6 Sep 2006

ICG doubts genocide label for Papua abuse

3:14 pm on 6 September 2006

The International Crisis Group says the Indonesian province of Papua is not a happy place, but neither is it a killing field.

In a briefing statement released from its headquarters in Brussels, the NGO says allegations of genocide in Papua by security forces are not well-founded.

The NGO says it's a fact that in Papua there's a current pattern of low-level abuse and a past pattern of grave human rights violations.

But the Group says the number of troops has risen in Papua in the last two years, but rumours that the Indonesian military is about to double its forces in the province are untrue.

The briefing says governors and district heads are all indigenous Papuans but this has not eased corruption or improved local government.

The South East Asia Project Director for the NGO, Sidney Jones, says the most useful assistance the international community can provide to Papua is development aid to strengthen local institutions and deliver basic services.

The briefing says sources outside Indonesia tend to paint a picture of Papuans suppressed by pro-government militias and multinational companies.

It adds sources within Indonesia portray Papua as the target of Western nations seeking to bring about military intervention in support of separatists.

The ICG reports that many of the distortions about Papua could be addressed by lifting restrictions on foreign journalists.