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Post Fw: Claims of Papua student massacre (Margaret Mackenzie, US)
Created by John Eipper on 03/27/06 9:25 AM - fw-claims-of-papua-student-massacre-margaret-mavkenzie-us

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Fw: Claims of Papua student massacre (Margaret Mackenzie, US) (John Eipper, USA, 03/27/06 9:25 am)

Margaret Mackenzie sends this article from The Australian (3/25/06) ?"Claims of Papua student massacre" by Rob Taylor in Jakarta

Human rights watchdogs in Papua are investigating reports that up to 16 students have been murdered by Indonesian security forces. The reports come amid rising tensions between Indonesia and Australia, after
Canberra granted protection visas to 42 Papuan asylum seekers who claim genocide by Indonesian security forces. Australian Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said today she had information from activists that 16 bodies had been found in forests near the scene of recent student riots in which four police and an Indonesian air force officer were stoned to death by protesters. Indonesia has bolstered paramilitary police numbers in the separatist-minded province since the riots against a US-owned gold mine, raising fears of more bloodshed as security forces launch reprisals.

Senator Stott Despoja said her source, who she would not name, claimed 16 university students had been found dead in the forests near Cendrawasih University in Abepura, on the outskirts of the provincial capital Jayapura. "The report's sources are reliable but are not prepared to be named to protect their own safety," she said. But Aloysius Renuaren, the Papua director of the Indonesian human rights watchdog Elsham, said the deaths were only rumours sweeping through the province., "It's what people are saying," he said. "But we are still investigating it and so far we haven't found or concluded anything." He said the reports were also being investigated by other smaller rights groups.

While still only rumours, the reports highlight the soaring tensions in Papua, which Indonesian won control of in 1969 following a UN-backed vote of "free choice" widely seen as rigged. Many analysts fear Australia's decision to give temporary protection visas to the 42 Papuans, separatist leaders among them, will only stoke
independence ambitions in the province. Indonesia has recalled its ambassador in protest, but most analysts believe the move is largely symbolic and the latest row between Canberra and Jakarta will pass quickly.
Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb flew out of Canberra on Friday, but was not expected to remain long in Indonesia.

Police in Papua have urged students who fled Cendrawasih University after after last week's riots to return, promising there will be no reprisals for the deaths of the five security personnel. "There is no need to be afraid .... there is a security guarantee," senior commander BHP Sitompul told the Jakarta Post newspaper.
Police were repairing dormitories damaged when elite Mobile Brigade paramilitary officers raided them on the night of the killings, smashing windows, television sets, tables and chairs. The repairs, Sitompul said, underscored the determination of police to repair relations with restive students, who believe the giant Freeport gold and copper mine has given little back to the province apart from environmental destruction.

Senator Stott Despoja urged the Australian Government to remain strong in its opposition of Indonesian human rights abuses. "Details of how the massacre occurred are at this stage unknown, but this is
the strongest indication yet that the abuses in West Papua must be investigated and the perpetrators of this horrendous act and previous abuses must be bought to justice," she said. Thoha al Hamid, the secretary-general of the Papua Presidium Council ? a body set up to spearhead Papuan independence claims ? said the massacre rumours were almost certainly false. "I am sure that no such thing could happen," he said from Papua. (abridged).

RH: I received a request to sign a protest about this, but I abstained, since I have little solid information on the subject.

Plan to attend the WAIS conference on "Critical World Issues " at Stanford July 31-August 1, 2006. It will be a rare opportunity to meet other WAISers. Tell interested friends.





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