4 Apr 2005

Concerns over military build up in the Indonesian province of Papua

8:25 pm on 4 April 2005

A human rights groups says the Indonesian military's decision to increase the number of troops in Papua province could undermine efforts to find peace in the remote territory.

The UK-based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, or TAPOL, has written to British Foreign Minister Douglas Alexander, urging him to put pressure on Indonesia to halt ongoing military operations and end the build-up of troops in Papua.

Last month, the Commander-in-Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces announced a major enlargement of the country's military forces with the establishment of 22 new territorial commands.

In her letter to Mr Alexander, Tapol founder Carmel Budiardjo says the military build-up flies in the face of expectations that the TNI would cut back the number of territorial commands.

Mrs Budiardjo says the deployments will double the number of troops in Papua, to a total of 50,000 men.

She urges the British Government to push Indonesia to respond to the proposal from Papuan community leaders for Papua to become a Zone of Peace and to enter into dialogue regarding continuing conflicts and the future status of the province.