Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, NZ

Press Release – Indonesia Human Rights Committee

Reports from Indonesian controlled West Papua indicate that thousands of villagers in Paniai are undergoing a military siege involving horrendous destruction and violence. Homes have been torched and villages razed, while helicopters are said to be strafing …Indonesia Human Rights Committee,
Box 68-419,
Auckland

16 December, 2011

Reports from Indonesian controlled West Papua indicate that thousands of villagers in Paniai are undergoing a military siege involving horrendous destruction and violence. Homes have been torched and villages razed, while helicopters are said to be strafing the villages. There are reports of deaths, forcible evacuations and the displacement of thousands of people.

‘We cannot confirm all the reports because the area is closed to journalists and humanitarian workers. But there are compelling indications that the violence against the West Papuan people is escalating alarmingly.

New Zealand cannot stand by but should immediately call on Indonesia to end the violence and open up the area to journalists and the Red Cross.’

Letter faxed to Mr McCully is below.

Maire Leadbeater: 09-815-9000 or 0274-436-957

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Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Parliament Buildings,
Wellington

16 December, 2011

Dear Mr McCully,

We are receiving highly distressing accounts of indiscriminate and brutal military raids, in the Paniai District in the Highlands of West Papua.

We believe the information already received makes a compelling case for international intervention to stop the violence. At the very least New Zealand should now insist that the area be opened up and journalists, the Red Cross and other humanitarian workers given free access, so that the information can be verified and appropriate help provided to the victims.

Detailed reports from many sources suggest that Indonesian army battalions, Indonesian Brimob paramilitary police and elite counter-terrorism troops from Detachment 88 are responsible for the razing of villages and forced evacuations.

This is apparently part of a military campaign against local members of the Free Papua National Liberation Army. We are advised that some 27 villages have been devastated , that homes schools and other buildings have been burnt and that an unknown number of people have been killed by live military fire. One report lists the names of 18 victims.

Civilian helicopter have been brought in to drop live grenades and chemical dispersal weapons onto several villages. The helicopters are also said to have strafed the villages with sniper and machine-gun fire. Thousands of civilian refugees have fled the area to other villages around Enaratoli, on the opposite side of Lake Paniai. There is said to be a police supervised secure ‘Care Centre’ in Enaratoli, which is overcrowded and lacking in basic requirements. Other refugees have fled into the forest or to live with other family members.

It is believed that the Indonesian military forces are now arresting and interrogating civilians including children.

We call on you to urgently take up these serious and credible allegations of gross human rights violations with the Indonesian authorities.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater
For the Indonesia Human Rights Committee

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ENDS

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