Letter to NZ government
30 November 2003.
Hon Phil Goff,
Rt Hon Helen Clark,
Dear Phil Goff and Helen Clark,
This letter is written out of deep concern for the people of West Papua on the occasion of the eve of the 42nd West Papua Independence Day: 1 December 2003.
As you know all independence commemorations have been banned by the Indonesian authorities, but already 50 people have been arrested on November 27 for raising the 'Bintang 14' West Melanesian flag. Last year some 1,500 people defied the ban to mark the anniversary with a ceremony at the grave of Theys Eluay
Tension is also running high on account of a significant recent military build up - an additional 2,600 troops have been deployed. On November 5 there was a shocking episode of unprovoked execution style killing in the Baliem Valley area. Ten West Papuans, including respected Free West Papua Movement leader, Yustinus Murib, were shot in a military pre-dawn raid and their bodies later put on public display. Mr Murib had been recorded on film just days earlier appealing for an opportunity to take part in peaceful dialogue.
The preliminary findings of an Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham ) report about West Papua have been released recently. Komnas Ham concludes that the military (TNI) committed gross right abuses in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena regency in 2003. According to the Head of Komnas HAM's Papua investigation team, Sa'afroudin Bahar, TNI personnel tortured 48 people, killed seven, and forcibly evacuated some 7,000 residents in Wamena between April and June 2003 during a raid by the Army. This raid occurred after alleged OPM members broke into a TNI arms warehouse in Wamena regency on April 2003 and escaped with 29 rifles.
The New Zealand government says it supports the implementation of 'special autonomy' for West Papua. However, this proposal lacked support from the West Papuan people, and now appears to be 'off the agenda' in favour of the highly contentious proposal to divide West Papua into three provinces.
We believe that New Zealand now has an urgent responsibility to monitor the human rights situation in West Papua, and to act with other nations to ensure that Indonesia knows it cannot continue to use violence to subdue legitimate protest. New Zealand should take up the plea that Yustinus Murib issued before his death when he called for a neutral nation to take part in a process of mediation between the independence movement and the government of Indonesia.
We also call on the New Zealand government to support the international campaign which is calling on the United Nations Secretary General to undertake a review of its actions at the time of the discredited "Act of Free Choice" in West Papua in 1969.
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