President Obama has cancelled his trip
to Indonesia, because of the budget crisis in the U.S. Our criticisms of U.S.
policy toward Indonesia remain; the policy must change.
West Papua Advocacy Team Open Letter to President Obama
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
October 3, 2013
Dear President Obama,
On the occasion of your visit to Indonesia for the 2013 Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation, we write to urge you to highlight the case of West Papua.
This year marks 50 years of Indonesian rule over West Papua, which had
previously been a Dutch colony slated for independence. Half a century of
Indonesian rule has seen West Papua subjected to crimes against humanity,
according to numerous credible human rights reports. Half a century of
colonization of one people by the armed forces of another has taken place. Half
a century of ongoing conflict has been the result. To resolve the conflict
peacefully, international mediation is needed. West Papua was delivered to
Indonesian rule as a result of American mediation, which confers upon the United
States a special responsibility to act to resolve the current conflict
Half a century of colonization of one people by the armed forces of another
has taken place. Half a century of ongoing conflict has been the result. To
resolve the conflict peacefully, international mediation is needed.
Papuans believe that they have been denied their inalienable right to
self-determination. Today, recognition of the Papuan right to self-determination
is growing globally. The Melanesian Spearhead Group has recognized it, and the
Prime Minister of Vanuatu is the most recent leader to call for UN intervention
in the form of a UN Special Representative to investigate human rights
violations in West Papua and its political status. In this context, he asks,
"how can we then ignore hundreds of thousands of West Papuans who have been
brutally beaten and murdered?"
Despite this, and despite moves towards greater democracy and respect for human
rights within Indonesia, the Indonesian security forces continue to routinely
violate human rights in West Papua. Indonesia is closing the territory to
outsiders and further militarizing West Papua. The ratio of security forces to
population in West Papua is now 97:1, compared to 296:1 in the rest of
Indonesia. The Indonesian government has indicated that it does not intend to
follow recommendations on West Papua made in the most recent Universal Periodic
Review of Indonesia at the UN Human Rights Committee.
The increasing militarization of West Papua indicates that there is no let-up in
sight to the half-century of widespread violations of basic human rights in West
Papua. If Indonesia is democratizing, the reverse is the case in West Papua. The
militarization of West Papua is being further enhanced by US security
cooperation policy with Jakarta. This may be an understandable policy in the
context of Indonesian politics and anti-terrorism policy, but its effect in West
Papua is to encourage the military apparatus of repression, and thus fuel an
ongoing conflict. The Indonesian army, 15 years after the end of military rule,
continues to resist efforts to depoliticize the security forces and demilitarize
politics. Impunity for security forces accused of human rights violations up to
and including crimes against humanity remains widespread.
The increasing militarization of West Papua indicates that there is no
let-up in sight to the half-century of widespread violations of basic human
rights in West Papua. If Indonesia is democratizing, the reverse is the case
in West Papua.
We therefore recommend that on your trip to Indonesia, you:
- Press for a dialogue between the Indonesian government and West Papuan
civil society, with international third-party mediation, along the lines of
the successful international mediation of the Aceh conflict in 2005.
Current policy is not advancing dialogue. Internationally-mediated dialogue
is a growing call from civil society voices in both West Papua and
- Halt military assistance to the Indonesian security forces. United
States cooperation with the most brutal elements of the security forces
encourages the climate of impunity, and United States
sale of Apache
helicopters increases the repressive capacity of the security forces in West
Papua. Cooperation with the
Kopassus Special Forces and
Detachment 88 of the
Indonesian National Police should be suspended pending an improvement of the
human rights situation in West Papua and the initiation of dialogue, and the
agreement to provide Apache helicopters should be cancelled. Non-military
ties should continue to expand but military cooperation be made conditional
on respect for human rights in West Papua, as it was with respect to the
Timor-Leste situation prior to Timor-Leste's independence.
- Press for open access to West Papua by international observers, NGOs and
others, so that the conflict will no longer be hidden.
- Support efforts from within Melanesia to address the root causes of the
conflict in West Papua, the denial of self-determination and the persistence
of repressive policies by the Indonesian security forces.
- Press President Yudhoyono to order a halt to security forces' violations
of the human rights of West Papuan civilians, and hold security personnel
accountable for their crimes by laying charges, where evidence merits, in
West Papua Advocacy Team
McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, email@example.com
ETAN Urges President Obama to Put Human Rights at
Center of U.S.-Indonesia Relations During Upcoming Visit to Indonesia