Indonesia Bombs West Papua Villages, A ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ On Australia’s Doorstep

Kieran Adair

May 18, 2021

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Human rights groups have warned of a “humanitarian crisis” unfolding in West Papua, with Indonesian military forces targeting civilians and journalists as part of a crackdown in the region.

This week, Xenophon Davis was sent shocking details of a raid on the village of Iliaga, situated in the highlands of West Papua.

It’s alleged that the Indonesian air forces fired around 40 rockets on the village earlier this week – levelling it and forcing residents to flee into the surrounding jungles.

“In this attack, the Indonesia Airforces fired rocket bombs about 40 times on air attacks at Local residents… The Indonesian Security Forces also were attack residents villages and burning down the local residents houses, and churches” the OPM Free Papua Movement said in a statement.

Human Rights Papua has estimated that tens of thousands of villagers have been displaced by similar attacks since 2019, with at least four hundred dying from health impacts as a result.

Despite previously voicing concerns about these abuses, the Australian Government has continued to train the Indonesian military.

Australian troops training Indonesian forces.

Since it took formal control of West Papua in 1969, Indonesia has faced consistent charges of severe human rights abuses there – abuses against tribal people in remote valleys far from the glare of media and international observers.

The recent outbreak of violence was sparked last month, following the death of a senior Indonesia police chief in a shootout with the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA).

On 29 April, the WPNLA were formally declared terrorists by Indonesia’s minister of political, legal and security affairs.

Amnesty International has criticised the designation, saying the label was “vague and dangerous. Jakarta is declaring war in West Papua. Already many Papuans civilians accused of being freedom fighters are killed by the military. Now Indonesian forces have new licence to kill them – as terrorists.”

Despite its proximity, the conflict continues to go largely unreported in Australia and New Zealand apart from on SBS News and RNZ Pacific.

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Written By Kieran Adair

Kieran Adair is a reporter for Xenophon Davis, covering government accountability, civil liberties, and whistleblower trials. He has previously written for the Michael West, Guardian Australia, and Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Twitter: @kieranadair_

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