Jumat, 02 November 2012


Peter G Tatchell


A West Papuan Flag Gets You Arrested in London, as Well as in West Papua

Posted: 01/11/2012 15:23

The State Visit to the UK of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been beset by protests against his government's human rights abuses in occupied West Papua.

On Wednesday I was arrested for unfurling a West Papuan flag as the Indonesian President's limousine departed Westminster Abbey, after being feted by senior Anglicans.

Such arrests are routine in the Indonesian-annexed state, but in London?

As I tried to raise the flag, unidentified men in plainclothes chased and wrestled me to the ground. I was then arrested by Metropolitan Police officers, who claimed the men who had manhandled me were Indonesian security. The police said they were arresting me at the request of the President's entourage. What? Since when can a foreign human rights-abusing President dictate who gets arrested in London?

Taking a leaf out of the heavy-handed tactics used by the Indonesian security forces in West Papua,the Met Police officers applied unnecessary, excessive force, given that I was no threat and was not resisting arrest.

I was stunned to be arrested for what was a peaceful, lawful protest. But perhaps I should not have been so naive. Similar bully-boy tactics are nowadays used all too often by the police to suppress legitimate, non-violent protests.

I was one of nearly 100 protesters who had gathered to protest at human rights abuses by the Indonesian regime, including activists from Free West Papua, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Survival International.

Instead of arresting me, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the person who should have been arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, under British and international law.

The Indonesian President stands accused of complicity with crimes against humanity in the past in East Timor and currently in West Papua, involving the deaths of thousands of people. 

It is appalling that the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and the Church of England are hosting a man who is implicated in mass murder. Well in excess of 100,000 West Papuan civilians have been killed by the Indonesian army.

A long, slow genocide is being perpetrated in West Papua.

Only last week, Indonesian security services opened fire on peaceful, unarmed pro-democracy protesters in West Papua.

As President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is responsible for the abuses committed by the police and military in West Papua. The buck stops with him.

Under Indonesia's tyrannical rule, West Papuans are denied basic human rights, including freedom of expression and their own cultural identity. Two Papuan men, Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma, have been jailed for 10 and 15 years respectively for merely raising the West Papuan flag.
By comparison to them, I was lucky. All that happened to me was arrest, a bit of rough manhandling and a spell in police custody.

Indonesia has much to hide and knows it. That's why foreign media and human rights groups are denied access to West Papua.

Indonesia annexed West Papua in the 1960s, when the Netherlands relinquished its south east Asian colonies. The West Papuan people never agreed to be a part of Indonesia. Jakarta maintains its rule by military force. It refuses to allow the people of West Papua the right to self-determination, in flagrant defiance of the United Nations Charter.

So why is the British government colluding with the President of an oppressive regime? Oil? Minerals? Timber? Arms sales? All four.

While the British state protected the leader of a human rights-abusing regime, I was arrested for a non-violent, legal protest, which involved nothing more sinister than holding a flag. I was deemed to have breached the peace. I was also threatened with further breach of the peace charges for "shouting loudly" and for what one police officer described as "pointing your finger at me in a way that I find intimidating."

A police officer intimidated by a pointed finger? Can you believe it? Are police officers nowadays really such ultra-sensitive souls? Heaven help us if they have to deal with hardened criminals with weapons. No wonder the streets are awash with crime. Timid police officers!

On arrest, I was put in rigid handcuffs. They were twisted by the police, which pinched the nerves in my wrist, causing agonising pain. It seemed like this was deliberate. I am still in pain a day later - not just my wrists but also my arm, shoulder, back, leg and foot.

Nevertheless, what was done to me is nothing by comparison to the daily brutalities inflicted on the heroic people of West Papua by the Indonesian army of occupation.

I am saddened that some police officers apparently have no respect for freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest - rights and freedoms that have been hard won by the protests and sacrifices of many British people down the centuries. 

I was detained unlawfully and deprived of my liberty for two hours. After being taken to Charring Cross police station, I was eventually released without charge. Clearly, the police knew they had over-stepped the mark and that the charges against me were baseless.

The Indonesian President's State Visit to the UK continues until 2 November. So will the protests. Free West Papua

Kamis, 01 November 2012


Indonesian President to receive ghoulish Halloween welcome

Media Advisory Notice

Demonstrations planned for Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What: As Indonesian security forces opened fire on unarmed protestors attending a demonstration in Papua in support of an International Parliamentarians for West Papua meeting in the UK Parliament, human rights groups are planning to mark the state visit of Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, with protests on behalf the victims of abuses in Papua, Timor-Leste and elsewhere. During the visit, from 31 October to 2 November, the British Government will also be challenged about its policy of increasing arms sales to Indonesia, its training of anti-terror police implicated in the killing of Papuan leaders, and its promotion of unsustainable business interests in Papua and elsewhere.

When: 31 October 2012

13:00–14:30: Demonstration opposite Downing Street, London, SW1A

13:30: Photo opportunity – Mock presentation of giant dossier of unresolved human rights cases to Indonesian President by the ghosts of victims.

Why: Despite Indonesia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, many serious human rights problems remain. The rights groups will be highlighting key issues during the visit, including UK training of Indonesia’s counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88; Arms Sales; Human Rights in Papua; The Need for Dialogue in Papua; Rights, Livelihoods and Climate Justice; Religious Intolerance; and Timor-Leste and Impunity. Information about these issues is set out in a briefing available here.

Who: Groups organising the protests include TAPOL, Down to Earth, Amnesty International, Survival International, the UK-based NGO Forum for Indonesia and Timor-Leste and their supporters.

How: For interviews and further information, please contact - Paul Barber, TAPOL (paul.barber@tapol.org; 07747 301 739); Chloe Corbin, Survival International (020 7687 8700); Andrew Hickman, Down to Earth (indonesiandrew@yahoo.com 07504 738 696).


Indonesian president greeted by protests on London visit

Updated 1 hour 30 minutes ago
Dozens of protesters have denounced alleged torture in Indonesia and accused Britain of putting commercial interests ahead of human rights on the first day of a state visit by the Indonesian president.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono received a lavish royal welcome for the first Indonesian state visit to Britain in more than 30 years, but activists criticised the British government for valuing commercial ties over the rights of Indonesian minorities.
"The West Papuans are being held, tortured and killed and all England and the whole European Union do is back him (Yudhoyono) up - they are only in it for the money," said one protester Nal Pattinama, with tears in her eyes.
Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies and is seen as one of the most democratic countries in Southeast Asia, but its military has kept a tight rein on Papua, home to a mine with the world's largest gold reserves.
Indonesia's government and military have been criticised in the past for human rights abuses in West Papua, after Indonesia took over the province in 1969 in a vote by community leaders that was widely criticised as flawed.
A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered on Indonesia's eastern-most island for decades.
Protesters, some wearing Halloween masks and ghoulish face paint, gathered outside the prime minister's office on Downing Street and waved red paint-splattered placards calling for the release of Papuan political prisoners, imprisoned for advocating independence from Indonesia.
Others, including representatives from Amnesty International and Indonesian non-government organisations, waved West Papuan flags, an act they said is punishable by 15 years in prison in Indonesia.
"It's disgusting that one can walk up towards the Palace and the Indonesian flag is flown on behalf of our government supporting the like of Indonesia," protester Bob Corn said.
Nearby, Britain's Queen Elizabeth greeted President Yudhoyono and his wife in a red-carpeted pavilion on Horse Guards Parade, as a 41-gun salute rang out and regimental bands in bearskin hats played the Indonesian national anthem.
Britain is keen to foster a strong commercial relationship with the fast-emerging nation and has channelled resources from its embassies in the European Union to boost its diplomatic presence in Indonesia and the region.
After the official welcome, Yudhoyono was whisked off in a gilded carriage to Buckingham Palace for a private lunch with the queen.
In the three-day official visit, Javanese-born Yudhoyono will attend a state banquet, address parliament and open the Indonesia-UK Business Forum.