ICJ calls for official inquiry into Biak massacre
International Commission of Jurists calls for Indonesian Government to hold independent inquiry into Biak massacre.
The Australian president of the International Commission of Jurists is calling for the Indonesian Government to hold an inquiry into the massacre on the West Papuan island of Biak 15 years ago.
In July 1998, Indonesian soldiers launched a dawn attack on Papuans who had staged a peaceful demonstration calling for independence.
The University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies hosted a citizens' tribunal in July this year and it has now released its findings, saying scores
of unarmed civilians were killed, buried in mass graves, or dumped at sea.
It also found people were beaten, tortured, arbitrarily detained and sexually abused.
The tribunal's presiding jurist, John Dowd, told Amelia Langford that justice must be served.
JOHN DOWD: We believe that there should be an inquiry set up in Indonesia to ensure there's a proper investigation to find who was responsible, but most importantly to deter armed forces from doing this sort of thing again in West Papua or otherwise.
AMELIA LANGFORD: And who does the tribunal recommend undertake this enquiry?
JD: We will put together all of the evidence that was taken, the documentary evidence, and give it within the course of some weeks to the Indonesian government, to the Australian government and to the US government because they are people that train and assist the Indonesian military, and it will be up to the Indonesians to comply with our requirements.
AL: And are you optimistic that the Indonesians will comply with this?
JD: We're optimistic that we've done the best that we can to bring it to their attention and we've asked the governments who train their soldiers - the Australians and Americans - that they will bring pressure to bear on the Indonesians to find out who's responsible and if there's any compensation to be made to the families of those that were killed and mutilated.
AL: So the tribunal is basically saying 'Justice hasn't been served yet. We can't move on'?
JD: That's right. Not only has justice not been served there's clearly been a policy of cover-up and cover-up doesn't help anybody including the Indonesian military. We want them to know that this sort of conduct cannot occur in the future and that's why we want proper penalties, proper hearings, to see that justice is done.
AL: Now, how long do you think this could take?
JD: The Balibo Inquiry, it took us 31 years to get the coroner's inquest into the murders that occurred then. We obviously want it as soon as possible, but it will take many months for this to be placed before the Indonesian government to see what sort of response they give us.
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