HRW: Obama should address West Papua abuses

HRW: Obama should address West Papua abuses Indonesia, North America, Pacific, USA, Videos, West Papua
November 20, 2011

Human rights organisations want US President Barack Obama to address abuses in Papua during his visit to Indonesia, activists say.

The call, headed by Human Rights Watch, the US-based rights group, comes after several months of unrest in the area.

One issue facing the Papuans is over their treatment by American mining company, Freeport. The mine workers earn an average of $1.50 per hour. They are demanding a rise of 300 per cent, whereas Freeport has only offered them a rise of 35 per cent.

As a result, Papuans have been protesting over their treatment by Freeport. They have been extracting gold from a broken pipeline that belongs to the company. 20 km of pipes were vandalised after thousands of minters went on a strike more than two months ago.

It has paralysed the mine and created a real gold rush.

Another issue is regarding the reaction of the government to a pro-independence gathering that took place last month. Security forces broke it up, leaving three people dead and over a hundred people injured.

When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern about abuses in Papua last week, the Indonesian government responded with irritation. Now with Obama visiting, Indonesia says Papua is not on the agenda, but many people believe it is an issue that cannot be avoided.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vassen reports from Papua.


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