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Tuesday, 29 March 2016 14:37

New report tells of murder, kidnapping and torture in West Papua

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free west papuaAllegations of recent military and police intimidation, beatings and torture, kidnapping and murder in West Papua, have been documented in a new Church report.

The report documents Muslims being radicalised in the once predominantly Christian Papuan provinces, and “very active” Muslim militias that burn down Papuan houses.

The report was compiled by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s Shadow Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua, following a visit to West Papua last month.

It has not yet been publicly released, nor comment sought from Indonesian authorities.

The report documents religious, social and economic discrimination including how the carve up of land for major development has benefited multinationals and excluded Papuans from ownership and jobs.

It refers to a slow motion genocide happening 250km north of Australia and states that “the Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam”.

The report author Josephite Sister Susan Connelly was accompanied to West Papua by Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt.

During their fact-finding mission they interviewed more than 250 community leaders in Japapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong.

Sr Connelly, a respected human rights advocate, likened her visit to West Papua to “stepping back twenty years when I first went to East Timor”.

“The same oppressive security presence everywhere, the same suspicion, bewilderment, frustration and sadness,” she said.

“The same fear. The same seemingly groundless hope.

“A man took my hands in his and said, ‘We are in danger’. That simple statement sums up for me the experience of the whole visit.

“The Papuan people have lost so much, and are facing erasure as a people, merely preserved as oddities of the past or artifacts to be photographed for tourist brochures.

“They realise that their land is considered more valuable than they are.”

The fact-finding team heard many accounts of alleged military and police brutality and murder.

Read the full story by Mark Bowling published on 9 March 2016 in The Catholic Leader.