East Timor Parallels

13 June 2000


Media Statement

International Federation Warns of West Papua-East Timor Parallels in Letter to Indonesia's President

Warning of ominous parallels between the situation in West Papua and events last year in East Timor, Charles Scheiner, United Nations Representative of the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), urged Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid to "stop militia terror while it can
still be controlled" in West Papua.

The militias, Scheiner said in a letter sent to President Wahid on his visit today to the United Nations, "operate with the logistical and political support of the Indonesian military."

Writing on behalf of IFET's 39 organisations, Scheiner urged Wahid to "use every nonviolent means
at your disposal to assert authority over the military and police in Papua, and to terminate violations of human rights perpetrated with the cooperation or complicity of your government's armed forces."

The letter also urged Wahid to arrest militia leaders and remove them from the refugee camps in West Timor, and thereby allow the 100,000 East Timorese people there to freely choose their future homeland."

While taking no position on the West Papuan independence, the letter called the 1969 UN- supervised 'Act of Free Choice' "a blot on Indonesian and United Nations history, a fraudulent, unrepresentative charade which should be discarded in the new era of Indonesian democracy, along
with other totalitarian policies of the Suharto regime."

Indonesia annexed Dutch New Guinea (West Papua) as Irian Jaya in 1963. The UN recognised Indonesia's claim in 1969, after it and Jakarta administered the so-called Act of Free Choice in which about 1000 Indonesian-selected delegates -- out of a population of 800,000 Papuans -- agreed under pressure to become a province of Indonesia.

In the months leading up to last August 30 vote in East Timor, the International Federation for East
Timor sent 140 non-partisan observers to East Timor to observe the UN-administered consultation process. IFET was formed in 1991 to support the self-determination process for East Timor at the United Nations. It now has 39 member groups from 23 countries.

Contact: Charles Scheiner, IFET.

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