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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 18, 1999


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy today released a report entitled, "Incidents of Military Violence Against Indigenous Women in Irian Jaya (West Papua), Indonesia."

The report describes violence in recent years against indigenous Papuan women and girls by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI), including Kopassus troops under the command of former Lt. General Prabowo Subianto, son-in-law of former Indonesian President Suharto. The cases and analysis demonstrate the links between violence against women and the economic and development policies of the Indonesian state, particularly the encouragement and protection of mining interests in Irian Jaya's Central Highlands, where the documented abuses occurred. A Kopassus Lt. Commander, quoted in the report, said, "The military is [in Irian Jaya's Central Highlands] to make sure that investors can come in."

(The full report is available on the RFK Memorial Website at http://www.rfkmemorial/center/vaw-report.htm.)

As detailed in the report, victims included girls of 3 years and 11 years of age and two elderly women, aged 50 and 60. In one incident, soldiers took photographs as they gang raped a 25-year-old woman while she held her infant child.

The report also presents information not included in earlier reports about the cases of two women living within the mining project area of PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the New Orleans-based multinational mining company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. The two women were detained for a month and interrogated and tortured by soldiers. They were held in a toilet room, flooded with water containing human feces.

The Indonesian authorities have not fully investigated these cases, prosecuted the perpetrators or compensated the victims. In her public report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights 55th Session (March-April 1999), U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy concluded that:

* Before May 1998, the Indonesian security forces used rape "as an instrument of torture and intimidation" in Irian Jaya, Aceh and East Timor, and "torture of women detained by the Indonesian security forces was widespread," especially in those three areas;

* "A thorough and impartial investigation into the use of rape as a method of torture and intimidation by the military in Irian Jaya is imperative;" and

* "Human rights abuses continue to occur even under the new regime."

The incidents outlined in the RFK/IHRSTAD report demonstrate that the Indonesian government has failed to meet its obligations under the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and under customary international law, particularly as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The RFK Center and IHRSTAD call on the Indonesian government to take the following urgent steps to address violence against women by the Indonesian Armed Forces.

1. The Indonesian government and armed forces should ensure that troops refrain from all human rights violations, including acts of violence against women, particularly:

* during operations to free 11 hostages allegedly taken in May 1999 by the

Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM, or Free Papua Movement) in the border town of Arso;

* in connection with Indonesian military and police actions to shut down public discussion of the National Dialogue on Irian Jaya; and

* in connection with the June 7 national elections, which Papuan community leaders have stated they will boycott.

2. Human rights guidelines for the Kodam VIII/Trikora area, originally established in November 1995, should be reaffirmed and vigorously enforced. This should include the establishment of an effective system whereby military personnel can report violations without fear of reprisal. Furthermore, the military should establish such guidelines for its military personnel throughout Indonesia. Authorities should educate all personnel as to the substance and importance of the guidelines and the consequences if they are violated.

3. The military should not be used to safeguard economic operations.

4. The Ministry of Justice should initiate an investigation and support the prosecution of those military personnel responsible for rapes and other violence against women in Irian Jaya.

5. The Indonesian government should immediately allow unrestricted access to the Central Highlands and other parts of Irian Jaya by independent human rights monitors.

6. The government should specifically order the removal of all military forces stationed in the Central Highlands areas described in the report. In general, "Daerah Operasi Militer" (DOM) or "Military Operations Area" and "Critical Control Area" status for Irian Jaya should be fully revoked, and troops should be confined to barracks.

7. The government of Indonesia should carry out its commitment to pursue the National Dialogue on Irian Jaya and to ensure the full and democratic participation of all Papuans. It should specifically ensure the inclusion of Papuan women's perspectives and interests.

The full report is available on the RFK Memorial Website at: http://www.rfkmemorial/center/vaw-report.htm For additional information: Chris Felley Project Assistant for Asia and the Middle East Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights 1367 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20036 TEL: 202/463-7575, ext. 226 FAX: 202/463-6606

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

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