The week before he visits Indonesia, US President Barack Obama has been urged to end military assistance to the country’s government.
The comments were made today (4 November) by the human rights organisation Survival International. They are one of a number of organisations to accuse the Indonesian regime of killing and torturing people in West Papua, where an independence movement is being brutally suppressed.
Obama’s visit comes shortly after the emergence of shocking video footage showing soldiers torturing two villagers in the West Papuan highlands. The Indonesian government has admitted that the torturers were its soldiers.
Survival International has sent a copy of the torture video to Obama. The video is one of many 'trophy' videos and photos taken by Indonesian soldiers, who have a long history of human rights abuses in West Papua.
In July this year, Obama triggered controversy by lifting the ban on assistance to Indonesia’s notorious elite special forces, Kopassus. Kopassus had been barred from receiving US military aid for more than a decade because of human rights abuses including killings, disappearances and torture.
Survival’s US director Tess Thackara has urged Obama to call on the regime in Jakarta to end the very serious human rights abuses in the region and to bring those responsible to justice.
“For decades, the tribal people of West Papua have suffered appalling violence at the hands of the Indonesian military,” said Thackara, “Instead of increasing US assistance, President Obama should be using his influence to put a stop to the abuse”.