MWPS Catch-up Newsletter October 2020
Stand with the most amazing nonviolent and anti-militarist uprising in Oceania. Join Make West Papua Safe!
Make West Papua Safe is an international set of campaigns designed to stop foreign government funding for the Indonesian police and military in West Papua. We are a group of West Papuan human rights defenders, Indonesians and international solidarity activists committed to nonviolent ways to transform conflict. At the moment MWPS is focused on changing the way the Australian government and corporations support the occupation. Below is an update on four of our interconnected campaigns.
Holding the Australian Federal Police Accountable
On Monday the 28th of September Make West Papua Safe held a nonviolent action outside the Australian Federal Police offices in Newstead Brisbane. The purpose of the action was to deliver a letter to the AFP requesting that they meet directly with West Papuan human rights defenders inside the country to discuss the negative human rights impacts of AFP training of the Indonesian National Police. The live-stream of the action has already been viewed over 58,000 times.
If you would like to organise a similar action outside the AFP offices in your city please contact us. We can provide support.
We have given the AFP until 1st December to respond to our letter. Follow us on Facebook or visit our website to hear about follow up actions.
JUST IN: A letter refusing our request to meet arrived from the Assistant Commissioner AFP just just as hundreds of police and TNI opened fire on unarmed protestors in Jayapura (27 October 2020). We will keep up the pressure. See www.makewestpapuasafe.org/afp_refusal
The Balikpapan 7 case
Many of you would have participated in our June 15th Webinar about the Balikpapan Seven accused of organising a series of nonviolent demonstrations against the failure of the Indonesian state to address institutional racism.Make West Papua Safe played an important role in the movement to re-frame the Balikpapan Seven as anti-racism activists rather than political prisoners. Serendipitously, although tragically, this reframing connected with a resurgent Black Lives Matter after the killing of George Floyd. In Indonesia the hashtag #PapuanLivesMatter trended high. For the first time in living memory in Indonesia there was a national and public conversation about racism towards West Papuans.
We are pleased to inform you that all seven anti-racism activists are now free. Senior lawyer for the seven, Gustaf Kawer, is adamant that this is a result of the widespread solidarity both inside and outside the country. He and the Make West Papua Safe team inside the country pass on their thanks to all of you who attended the webinar, protested, emailed, called, wrote letters and shared the news on social media. Your solidarity made all the difference for the seven. In further good news Make West Papua Safe’s friend Straky Yally, a media activist and film-maker is also free.
Please keep sharing the hashtag #PapuanLivesMatter. The work to undo racism and colonialism is ongoing.
The Lombok Treaty
In Canberra Make West Papua Safe, the Australian Student Environment Network and Ronny Kareni, a West Papuan leader living in Canberra, organised a guerrilla screening of the Make West Papua Safe animation ‘Rip Up the Lombok Treaty’. The Lombok Treaty functions to stop the Australian government from talking about the root political problems in West Papua. The Lombok Treaty is like a musical score that sets the tone and rhythm of the Australian government, public service, police, defence and academic policy community’s relationship with the Indonesian government.Fortunately, some government institutions like the Australian Research Council are not so willing to be told what to say and do when it comes to the relationship with Indonesian and West Papua. The ARC helped fund the Rip Up the Lombok Treaty animation as part of research into the role of music in Melanesian justice struggles. This small intervention has already attracted the ire of the Indonesian government. Through Freedom of Information documents, we know the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta was asked to ‘please explain’ to the Indonesian government.
For more about the Lombok Treaty watch our animation. Please contact us if you want to organise your own guerrilla screening. And remember every time you speak out about West Papua you are effectively ripping up the Lombok Treaty.
TNI-POLRI on Australian campuses
Some of you have been helping us investigate Indonesian military (TNI – Tentara Nasional Indonesia) and Indonesian police (POLRI) who are undertaking post doctorate studies in Australia. We have had a number of ‘hits’. This includes a police officer doing post doctorate research into interrogation, Indonesian Army officers studying Masters Degrees, a memorandum of understanding between one Australian University and the Indonesian police and cooperation between another Australian university and the Indonesian equivalent of border force. It is not yet clear if immigration is doing sufficient background checks on people’s visa applications to ensure that no TNI or POLRI officers accused of human rights violations are able to travel to Australia.
We still need more help with this campaign. If you like Internet based research and speak Indonesian please contact us. We would love to hear from you.
Weapons to Indonesia for Harm
Make West Papua Safe is pleased to announce that we have employed a part-time campaigner and researcher who is investigating Australia based companies supplying the TNI-POLRI. We are also doing research into international arms companies as part of a collaboration with War Resisters International. Watch this space!