Thursday, March 16, 2006

US report might help Papuan boat people

The Age reports "a US State Department report alleging torture and intimidation by Indonesian security forces against Papuan separatists may add weight to the case of 43 Papuan boat people seeking asylum in Australia.

The US report on human rights in Indonesia said abuses had decreased in the past year, but there were still serious problems in Papua province, where separatists have struggled against Jakarta's rule for decades.

Widespread intimidation was occurring even though the military estimated there were only 620 guerrillas belonging to the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, armed with only around 150 weapons among them, the report said.

The use of torture to obtain confessions from suspects was most apparent in Papua and Aceh, where rebels have concluded a peace deal with the Indonesian government."

It is pleasing that the US State Department takes its human rights reporting mandate seriously. It would be even more impressive if it turned that enquiring eye toward the activities of its own government, but perhaps that would be an enquiry too far!

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