Jumat, 24 September 2010

US calls on Indonesia to advance Papua autonomy

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Wed Sep 22, 8:35 pm ET

US calls on Indonesia to advance Papua autonomyAFP/Getty Images/File – Eni Faleomavaega (pictured) represents American Samoa and has long taken an interest in the Indonesian …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States called Wednesday for Indonesia to move forward on autonomy in its Papua region and insisted it would not overlook human rights as it seeks broader relations with Jakarta.

Testifying in a first-ever congressional hearing on the long-simmering conflict, senior US officials pledged to investigate abuse allegations in Papua but said there was no evidence to back charges of genocide.

Indonesia in 2001 introduced autonomy in Papua -- a vast, mineral-rich province that shares an island with Papua New Guinea -- but local activists say that the law has been implemented only partially and not improved their rights.

Joseph Yun, the US deputy assistant secretary of state tasked with Southeast Asia, said that a more thorough devolution to Papua and neighboring West Papua could ease, although not end, the region's grievances.

"If the 2001 Special Autonomy Law can be fully implemented, we believe that a lot of frustration currently felt by Papuans would decrease," Yun said, while stating that the United States opposes separatism in the region.

"While Indonesia's overall human rights situation has improved along with the country's rapid democratic development, we are concerned by allegations of human rights violations in Papua and continuously monitor the situation," he said.

President Barack Obama's administration has identified Indonesia as a priority, believing that the archipelago's size, democratization and moderate brand of Islam make it an ideal US partner.

Indonesia took over Papua in 1969 and has faced a low-level insurgency. Human Rights Watch says thatIndonesian forces have pursued indiscriminate sweeps on villages, sometimes killing civilians, and imprisoned activists for peaceful expression.

The congressional hearing was called by Eni Faleomavaega, who represents American Samoa and has long taken an interest in Papua. In an unusual scene for staid Capitol Hill, the congressman invited Papuans wearing feathered headgear to perform a traditional dance with drums at the hearing's onset.

Faleomavaega said he considered Jakarta to be waging "genocide" against Papuans, who in contrast to most Indonesians are ethnically Melanesian.

"It is indisputable fact that Indonesia has deliberately and systematically committed crimes against humanity and has yet to be held accountable," he said.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com

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