Sabtu, 07 Januari 2012

It's sheer bloody murder, right on our doorstep

Charlie Hill-Smith
Opinionby,Charlie Hill-Smith
What the Indonesian military is doing is criminal and barbaric, writes Charlie Hill-Smith.
THE highest mountains between the Himalayas and the Andes are the snow-topped crags of West Papua (4884 metres). A tropical glacier pokes out of the sweltering green of Asia's largest rain forests. This is the second largest island on earth, with 15 per cent of all the world's languages, an encyclopaedic biodiversity and a new El Dorado for our resource-hungry world.
Most of us know little about the shady goings-on inside the giant forested island just to our north. But a constant trickle of murders, disappearances, arrests, torture and a wave of mass civil actions have raised the international volume of this previously silent war.
In 1999, we caught a glimpse of the murderous behaviour of the Indonesian military (TNI) as they butchered, raped and burnt the civilian population of East Timor, and it is these same forces that now run West Papua.

  Despite great changes in Jakarta for democracy, human rights and civilian rule, the TNI are still a law unto themselves in Indonesia's far-flung provinces. Only 40 per cent of the TNI's military budget is supplied by Jakarta. The rest is grafted from the locals and their land in these rich, remote locations.

Although President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Gillard consistently defend the Indonesian security forces, a stream of incriminating leaks shows their real form. Here's a snapshot:

  • In August 2009, YouTube screened the torture and murder of potato farmer Yawen Wayeni at Matembu village. TNI soldiers taunted Yawen after disemboweling him and sitting around as he slowly died.
  • In 2010, YouTube showed TNI soldiers torturing detainees, burning their genitals with burning sticks.
Last year, a surveillance report from Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus), ''Anatomy of Papuan Separatists'', was leaked. It laid bare the TNI's repressive and pervasive strategies of spying on and threatening every echelon of West Papuan society at home and abroad. Jacob Rumbiak, a West Papuan exile now Australian citizen living in Melbourne, is a major character in my documentary, Strange Birds in Paradise - A West Papuan Story, and one of the ''targets'' detailed in the Kopassus report.

Things really heated up last September when thousands of mine workers at the Freeport McMoran-Rio Tinto-owned Grasberg mine went on a lengthy strike, closing the world's largest gold and copper mine, Indonesia's biggest taxpayer. The stopwork cost the companies $US30 million dollars per day. So when the miners downed tools to demand pay increases from a paltry $US1.50 an hour up to a lavish $US3 an hour, a lot of rich and powerful people took notice.

A month later, on October 19, 200 language groups from all over West Papua met in the capital, Jayapura, for the ''Third Papuan People's Congress''. The group declared its independence from Indonesia and elected a president and a prime minister and called for United Nations monitors to be deployed.

As the congress wrapped up, the security forces moved in, opened fire and arrested hundreds of peaceful delegates. Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad, Densus 88, trained and supplied by Australia, was pivotal in the violence. Six bodies have since turned up in sewers and ditches around town.
Theys Eluay, elected President by the Congress in 2000, was subsequently strangled to death by Kopassus Special Forces.
Less than a month ago, on December 13, four full-strength TNI combat battalions began a security ''sweeping operation'' in the Paniai district of West Papua. Reports from local human rights groups say that 27 villages were attacked, 75 houses burnt down, six schools destroyed and at least 18 people murdered. Unconfirmed reports state that helicopters machinegunned and threw gas grenades into the village of Markas Eduda. It was reported that 10,800 people fled to hide in the jungle, bringing back memories of the 1989-93 operations where the TNI were accused of torturing thousands of innocent people and extrajudicial killings.

What part of ''psychotic, neocolonial uber-mafia'' doesn't the Australian government understand? This is not a well-groomed fighting force, the quashers of the Dutch, the saviours of the Indonesian people. This is a self-serving, armed corporate mafia. In Jakarta, the TNI have been dragged into the 21st century by dedicated democrats, but West Papua is a long way from there.

To make matters worse, the long-suffering Australian Defence Forces have been forced to train these nasty bastards by successive Australian governments.

It took shocking video of the infamous Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor for the world to finally support the East Timorese against the barbarity of the Indonesian military. The evidence is in for West Papua and it is time for Australia to wake up and realise this human rights disaster is not going away.

Charlie Hill-Smith is the writer and director of Strange Birds in Paradise: A West Papuan Story


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