Charles Scheiner, 1-914-428-7299, firstname.lastname@example.org
Warning of ominous parallels between the situation in West Papua and events last year in East Timor, Charles Scheiner, United Nations Representative of the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), urged Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid to "stop militia terror while it can still be controlled" in West Papua.
The militias, Scheiner said in a letter sent to President Wahid on his visit today to the United Nations, "operate with the logistical and political support of the Indonesian military."
Writing on behalf of IFET's 39 organizations, Scheiner urged Wahid to "use every nonviolent means at your disposal to assert authority over the military and police in Papua, and to terminate violations of human rights perpetrated with the cooperation or complicity of your government's armed forces."
The letter also urged Wahid to arrest militia leaders and remove them from the refugee camps in West Timor, and thereby allow the 100,000 East Timorese people there to freely choose their future homeland."
While taking no position on the West Papuan independence, the letter called the 1969 UN- supervised "Act of Free Choice" "a blot on Indonesian and United Nations history, a fraudulent, unrepresentative charade which should be discarded in the new era of Indonesian democracy, along with other totalitarian policies of the Suharto regime."
Indonesia annexed Dutch New Guinea (West Papua) as Irian Jaya in 1963. The UN recognized Indonesia's claim in 1969, after it and Jakarta administered the so-called Act of Free Choice in which about 1000 Indonesian-selected delegates -- out of a population of 800,000 Papuans -- agreed under pressure to become a province of Indonesia
In the months leading up to last August 30 vote in East Timor, the International
Federation for East Timor sent 140 non-partisan observers to East Timor
to observe the U.N.-administered consultation process. IFET was formed
in 1991 to support the self-determination process for East Timor at the
United Nations. It now has 39 member groups from 23 countries.
International Federation for East Timor (IFET)*
PO Box 1182, White Plains, NY 10602 USA
June 13, 2000
President Abdurrahman Wahid
c/o Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations
By fax to 1-212-972-9780
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing you to express our concern about developments in West Papua. Although we appreciate the increase in democratic space that has allowed the Papuan people to express their opinions more openly, we are worried about the escalating activities of pro- Indonesia militia groups, many of whom are linked to the Indonesian Armed Forces.
In the months leading up to last years August 30 vote, the International Federation for East Timor sent 140 non-partisan observers to East Timor to observe the popular consultation process. Our teams, in every district of East Timor, witnessed pro- integration militias killing and terrorizing the people of East Timor in an attempt to sabotage their vote. And after 78.5% of the East Timorese people expressed their pro-independence views in that U.N.-conducted act of self-determination, we were evacuated from East Timor while these militias were destroying East Timor and forcibly displacing its population. It is widely acknowledged that these militias were created, financed, armed and directed by significant elements of the TNI, Polri, and other branches of the Indonesian government.
It is to your predecessor's credit that he began the process to allow the East Timorese people to exercise their legal and moral right to self-determination. It is to his shame that he was unable or unwilling to bring the TNI and its puppet militias under control.
Over the last few weeks, a similar pattern has been emerging in Papua. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to stop militia terror while it can still be controlled. In Papua, as in East Timor, the militias operate with the logistical and political support of the Indonesian military. We know that you do not condone illegal violence perpetrated by these militias, but the fact that such violence continues indicates that your government has not done enough to end it. Please use every nonviolent means at your disposal to assert authority over the military and police in Papua, and to terminate violations of human rights perpetrated with the cooperation or complicity of your government's armed forces.
Last week, the Second Papuan People's Congress reiterated West Papua's 1961 declaration of independence and expressed the desire to separate from Indonesia. The International Federation of East Timor neither endorses nor opposes this wish, but believes that the people of West Papua, like those of East Timor and everywhere else in the world, have the legal and moral right to self-determination. We watched the East Timorese people exercise that right last August, but, although the UN acknowledged the Papuan people's right to self-determination, the Papuan people have never had that opportunity. The 1969 "Act of Free Choice" is a blot on Indonesian and United Nations history, a fraudulent, unrepresentative charade which should be discarded in the new era of Indonesian democracy, along with other totalitarian policies of the Suharto regime.
The International Federation for East Timor encourages you to meet with Papuan leaders when you return to Jakarta, and to continue the peaceful discussion of Papua's political future. We hope you will do everything in your power to allow nonviolent political expression and activities to continue in Papua, and to resolve the issues there peacefully, in the best interests of everyone concerned. Violent acts against civilians, whether they be committed by pro-independence forces, pro-Indonesia militia, or the TNI itself, will only undercut this process.
In closing, we welcome your government's interest in good relations with East Timor, and encourage you to continue to work with their leaders to be good neighbors, and to resist those elements trying to disrupt that friendship. Finally, we urge you to arrest militia leaders and remove them from the refugee camps in West Timor, and thereby allow the 100,000 East Timorese people there to freely choose their future homeland.
As a New Yorker, I welcome you to my city and country, hope your visit is enjoyable and productive, and wish you the best of health. And as concerned citizens from countries all over the world, the International Federation for East Timor wishes you success in your efforts to restore human rights and democracy for all people in Indonesia. Although the people of East Timor are no longer under Indonesian jurisdiction, we continue to watch and encourage the growth of freedom for those who are. Thank you for your concern and attention.
Charles A. Scheiner
* Member Organizations of the International Federation
for East Timor
Australia-East Timor Association
Australians for a Free East Timor
Brisbane East Timor Office (Australia)
Campaign for an Independent East Timor (South Australia)
East Timor International Support Center (Australia)
East Timor Relief Association (Australia)
Friends of East Timor, Western Australia
Hobart East Timor Committee (Australia)
Lismore Friends of East Timor (Australia)
Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor
East Timor Alert Network (Canada)
National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT, East Timor)
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (Fiji)
East Timor Group of Committee of 100 (Finland)
Agir Pour Timor (France)
Association Solidarité Timor-Oriental (France)
Gesellschaft fur Bedrohte Volker (Germany)
Watch Indonesia! (Germany)
East Timor Roundtable (Hong Kong)
Indian Society for Human Rights
Forum Solidaritas Untuk Rakyat Timor Lorosae (FORTILOS, Indonesia)
East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign
Latin American and Mediterranean Coalition for East Timor (Italy)
Free East Timor - Japan Coalition
East Timor Information Network (Malaysia)
International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (Netherlands)
Norwegian Cooperation Council for East Timor and Indonesia
Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor (Philippines)
A Paz é Possivel em Timor Leste (Port.)
Commissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere (Portugal)
Movimento Christão para a Paz (Port.)
Paz é Justica para Timor Leste (Portugal)
East Timor Scotland Support Group
Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina y Africa (Spain)
Östtimor Kommitten (Sweden)
British Coalition for East Timor
East Timor Action Network (USA)
International Secretariat, Parliamentarians for East Timor
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