19 Oct 2011

International concern at Indonesian security forces deployment at Papuan Congress

8:10 pm on 19 October 2011

Reports are emerging that shots have been fired by Indonesian security forces on delegates at the Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura.

This comes as international concern has been voiced at the large deployment of police and paramilitary troops around Taboria Oval, the site of the congress which has been discussing Papua self-determination aspirations.

The West Papua Media Alerts service reported that police and army this afternoon opened fire on the Papuan congress with "reports of casualties but no confirmation of numbers".

Both the Papua National Consensus Team, and the Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights, say that many arrests have been made.

Those arrested include the President of a newly declared independent state of West Papua, Forkorus Yabisembut, who was elected by Papuan tribal representatives at the congress.

Earlier, the Asian Human Rights Commission expressed concern at what it called an unjustifiable deployment of security forces to the congress which it says was attended today by four thousand people.

The Commission's Norman Voss said the event was a peaceful and legal assembly where the Papuans are within their rights to discuss their aspirations, mostly about self-determination.

"But none of these require such an unproportional, heavy deployment of troops as we have received reports about now. There are allegedly more than two-thousand security forces who are mobilised, heavily armoured trucks with machine-guns are surrounding the area. What kind of event are the security forces preparing for?"

Norman Voss said many Papuans have stayed away from the congress due to fears of violence by the security forces.

Meanwhile, Australia's Greens have urged the Indonesian authorities to show restraint at the Congress, and warned them that the world is watching what occurs.

The Greens' West Papua spokesperson, Senator Richard Di Natale, says Papuan people have a right to assemble and discuss their future without threat of violence.

Senator Di Natale says that no level of violence is acceptable at a peaceful gathering, and that the authorities will have to answer to the world for any bloodshed.