10 Aug 2005

Australian senator queries reports about Indonesian troop movement

2:13 pm on 10 August 2005

An Australian Democrat senator, Natasha Stott Despoja, says the Australian government has to investigate reports of an Indonesian troop build-up in Papua province.

Senator Stott Despoja says there are reports of up to 15,000 Indonesian troops being sent there in recent weeks and that the soldiers have shot and tortured villagers and destroyed their houses.

She says a call in the US Congress for the US and Australia to reconsider its Indonesian policies has raised expectations among the pro-independence movement and this may have motivated the troop build-up.

She says the Australian government must ask Jakarta if the reports more troops have been sent are true.

"If they are true, what on earth is going on. But secondly I think our government has a responsibility tot he region. West Papua is pretty much on the doorstep if you like - if human rights abuses are taking place we as a nation have a responsibility to expose that and make clear our views."