Dear Editor,

Australia must refuse the request from Jakarta to pass on a message to the Solomon Islands that it should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Indonesia, including the issue of West Papua.

This is an outrageous request as it is the duty of all nations to raise concern about human rights abuses not only in West Papua but no matter where they are committed. The Solomon Islands and the other six Pacific leaders who raised concern about the human rights abuses in West Papua (at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September) are to be congratulated for their courageous stand on the issue of West Papua. It is a pity that Australia does not follow the Pacific leaders in also condemning the ongoing human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian Military.

West Papuan leader Benny Wenda said that on 27th October at least 9 West Papuan people were shot and 1 was killed as the Indonesian police opened fire in Manokwari. According to reports, West Papuan people took to the streets to protest the murder of a West Papuan youth Vigal Pauspaus (20) who was stabbed by an Indonesian migrant. In response, the Indonesian police opened fire on the crowd and killed West Papuan Independence activist Onesimus Rumayom (56). They also reportedly attacked and shot at least 8 other people including children.

It should also be remembered that Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryacudu said of the soldiers who killed Chief Theys Eluay (Chairperson of the Papuan Presidium Council) in November 2001, that ’I don’t know, people say they did wrong, they broke the law. What law? Okay, we are a state based on the rule of law, so they have been punished. But for me, they are heroes because the person they killed was a rebel leader” (he was chief of staff at the time).

Not only should Australia refuse the request of the Indonesian defence minister but should be supporting the Pacific leaders in calling on Jakarta to allow a PIF facing mission to West Papua.

Joe Collins


Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)