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Indonesia’s Occupation of Terror in West Papua

Papuan activist claim illegal detention in PNG

A West Papuan activist in Australia claims his father and three other men have been illegally detained on trumped up charges in Papua New Guinea.

Ronny Kareni, who fled with his family from West Papua in 1984, says his father and the three men returned to the Indonesian territory to attend West Papuan independence celebrations in October.

Mr Kareni says they were initially detained by the Indonesian military before they fled back to PNG where they were targetted by corrupt police and customs officers.

It’s sheer bloody murder, right on our doorstep – The genocidal settler colonialism of Indonesia in West Papua – fostered and abetted by Australia and the US in service of mercantilism.

In December, pro-independence groups in West Papua claimed 17 people were killed in a couple of days as “Indonesian military forces used mining company helicopters to attack villages in the Indonesian-occupied region.

In actions against TPN, 20,000 people in the Paniai area of West Papua have been left homeless after the army attacks.

They believe an Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 is involved in ongoing military operations in Paniai.

Quoting human rights defender Ferry Marisan, Media Alert says 30 people have died in the latest round of violence, including 17 this week.

”Only 10 of these victims were members of the TPN, according to Marisan.”

Children aged between two and four were among the dead.

The latest conflict area is in the area of the Derewo River Gold, a joint venture between an Indonesian company and Australian investors, Paniai Gold, a fully owned subsidiary of Melbourne based gold mining company West Wits Mining.

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West Papua Report January 2012

Indonesian security forces, including the U.S. and Australian supported Detachment 88, conducted “sweeping operations” in the Paniai area of West Papua that destroyed churches, homes and public buildings, and forced hundreds of civilians from their homes. The Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) urged the Police Commander to remove forces from the region, echoing civil society leaders in Paniai. Jakarta’s failure to provided basic health services to Papuans has led to a high rate of death among mothers at child birth according to a recent report. An unconfirmed report claims that President Yudhoyono has committed to withdraw non-organic troops from West Papua and to suspend the operations of a special unit proposed to address fundamental Jakarta-Papua problems. The cost in human life for Papuans of Jakarta’s decades of neglect of the Papuan population is well documented. Amnesty International met with a senior official in Jakarta to press for release of political prisoners, particularly in West Papua and Maluku. The three-month old strike by workers at the Freeport McMoRan mines appears to be headed toward resolution.

Inadequate Health Care Responsible for High Rate of Death of Mothers at Child Birth

The Jakarta Post reports that maternal deaths in West Papua remain high. Victor Nugraha, an official with the Papuan Health Agency, speaking to media in Manokwari, said that the rate of deaths in 2011 would be at least as high as in 2010. Real figures, he added, were difficult to ascertain because many cases of death during child birth are not recorded due to the shortage of medical personnel to maintain records.

According to the official the main causes of maternal death were hemorrhage, post-pregnancy infections, and hypertension. Anemia due to iron deficiency can lead to hemorrhaging. Beside low iron levels due to poor nutrition, anemia can also be caused by malaria, which is common in West Papua. The official also explained that late pregnancy checks and poor surgery facilities for caesarean sections in clinics also contribute to maternal deaths.

This report echoes a far more detailed study conducted in the Kebar Valley of West Papua in 2008 (see Health care in the Bird’s Head Peninsula. Its conclusions are stark:

Out of 708 pregnancies 4.7% led to miscarriage and 1.4% of the children were born dead.
Out of 665 child births, where the baby was born alive, 213 baby’s and children eventually died. This is an infant mortality rate of 32.0%. This means that almost 1 out of 3 children dies before its fifth birthday.
57.3% of the died children (213) were younger than 1 year old. 27.7% is between the age of 1 to 5 when it dies.
Most baby’s and toddlers (32.9%) died of fever or malaria. Fever in combination with coughing (probably pneumonia) causes a mortality rate of 13.9%.
Diarrhea, icterus, prematures and pulmonary affections like tuberculosis, pneumonia and bronchitis also occur, but in smaller numbers.
In 12.7% of the dead infants the cause of death was unknown, according to the mother.
94.4% of the pregnant women give birth at home, whether or not with the presence of a traditional midwife .
14 children were born twins; 3 are still alive.

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