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West Papua resistance losing fight for freedom 0 Comments

Monday, August 27, 2012 | Posted in ,

Resistance leaders in the restive Indonesian region of West Papua say they are losing their struggle for independence as authorities step up a decades-long campaign of abuse and intimidation.
After almost 50 years of Indonesian rule, the reins of control are being pulled tighter than ever, with human rights groups saying the frequency and ferocity of abuse is on the rise.
There are even claims that an elite counter-terrorism unit, one that has been funded and trained by Australia, is operating in West Papua where it is accused of targeting and killing independence leaders.
The ABC's Hayden Cooper went undercover in the secretive Indonesian provinces, where he discovered a police state operating with impunity.
The sheer scale of the police and military presence is obvious from the moment of arrival in the ruggedly beautiful region - a treasure trove of mineral wealth and a place where two vibrant cultures meet and struggle for the right to rule.
Police and military outposts dotting roads at almost every kilometre are augmented by an unmarked, plain-clothed brigade of motorbikes - many of them allegedly police - and a coordinated web of police informants.
Mostly Indonesians, the informants could be shop owners, taxi drivers, hotel workers who watch the independence groups and pass information back up the chain to police for money.
Andreas Harsono, from Human Rights Watch, says West Papuans live in a constant state of fear.
"The Papuan people live in fear, in a constant fear, because of how many human rights abuses they suffered over the past five decades," he said.
And the heavy security presence keeps the closest eye on the independence leaders, including Victor Yeimo, the chairman of the West Papua national committee (KNBP).
Speaking from a safe-house in the capital, Mr Yeimo told 7.30 his organisation was peaceful and simply pushing for a referendum on Papuan sovereignty.
"No we don't use violence. We believe that in the open era, we believe one of the best methods we have to use is civil power now," he said.
"I don't think about how Indonesian they will attack me or target me, I don't feel about that - I don't think about it. What I'm thinking is how I can bring my people to freedom."

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