10 Jul 2017

Australia urged to act over mass arrests in West Papua

2:27 pm on 10 July 2017

The Australia West Papua Association is pushing for action from Canberra over another bout of mass arrests of West Papuans in neighbouring Indonesia.

Around 150 Papuans - mainly members of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB - were arrested between 30 June and 6 July in the city of Nabire.

The arrests stem from a KNPB-organised protest march to the Nabire police station to demand the release of one of the group's activists who had been missing for three days.

This led to the demonstrators themselves being detained amid a series of other arrests last week.

The Association said among those arrested were people who were subject to torture, including children.

It had sent a letter to Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over the arrests, urging her to press the Indonesian government for the release of all West Papuan activists.

A spokesman for the Association, Joe Collins, said it was pointless of governments to say Indonesia is now a democracy and human rights abuses are a thing of the past.

He said the ongoing arrests of peaceful demonstrators prove otherwise.