July 31, 2007

West Papua: Open Letter to Indonesian President

In an open letter to the Indonesian President, the Australia West Papua Association expressed deep concern about the fate of the head of the Papuan Baptist church

In an open letter to the Indonesian President, the Australia West Papua Association expressed deep concern about the fate of the head of the Papuan Baptist church.

Below is a letter written by Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association:

Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,

On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), I am writing to you with great concern for the safety of the Reverend Socretez Sofian Yoman, who is head of the Baptist Church in West Papua

The Rev Socretez Sofian Yoman is a human rights advocate and has worked tirelessly to improve the human rights situation in West Papua. The Rev Socretez Sofian Yoman has been critical of the behavior of the security forces and because of this he has been intimated by the military, police and members of the intelligence community.

We are increasingly concerned for Rev Yoman¹s personal safety as he has been receiving a large number of threats and intimidation by telephone and text in recent times. He was also threatened at gun point. Rev Yoman reported that a pistol was pointed directly at him and he was verbally threatened after a church service in Jayapura on Sunday [29 July 2007].

This intimidation has not only being confined to Rev Yoman but also to a number of individuals and organisations in both West Papua and Yogyakarta. We believe there is a systematic campaign by the military and police to intimidate any individual or organisation whom they (the military and police) deem to be separatists even do they are only raising concerns about the human rights situation.

The intimidation of West Papuan students and NGO organisations by the security forces will only lead to an increase in tension and instability in West Papua. We urge you to guarantee the safety of Rev Sofian Yoman and urge you to control the military and police in West Papua and ordered them to return to barracks as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)