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Rally blames US for Papua rights abuses

Protesters say treaty handed over control of natural resources

Papuans rally outside the U.S. embassy on Wednesday Papuans rally outside the U.S. embassy on Wednesday
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • August 16, 2012
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Dozens of Papuans rallied in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Wednesday, saying that New York Agreement signed 50 years ago had led to oppression and human rights violations.

"The agreement is an entry point for suppression of Papuans," said Marthen Goo of the National Papuan Solidarity, which coordinated the rally.

Goo said the U.S. had economic motives for the treaty paved the way for an "undemocratic and at gunpoint" approach by the Indonesian government.

The New York Agreement was signed on August 15, 1962 at the UN headquarters in New York, ending the territorial dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia over West Papua.

The treaty led to 1969’s "the act of free choice" – a highly disputed election that had West Papuans agree to remain with Indonesia.

However, according to Goo, arranging the treaty was a US strategy to build cooperation with the Indonesian government in order to manage Papua's natural wealth.

The agreement, he said, has created a “master and guard“ relationship in which Indonesia is the US’s guard dog in the exploitation of Papua’s natural resources.

Both the US and Indonesian governments have robbed much from Papua and given very little to local people, said Meki Wetipo, one of demonstrators.

He urged the US government to investigate human rights violations, environmental destruction, and the appropriation of land, especially by the gold mining company Freeport, Inc.

"Human rights violations are so great here, a trauma for Papuans. They have caused the fight for independence," said Reverend Benny Giay, a church leader in Papua.

According to a report of the Institute for Human Rights Studies (ELSHAM) and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) on Tuesday, there are 749 unresolved human rights abuses in Papua since the 1970s.

Those were identified as killing of civilians, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence.

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