Austrialian Council for Overseas Aid Press Release

RE: IN: ACFOA - Press Release on Irian Jaya (West Papua)
Written 5:43 PM Aug 31, 1995 by peg:acfoahr in igc:reg.indonesia

---------- "Freeport Media Release - 29 August" ----------

News Fax
Australian Council for Overseas Aid

For Immediate Release

29 August 1995


A new report on human rights abuse in Irian Jaya (West Papua) released today by ACFOA alleges a massacre of civilians at the end of May and other abuses by the Indonesian military, including summary executions, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, disappearances, surveillance and the destruction of property over the past 12 months. The report follows the release in April of Trouble at Freeport which alleged a series of violations during the last half of 1994.

The new report, entitled Violations of human rights in the Timika area of Irian Jaya (West Papua), Indonesia, was prepared in Irian Jaya (West Papua) for Bishop Munninghoff OFM, head of the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura, of which Timika is a part. Timika is Freeport mine's base on the south coast. Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights has undertaken to investigate the report.

The report documents the shooting of 11 unarmed civilians from Hoea village by soldiers of a battalion 752 patrol on 31 May this year. The patrol commander, Sergeant Marjaka, ordered that the villagers, who had fled into the jungle to escape fighting between OPM (Free Papua) guerrillas and the Indonesian military, be shot in cold blood. Those shot were at prayer at the time of the killing and included a village pastor and two children aged 5 and 6.

The report provides graphic detail of the routine use of torture by the Indonesian military. Practices include kicking with heavy army boots; beating with rattan and rifle butts, denial of food; stamping on hands; kneeling with an iron bar in the knee hollows; and standing for hours with a heavy weight on the head, shoulder and arms.

The report links Freeport mine to the violations through the use of its facilities. The US-owned copper, gold and silver mine is Indonesia's biggest. The report alleges that the military used Freeport vehicles to transport detainees and Freeport containers for imprisonment. It also alleges that civilians detained were tortured at the Freeport workshop at Koperakopa in Tembagapura.

"ACFOA welcomes the decision of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission to undertake its own investigation. This is one way of putting a brake on the cowboys in the Indonesian army and protecting indigenous rights," the Executive Director of ACFOA, Ms Janet Hunt said today. "But as the army is already denying any wrongdoing, we believe that considerable external support will be needed of the inquiry is to fully exercise its mandate in this instance."

The Australian Government, which sent a delegation to Irian Jaya (West Papua) last month, should back up the Commission. We urge the Government to make its own report available to the Commission and press Indonesia to identify and punish those responsible for the abuses. Australia should urge the Commission to investigate the relationship between Freeport security and the Indonesian army, to recommend compensation for the victims and their families and to make policy recommendations on ways to respect indigenous rights in Irian Jaya (West Papua)."

Contact: Janet Hunt (06) 285 1816

Copies of report: Robyn Gilliland (06) 285 1816 or Pat Walsh (03) 9417 7505