Subject: WPAUK: Timor trials debacle raises fear of increased military oppression in West Papua

West Papua Association - UK press release:

Timor trials debacle raises fear of increased military oppression in West Papua

26 June 2003 - The disastrous failure of Indonesia's ad hoc human rights court for East Timor to provide justice for the victims of human rights atrocities in East Timor has heightened fears of increased military oppression in areas such as West Papua.

The international solidarity movement for West Papua, which met in Brussels on 7/8 June, has today written an open letter to members of the international community [see footnote] expressing concern about the likely impact of the proceedings on the unaccountable power of the Indonesian military, TNI.

The trials in the ad hoc court are due to end with the likely acquital of the highest-ranking defendant, Major General Adam Damiri, on 1 July.

The solidarity movement expresses the view that the trials 'have been a travesty of justice designed to protect senior military officers responsible for gross violations of human rights…'

It fears that 'the process has undermined efforts to end military impunity and improve respect for the rule of law throughout Indonesia' and that 'increased militarisation and violence in areas such as West Papua and Aceh will result from the legal system's failure to challenge the power of the military'.

The solidarity groups issue a warning that the TNI is continuing to engage in activities which undermine peace and stability in West Papua, including a widespread operation in the central highlands area around the town of Wamena, which has led to the killing of civilians, the destruction of homes, schools and crops and the forcible displacement of around 1,000 people.

The activities of the militant Muslim Laskar Jihad militia group and the local Satgas Merah Putih militia are a also severe threat to peace in the area, they say.

The solidarity groups add that the people of West Papua have a complete lack of faith in the administration of justice because of the failure of the authorities to conduct credible investigations and prosecutions in relation to numerous serious crimes, including the killing of Papuan leader Theys Eluay in November 2001.

In their letter, they call for an end to military operations in West Papua, renewed efforts to resolve the conflict by peaceful means in accordance with the call by local people for West Papua to be made a Land of Peace, the resolution of all outstanding serious crimes cases, and the implementation of the recommendations of a recent report on Indonesia by UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

ENDS

Footnote: The letter is being sent to the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU Presidency, the EU Commissioner for External Affairs, national governments and others. The full text is available at tapol.gn.apc.org/let030626.htm

Contact: Paul Barber on 01420 80153 or 0776 180 8095

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Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: plovers@gn.apc.org Internet: http://tapol.gn.apc.org Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, 1973-2003


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