The Guardian April 7, 1999


West Papua:
Human rights groups call for justice and peace

In a joint statement, human rights activists from Asia, Africa and South 
America have called for justice and peace for the indigenous people of West 
Papua.

Addressing their message to President Habibie of Indonesia, the human 
rights groups called for a "democratic and peaceful process towards a 
conclusion of the National Dialogue between the indigenous people of Irian 
Jaya/West Papua and the Government of Indonesia". 

The appeal was signed by representatives of the Asian Forum for Human 
Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) in Thailand, the Association for 
Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (ATPDH) in Chad (Central Africa), the 
Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (IHRSTAD) in West Papua, 
the Instituto "Sou Dapaz", Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Movement for the 
Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), in Nigeria.

Referring to the demand for independence  "following 35 years of 
colonisation by Indonesia"  which West Papuan representatives presented 
to President Habibie in February, the human rights activists expressed 
their concern that it might "spark violence against civilians by the 
[Indonesian] military (ABRI) or by forces backed by ABRI as has recently 
occurred in East Timor, Aceh, and the Mollucas".

The human rights groups pointed out that ABRI's "brutality against the 
people of Indonesia ... has included massacre, torture, rape, and 
disappearance".

They urged President Habibie and the Indonesian Government to "listen to 
the plight and genuine political aspirations of the Papuans", to continue 
the dialogue with Papuan representatives "with the goal of establishing a 
just peace in the country" and to allow international representatives and 
journalists "to monitor the relevant activities of the dialogue".

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