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Papua: repression in Australia’s backyard 0 Comments

Thursday, August 30, 2012 | Posted in

Excessive force in breaking up protests and ill-treatment of detainees is fast becoming the bread and butter of repressive governments following what Time Magazine called the Year of the Protester.
Amnesty has been documenting abuses in Papua for years. Our latest report on Indonesia covered the violent dispersion of a crowd by authorities that left three dead and 90 injured.
The abuses perpetrated to our north have not been isolated incidents.
In January three soldiers were imprisoned for 'disobeying orders' after being filmed kicking and verbally abusing Papuans. This abuse was described as a ‘minor violation' by a senior Indonesian official.
In Maluku, a neighbouring province, allegations that Detachment 88 tortured and ill-treated 21 peaceful political activists during their arrest, detention and interrogation in August 2010 have gone uninvestigated.
The AFP was asked in the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in October 2010 (PDF) whether they were aware of the allegations surrounding the torture in Maluku. The answer was yes.
This question was asked in the context of the AFP's continuing support of Detachment 88 through the detachment's Jakarta branch.
Australia does not have standing to investigate these incidents; but our continuing relationship with Detachment 88 should morally compel the Australian Government to call for an investigation.
Particularly in light of the fresh claims of Detachment 88's involvement in Papua.
Undoubtedly this issue has been raised, but with continuing abuses in Papua the Australian Government clearly has more room for conservation with our neighbours on this issue.
"Australia does not have standing to investigate these incidents; but our continuing relationship with Detachment 88 should morally compel the Australian Government to call for an investigation."
Filep Karma is a prisoner of conscience sentenced to 15 years for raising the banned 'Morning Star' flag, a symbol of the independence movement. Filep has been denied from travelling to Jakarta for an operation since March 2012 despite a recommendation from doctors in Jayapura, Papua.
It is this sort of denial that can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under the Convention against Torture.
Johan Teterissa, a member of the 21 activists tortured by Detachment 88 is another prisoner of conscience serving 15 years. Upon histransfer to Batu prison Johan had his back whipped with electric cables causing him to bleed.
Johan did not receive any medical attention after his beating - let alone an investigation.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in February has stated that he wanted an end to repressive actions by the military and police in Papua.
The Jayapura Police have unfortunately failed to live up to President Yudhoyono's statement. In recent days they've denied medical care to Yusak Pakage, a coordinator of the local 'Street Parliament' movement.
7:30 Report has undoubtedly placed the issue on the agenda. But the follow up action is now on all Australian's to write and call for change if we are to keep Yusak Pakage safe and help end the repression in Papua.


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