30 August 2012

Rare look inside West Papua screens on Australian television

The ABC's premier news and current affairs program, 7:30, has aired two reports by Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main which detail recent human rights abuses occurring in West Papua and raise significant concern's about Australia's role in training and resourcing the Indonesian security unit accused of being responsible for a recent spate of extrajudicial killings and torture.

In 'Rare look inside West Papua independence movement' which screened in Australia on 27 August 2012, Cooper and Main travel undercover to West Papua - where an effective ban on foreign journalists prevents much news reaching Australia and other countries - to meet Papua's political activists and hear accusations of killings and beatings by Indonesian government security forces.

In 'Australia faces link to West Papua torture' which screened the following night, Cooper and Main examine the mounting evidence which suggests the group, known as 'Detachment 88', acts as a death squad responsible for the killing of political activists such as Mako Tabuni.

Australia's foreign minister, Bob Carr, responded to the report in an interview on 7:30 with Leigh Sales in which he called on Indonesia to conduct an investigation into Mr Tabuni's death and said that he would continue to raise Australia's concerns about human rights in Papua with Indonesian officials.

Australian Greens Senator, Richard Di Natale, who has been pushing for greater transparency and human rights checks in Australia's programs of support for Detachment 88, also appeared on the program arguing Australia should withdraw its support of the operations.

"We don't want Australians to be fuelling the human rights abuses that are going on in our region - we've got a situation at the moment where journalists aren't even given access to West Papua, where human rights monitors aren't being given access to the region, we've got to do something about that," he said.