International academics call for withdrawal of TNI from West Papua

CNN Indonesia – November 20, 2017
Indonesian military forces (Antara)
Indonesian military forces (Antara)

Rinaldy Sofwan, Jakarta – Philosopher and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Noam Chomsky and a group of international academics are calling on the Indonesian government to withdraw all troops from West Papua following allegations of human rights violations against civilians by security forces in the province.

“We call on the Indonesian government and our respective countries to take urgent and effective action to ensure that the Indonesian military is immediately withdrawn from West Papua and that Indonesia demilitarise the region as an initial step towards resolving the conflict peacefully”, said the academics in an open letter posted on their website and accessed by CNN Indonesia on Monday November 20.

The group, which calls itself the International Academics for West Papua (IAWP), said that since 1969 the Indonesian military has routinely fired on peaceful demonstrations, torched villages and tortured civil society activists and local people.

Although they are prohibited from entering the province, independent observers such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Indonesian Human Rights Campaign (Tapol) have documented serious and endemic human rights violations by Indonesia throughout Papua, said the group which was formed in 2016.

“Indonesian Special Forces and counter-terrorist units such as Kopassus and Densus 88 – which are trained by Western countries – are implicated in beatings, extrajudicial executions and mass killings in the region.”

“The huge military presence combined with racism and structural economic discrimination against the local Papuan population will only have the consequence of conflict and abuse”.

The IAWP also demanded that “military and police training along with the export of weapons to Indonesia be halted until the human rights violation in West Papua are stopped”, including training and funding for Densus 88 by Australia, the United State, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand which takes palce at the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

In addition to calling for the withdrawal of military forces and end to cooperation, Chomsky and his colleagues are also calling on Indonesia to release all political prisoners and allow non-government organisations (NGOs) and the international media into Papua.

The IAWP are also demanding that the international community take a firm stand on the alleged human rights violations in Papua and call on the Indonesian government to respect the Universal Human Rights Declaration and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights which has already been ratified by Indonesia.

Finally, they are calling on Indonesia and the international community to acknowledge the historical injustice of the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” in which the Papuan people were not given the right to choose their own future and were forced to become part of Indonesia.

The open letter can be found at the IAWP website [] and can be signed by the public.

In addition to Chomsky, a number of other academics have signed the letter including Sydney University lecturer Michael Webb, Western Sydney University researcher Camellia Webb-Gannon, Deakin University Professor Helen Gardner, Grant McCall from the University of Sydney and 14 other academics. (aal)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Akademisi Internasional Minta TNI Ditarik dari Papua.]