November 11, 2011
Indonesia rejected allegations of human rights violations in Papua province on Friday, hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized abuses in the restive region.
"As far as the politics of Papua go, we've already made it clear that there are no systemic human rights violations in Papua. There are only isolated incidents, they are not the norm," presidential spokesmen Teuku Faizasyah told AFP.
Jakarta has faced a low-level insurgency in Papua ever since its 1969 takeover of the vast, mineral-rich territory which borders Papua New Guinea and has its own ethnically distinct population.
At least 11 people were killed last month amid a long workers' strike at a mine owned by US company Freeport McMoRan and a clash with security forces at a pro-independence rally.
Clinton, who arrives next week for a regional summit on the Indonesian island of Bali with President Barack Obama, said Washington had "very directly raised our concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights" in Papua.
"There needs to be continuing dialogue and political reforms in order to meet the legitimate needs of the Papua people, and we will be raising that again directly and encouraging that kind of approach," Clinton said at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu, Hawaii.
On Friday, Australia-based activist group West Papua Media posted videos of what it said was a crackdown on an independence rally in October in which rights groups say at least three people were killed.
It showed armed Indonesian security forces shooting at protestors wearing the colours of the outlawed separatist flag, and beating children.
Police had earlier said they had only fired warning shots in the air after a group of Papuan leaders declared independence and raised the separatist flag, an offence that carries a maximum life jail sentence in Indonesia.
The remote eastern region is off limits to foreign journalists.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Wednesday he would open a dialogue with Papuan leaders to discuss development and prosperity, but not self-determination.
Washington and Jakarta have strengthened ties in recent years, signing new trade agreements and strengthening military and anti--terror cooperation.
(as read in the JG)