Secret papers reveal Indonesian tactics in West Papua

16 August 2011

West Papuans demonstrating against the Indonesian government outside The Hague.
West Papuans demonstrating against the Indonesian government outside The Hague.

Australia should cease its ongoing support of the Indonesian Army Special Forces group, Kopassus, and reconsider military aid to Indonesia until Indonesian reforms of recent years spread to West Papua, the latest report from the University of Sydney's West Papua Project recommends.

"Until then West Papua will blight Indonesia's international reputation and remain a place of suffering for its indigenous Melanesian population," Anatomy of an Occupation concludes.

The report highlights the tactics of the Indonesian military (TNI) and police, intimidating and dividing the region's indigenous people as they seek self-determination. It calls on the Indonesian government to reduce its military presence in West Papua.

TNI documents anonymously provided to the report authors, researchers at the University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, reveal the names and activities of Indonesian intelligence agents operating in West Papua, and describe how Kopassus in particular monitors traditional Papuan communities.

The report shows support for independence in West Papua is widespread despite Kopassus attempts to divide the local population.

"The momentum for independence and Papuan attempts to appeal to international audiences are considered an increasingly serious threat by the Indonesian government," says co-author Professor Peter King.

Anatomy of an Occupation fleshes out the reality of day-to-day living under Indonesian occupation. It outlines details of uninvestigated killings, beatings and rapes occurring while hundreds of thousands of non-Melanesian, Muslim Indonesians move in as settlers to a province once overwhelmingly Christian.

"This adds another layer of tension and fear, exacerbating the Muslim-Christian divide apparent elsewhere in Indonesia," Professor King says.

Anatomy of an Occupation was written by Professor King, PhD student Camellia Webb-Gannon and Dr Jim Elmslie. Members of the public are welcome to attend its official launch by SBS Television's Mark Davis at the University's Macleay Museum on Tuesday 16 August at 6pm.

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