Rt Hon. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare
28 January 2011
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), I am writing to you concerning the West Papuan people who have been apprehended during Operation Sunset Merona along the PNG/West Papuan border.
I would first like to thank the PNG people and the present and past PNG Governments for their support in allowing West Papuans fleeing persecution and fearful for their lives to reside in PNG.
I am sure you are aware of the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua and of the recent shocking video footage of West Papuans being tortured by Indonesian soldiers . The video showed Indonesian soldiers torturing two Papuans. The soldiers in the video threaten the two men with sharp weapons and press a burning bamboo stick against one of the mens genitals. The witnessing of the torture of the men prompted a wave of international criticism with human rights organisations around the world condemning the actions of the Indonesian military. The soldiers were put on trial not for torture but for disobeying orders and only received a few months for such outrageous acts. This was not an isolated incident and one can understand that fear West Papuans have of the Indonesian security forces.
For this reason we are concerned by a media report in which the Acting Deputy Police Commissioner of PNG said that " anyone found not be a citizen of PNG will be considered an OPM activist ". We are also concerned that the authorities have charged nine men for setting up training camps. We urge you not to return these men back to West Papua where their lives could be at risk from the Indonesian military. We understand that the reason for the operation was a concern for security along the border. However, we would like to bring to your attention to cables released by WikiLeaks in relation to West Papuan human rights and also to the PNG border.
-the cables revealed
that US diplomats blame the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses.
-that Indonesian military commanders have been accused of illegal logging operations and drug smuggling from West Papua into Papua New Guinea.
AWPA again thanks the People and Government of PNG for its humanitarian support for the West Papua people and urge your government not to return any West Papuans back to the Indonesian authorities where their lives would be at risk