In solidarity with the protest in the UK with TAPOL and Amnesty International, The Melbourne West Papuan Community and supporters will hold a demonstration about the ongoing detention of over 70 political prisoners in West Papua and to call for their immediate and unconditional release.
5pm Wednesday 2nd April, State Library of Victoria, Swanston St Melbourne
We will stage a visual protest, where we are asking demonstrators to ‘stand-in’ for political prisoners.
This will create the main narrative for the demonstration – to have the total number of political prisoners in Papua be immediately visualised. 74 prisoners represented by 74 demonstrators.
COME A BIT EARLER IF YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THE VISUAL REPRESENTATION.
Cage and name tags provided…
We call on advocacy groups around the world to act in solidarity with Papuan political prisoners. Join us in our call to the Indonesian government to respect freedom of expression in West Papua and to unconditionally and immediately release all Papuan political prisoners.
According to data from Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests more than doubled in 2013 as compared with the previous year, and reports of torture and ill-treatment of political detainees have also increased. This points to a significant deterioration in the environment for freedom of expression in West Papua. Indigenous Papuans continue to be arrested for peaceful activities such as raising the Papuan Morning Star flag or attending demonstrations and public events that express dissent. Often they are charged with treason or incitement which can carry lengthy prison sentences. A new pattern is now emerging of charging peaceful activists with criminal violence, backed by fabricated evidence and unreliable testimony. While many political prisoners are in jail as a result of their peaceful political activities, others are targeted arbitrarily.
Journalists and lawyers face coercion, intimidation and violence from security forces who enjoy wide impunity. West Papua still remains largely closed to foreign journalists, NGOs and international organisations, making it difficult to accurately report on violations as they take place.
The people of West Papua have long been betrayed by western politicians who claim that they support the principles of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.
Former US President John Kennedy interfered in and stopped the decolonisation process that was being undertaken by the Dutch Government in the early 1960s that would have seen the outcome of an independent West Papua .
He had reports from US geologists about the mineral wealth in West Papua. Much of this wealth is now controlled by the Rio Tinto (British) and Freeport-McMoRan (US) corporations that jointly own the Grassberg gold and copper mines and both have a history of working with fascist regimes to make their massive profits. Rio was very content to have Franco murder striking mineworkers at its Spanish mine in the 1930s. Their wages and conditions were appalling.
In West Papua, Freeport has used the Indonesian military (TNI) to provide security. There have been many protests about the behaviour of the TNI and this should not be at all surprising to those who have followed the history of the barbaric behaviour of the TNI in East Timor, Acheh, West Papua and Indonesia itself.
This behaviour has included rape, torture, dragging embryos out of the wombs of pregnant women, injections of sulphuric acid, evisceration and mass murder. These crimes have gone unpunished because it suits the US and its allies to maintain the status quo. However, leaders who do nothing to bring such criminals to face justice show that they have no commitment to human rights, true justice, compassion, democracy or the rule of law.
Not one western leader has spoken out about the fact that in the coming 2014 presidential elections in Indonesia that two former Indonesian generals and war criminals, Prabowo and Wiranto, are candidates. These two men should be facing an international tribunal to seek justice for their victims and the friends and families of their victims rather than being allowed to stand in the presidential elections.
The Indonesian lobby in Australia would have us believe that since the downfall of the Indonesian dictator, General Suharto, that Indonesia is now a democracy. They know this is not true because of the sickening human rights abuses that are still being conducted in West Papua. Tragically, the Indonesian leadership, which is an improvement on the Suharto years, still has done nothing to control the barbaric crimes being committed by the TNI in West Papua. We must remember that Indonesia is being led by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyano, a former general, who is believed to have committed crimes against humanity in East Timor. It is also well known that he has done very little to control the TNI or to bring its worst criminals to justice.
If Indonesia is so democratic, why do its leaders not allow the West Papuans to have a UN administered referendum to determine their wishes about their own political future? Indonesian leaders won’t do this because they don’t want a repeat of the 1999 referendum in East Timor when the people overwhelmingly voted to be independent.
If we really want peace, social justice, the rule of fair laws and respect for human rights in our region, action has to be taken to:
* bring TNI criminals to justice
* require the TN Ito be withdrawn from West Papua and release all political prisoners
* allow the the West Papuans to determine their own future through a UN administered referendum
* all military aid to and cooperation with the TNI must cease until it withdraws from West Papua,
gives compensation to all its victims and expels all officers who have committed war crimes
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