Friday 15 September 2006

Concerns for West Papua over Proposed Treaty with Indonesia

A new campaign urging the Prime Minister not to proceed with the proposed security treaty with Indonesia was launched in Canberra today.

Former West Papuan politicians, Willem Zonggonau and Clemens Runawery, and Greens leader Senator Bob Brown today launched a new online petition urging the Australian Government not to sign any new security agreement with Indonesia while human rights abuses in West Papua continue.

Willem and Clemens witnessed the sham referendum in West Papua in 1969. They were then arrested by Australian officials (under Indonesian pressure) when they tried to travel to the United Nations in New York that year. They are currently on a speaking tour in Australia about the plight of West Papua in general.

"While the Indonesian military continues its oppression in West Papua any new security or pact with Indonesia is a mistake," Mr Zonggonau said.

"The proposed treaty, with likely formal recognition of Indonesian occupation of West Papua, will strengthen the hand of the military in the province increasing the likelihood of further human rights abuses," Mr Zonggonau said.

"The on-going human rights violations in West Papua are a re-run of the decades of problems in Indonesian ruled East Timor," Mr Zonggonau said.

"The Australian Government should as a minium insist that foreign journalists and United Nations observers be given full access to West Papua as a pre-condition of the new security treaty," Mr Runawery said

"The Australian government should not repeat the mistake of the 1969 John Gorton Liberal Government when it was complicit in the sham 'referendum' in West Papua," Mr Runawery said.

"West Papuans leaders at home and abroad are eager to participate in their own destiny and should be consulted over agreements that effect them," Mr Runawery.

Both West Papuans said they knew first hand the brutality of Indonesian military.

"A security treaty with Indonesia that attempts to cement Indonesian authority over the West Papuan people will only lead to greater instability in the region.   A long term peaceful and stable relationship with Indonesia requires a fair settlement with the people of West Papua, not ongoing military repression," Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said today.

Further information: Ben Oquist 0419704095