Papuans occupy Australian Bali consulate ahead of APEC

October 6, 2013 8:33 am
 Indonesian soldiers patrol near the venue of APEC summit in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on October 1, 2013/AFP
Indonesian soldiers patrol near the venue of APEC summit in Nusa Dua on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on October 1, 2013/AFP

, Denpasar October 6- Three Papuan activists occupied the Australian consulate in Bali overnight, calling for Jakarta to be pressured on human rights ahead of the APEC leaders’ summit on the Indonesian island, officials said Sunday.

The trio, Markus Jerewon, Yuvensius Goo and Rofinus Yanggam, scaled the mission’s walls to get inside to demand Australia, the United States and Japan pressure Indonesia over rights in the restive Papua region.

“It was not difficult getting in. We climbed a tree next to a wall and then jumped in,” Yanggam told AFP by phone.

“The APEC summit is a golden opportunity for us to let the world know what’s going on in Papua. We want the leaders from these countries to pressure Indonesia to release Papuan political prisoners.”

Yanggam also called for the international press to be allowed free access into Papua, where armed militants have for decades fought an insurgency on behalf of the mostly ethnic Melanesian population in Papua.

Foreign journalists are not currently allowed to enter Papua, in eastern Indonesia, without receiving special permission from the Indonesian government and requests are often denied.

“We came in peace. We are not troublemakers,” he added.

Yanggam said the trio left the consulate in the Balinese capital Denpasar voluntarily, adding they were now going to rest and have some food in the city.

He said they were not questioned by police or arrested.

Australia’s foreign office said “three individuals from Indonesia’s Papua provinces delivered a protest letter at the Australian Consulate General in Bali this morning to Australia’s Consul General,” making no mention of their method of arrival.

“The three men left the Consulate voluntarily before 7am,” a foreign office spokesman told AFP.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb told reporters at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Bali that the activists had “left voluntarily so the matter’s been resolved”.

The trio had ended their protest letter with the phrase “we seek refuge and plead for our safety” but Robb said they had not sought asylum.

The incident came ahead of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s arrival in Bali for the APEC leaders’ summit which will be held on Monday.

In their protest letter, the men demanded that Abbott, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Secretary of State John Kerry pressure Indonesia on Papuan rights.

“We want these leaders to persuade the Indonesian government to treat Papuan people better,” the letter said, demanding the release of political prisoners.

“These political prisoners committed no crime. They are explicitly committed to non violence. The Indonesian government arrested and jailed them for discussing their political human rights beliefs.”

Indonesian security forces have repeatedly faced allegations of torturing political activists in the restive Papua region.


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