19 Oct 2011

International concern at Indonesian security forces deployment to Papuan Congress

8:10 pm on 19 October 2011

The Asia Human Rights Commission has voiced concern at the heavy deployment of Indonesian security forces to the Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura.

Reports emerging from the Papua provincial capital say heavy police and paramilitary presence is converging on Taboria Oval, the site of the Congress, and that violence seems imminent.

The Commission's Norman Voss says reports he's received indicate around 4000 Papuan delegates attended the event today while other reports say that up to twenty-thousand attended on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr Voss says the event is 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 says 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.