ETAN Urges Obama to Raise West Papua Rights with Indonesia President
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ETAN Urges Obama to Raise West Papua Rights with Indonesia President

contact: John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-917-690-4391,

October 25 -
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today urged President Obama to forcefully urge Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to end human rights violations.

n a petition signed by nearly 1400 people [more than 3500 as of May 2016], the U.S. president was urged "to condition U.S. support for the Indonesian security forces on concrete improvements in human rights."

John M. Miller, national coordinator of ETAN, said that "President Widodo pledged to improve human rights in West Papua. By conditioning assistance to the Indonesian military and police, President Obama can support this policy by striking at those most reluctant to implement it."

Miller added that "Widodo's rights pledge has been undermined by Indonesia's security forces and some of Jokowi's own officials."

Obama and Widodo are scheduled to meet in Washington, DC, on Monday, October 26.


Beginning in May 1963, West Papua was occupied by Indonesia with U.S. government support and encouragement. By 1969, Indonesia had annexed the territory. Over the course of five decades, West Papuans have suffered mass killings, torture, rape, and the loss of their culture and lands.rights. 

The U.S. provides weapons and training to Indonesia's police and military that  continue to repress the West Papuan people.

Freeport mine in West PapuaU.S. corporations like the mining giant Freeport McMoRan have devastated the environment. At least 100,000 Papuans are believed to have died as a result of Indonesian rule. And the region has been so inundated with migrants that indigenous Papuans are no longer a majority in their own land.

The Indonesian government's attempts to conceal the truth about West Papua include restricting access to the territory by foreign journalists and UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights.

While President Widodo has announced several positive initiatives, elements in his government, including the security forces, are resisting change and the human rights violations continue.

The West Papuans continue to resist Indonesian rule. Groups supporting self-determination recently came together in the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in a broad coalition to press their case within West Papua and internationally.

Restrictions on security assistance, training and weapons, from the United States  were important in persuading Indonesia to respect rights of the East Timorese.

ETAN suggests conditioning security assistance on credible trials of those accused of past and ongoing human rights violations; unconditional freedom for political prisoners; unrestricted access to the territory (which currently consists of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua); and internationally-mediated talks between the Indonesian government and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) was founded in 1991 and supports democracy, human rights and justice in Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. Website: Twitter: @etan009. ETAN co-publishes the monthly West Papua Report with the West Papua Advocacy Team.


ETAN is "A voice of reason, criticizing the administration's reluctance to address ongoing human rights violations and escalating oppression in West Papua and against religious minorities throughout Indonesia."

Noam Chomsky

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