A report claims Australia provided Indonesia with helicopters which were used used to carry out ‘genocidal’ attacks in West Papua.
(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
A report claims Australia provided Indonesia with helicopters which were used used to carry out ‘genocidal’ attacks in West Papua in the late 1970s.
The report by the Asian Human Rights Commission says Australian helicopters were among aircraft used to carry out napalm and cluster bombing in the West Papuan highlands.
And a warning, this report contains some disturbing material.
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The startling report claims West Papuan independence supporters were burned and boiled alive; women were raped, had their breasts cut off and internal organs pulled out; while other villagers were sliced with razors and forced to eat soldiers’ faeces.
Entitled “The Neglected Genocide – Human Rights abuses against Papuans in the Central Highlands”, the report estimates more than four-thousand people from 15 communities were killed in 1977 and 1978.
The Asian Human Rights Commission’s Basil Fernando says it’s upsetting that Indonesia and its neighbours have failed to recognise what he says was genocide.
“Such a large number of people being killed, but has not been a preoccupation for the Indonesian government as well as for the neighbouring countries – such as Australia – that is one of the most shocking aspects of this report.”
The Indonesian military launched the alleged attacks in response to West Papuan independence uprisings following 1977 general elections.
University of New South Wales West Papua expert, Associate Professor Clinton Fernandes, explains:
“In the 1970s the Indonesian military was annexing West Papua and some of the Papuans who were resisting had to be crushed by force. The Indonesian air force’s doctrine was to destroy agricultural areas, destroy foodstocks, buffaloes, paddy fields and so on. And they would use napalm and they would do that in order to starve the resistence into submission.”
The report claims two helicopters provided by Australia were used in bombing attacks on the Central Highlands villagers.
But Associate Professor Fernandes says it’s very difficult to obtain a fuller picture of Australia’s involvement in West Papua at the time because many of the relevant diplomatic cables have yet to be released.
That’s despite the fact they were due to be de-classified five years ago.
Associate Professor Fernandes says the Department of Foreign Affairs is objecting to their release on national security grounds.
“It looks like the Australian government is claiming national security problems but really is afraid of embarrassment about what the public would think of it, were it to realise how closely involved we were with the Indonesian military.”
Associate Professor Fernandes says what is known is that between 1975 and 1978 Australia spent $26-million helping to modernise the Indonesian military.
He says it’s impossible that Australian authorities didn’t know Australian choppers were being used in the attacks in West Papua.
“It’s inconceivable. Anybody who provided the helicopters as well as Australian intelligence would have been writing detailed reports about what they knew, how they’d been used and so on simply in order to inform out own intelligence services about the doctrine, training and operational capabilities of the Indonesian airforce. Bureaucrats can never say they knew nothing. It’s possible that certain high level politicians may not have read certain reports and so on but this is all the more reason for the government to declassify its holdings from the 1970s.”
Tom Clarke from the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre is calling on the federal government to launch a comprehensive review of Australia’s relationship with the Indonesian military and security forces.
He says it’s not only historical ties between the two nations that are of concern.
“Detachment 88 is Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit and this is a detachment that is accused of committing human rights abuses in West Papua in the last few years. So this is a unit that the Australian government provides support to. So the Human Rights Law Centre would like to see a complete review of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia’s military to make sure we’re not in any way complicit with human rights abuses.”
In a statement to SBS Radio the Department of Foreign Affairs says the contemporary human rights situation in West Papua does not resemble the situation portrayed in the Asian Human Rights Commission report.
The Department says it is unable to comment on the situation 35 years ago.
SOURCE WORLD NEWS AUSTRALIA