8 Dec 2008

Obama administration called to recognise opportunity to advance human rights in Indonesia

8:08 pm on 8 December 2008

An Australian academic says that by applying pressure on Jakarta the incoming Obama administration in the United States could help affect improvements to the situation in Indonesia's Papua region.

The convener of the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University, Jim Elmsie says the new US administration is a critical opportunity to improve the worsening situation in Papua.

This follows a call by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network for President Obama to restrict US military assistance to Jakarta again unless human rights violations in the Papua region by the Indonesian military are curbed.

But Jim Elmsie says it wouldn't require threats over withdrawing assistance to encourage more civilian control over the military in Papua.

"But I think even without any overt threats, they could just simply say that the way that the situation is progressing in West Papua is incompatible. I think just by applying pressure they could easily change the whole situation in West Papua."

Jim Elmsie