West Papua: Thousands rally for independence despite repression

West Papua: Thousands rally for independence despite repression

Abridged from http://www.asia-pacific-action.org/.

AFP and other news agencies reported that thousands of people rallied across West Papua on April 3, 2009 to call for independence from Indonesia and a boycott of the April 9 elections amid a police crackdown on dissent.

At least four people were wounded when police opened fire on a subsequent demonstration on April 6 according to a local church activist, Yones Douw, quoted by the Cathnews.com the following day.

Douw said: “Our demand is that Papuans don’t take part in the election because we are not part of Indonesia.”

Douw said he saw protesters falling wounded when police fired during a clash with around 200 indigenous Papuans rallying in the streets of Nabire town. He said four protesters were in critical condition in hospital after being hit with live rounds. Three others were hit with rubber bullets.

On April 3, police raided the offices of the Papuan Customary Council, the top representative body for indigenous Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura, arresting 15 activists and damaging equipment, council secretary general Leonard Imbiri said. “They trashed the offices, destroyed two computers and they burnt down a traditional hut behind the building.”
Douw said one person was shot and injured by police in the raid.
The Australia West Papua Association called on the Australian government to send observers to investigate the human rights situation in West Papua.

AWPA spokesperson Joe Collins said, “the Australian government says it continues to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian government. However, from recent events just raising the issue is not enough.

“The Australian government should immediately send observers from the Australian embassy in Jakarta to report to the government on the current situation in the territory. This visit should be followed by a cross-party delegation to investigate the human rights situation.”