Men at center of alleged PNG-Indonesia collaboration granted bail

30/12/2011 20:53

Abraham Kareni:  "I couldn’t explain because he didn’t respond with

words but with his fists". Picture courtesy of West Papua Media Alerts


Four men at the centre of allegations that Papua New Guinea authorities arrested them at the request of Indonesia have been granted bail.

West Papuans Abraham Kareni, Jude Kambuaya and Esboren Fonataba and Papua New Guinean Anton Toto were arrested by PNG police and customs officials and held at the Boram jail in the East Sepik province since November 17. The West Papuans are long-time PNG residents.

However, it is understood the men were granted bail on Thursday and will appear before the Wewak district court on January 9. They will be represented by Wewak-based law firm MS Wagambie Lawyers.

According to West Papua Media Alerts, a pro-West Papuan media umbrella group, the four men were fleeing a crackdown by Indonesian authorities that targeted West Papuans and pro-independence activists who attended the Third Papuan People’s Congress in October.

Indonesian security forces reportedly stormed the summit resulting in the death of six people and the detaining of hundreds more, triggering condemnation by churches and human rights organisations.

Mr Kareni has alleged that he was assaulted when he was arrested in a joint-police and customs operation on November 16 after their return from West Papua.

“The policeman slapped me. He didn’t talk to me in a proper way. When he asked me questions he just hit me straight away, left, right. I wanted to explain my journey to the policeman but I couldn’t explain because he didn’t respond with words but with his fists,” Mr Kareni said in a video interview posted on the West Papua Media Alerts website.

Mr Kareni witnessed the storming of the conference in Adepura, West Papua and relatives believe his imprisonment by PNG authorities was at the request of the Indonesian government.

The brutality allegations levelled against the police coincide with a recent appeal by PNG politician and West Papuan sympathiser Powes Parkop to the PNG parliament to take up West Papua’s case.

Mr Parkop decried PNG’s continued failure to bring global attention to the plight of West Papuans and their push for self-determination.

“The island is a complete island starting from Surang to Samarai but we seem to be pretending not to know anything about the plight of our relatives on the other side. It is about time PNG raise the concern at international forums about human rights abuse and the rights for self-determination of the people of West Papua,” he told parliament reports local daily National.

However officials from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said PNG’s position on West Papua is unlikely to change and will continue to be dictated by the two neighbouring countries’ various bilateral agreements including the Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Cooperation.

“Given we share a common land and sea border with Indonesia this has always influenced PNG's strategic thought, (though) fears of tensions escalating from border conflicts and possible insurgencies spilling onto PNG's poorly manned borders would affect us economically, politically and socially,” one of the officials said.

The policy means PNG’s position on clashes between Indonesian armed forces and pro-independence fighters and supporters would be considered internal matters for Indonesia, despite its impact on its poorly manned 750 km land border.