Australia on Indonesia’s radar in hunt for pro-Papuan human rights lawyer


As unrest intensifies in West Papua, Indonesia has asked for Australia's assistance to detain human rights lawyer and pro-Papuan activist Veronica Koman.

Watch Above: Veronica Koman outlines her mission to help West Papuans.

Indonesia has called on the Australian Federal Police to help find Human Rights lawyer Veronica Koman, who they believe might be in Australia. The pro-Papuan activist could face an Interpol Red Notice from Indonesian authorities, who are accusing Ms Koman of spreading hoaxes and inciting protests.

A Red Notice is a request to worldwide law enforcement agencies to locate and provisionally arrest a person, pending extradition to the country issuing the notice.

In the days following the publication of Dateline’s story about Ms Koman’s activism, a protest was staged outside an Australian consulate in Surabaya, Indonesia.  

Ms Koman also took to her public Facebook page to assert that Indonesia’s accusations about her are fabricated, and that the Indonesian police have overstepped their authority.

"For years, the Indonesian government has allocated more time and energy to waging a propaganda war than it has to investigating and ending human rights abuses in West Papua,” she wrote on Sunday night.

“My criminalisation is nothing more than the continuation of a longstanding strategy to prevent information leaking out to the rest of the world.”

SBS has contacted the Home Affairs department, which said it does not comment on individual cases. The Indonesian embassy failed to respond to our request for comment and the Australian Federal Police did not respond by the time of publication.

New footage has emerged of the intense military presence in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, showing heavily-armed Indonesian paramilitary officers patrolling the streets of the Papuan capital Jayapura.

The soldiers greet children and even pose for photos. But Papuans say that cordiality in stark contrast to the intimidation tactics their people are facing.

"They are sweeping from door to door at people's house in Jaypura, in Sentani and in Abepura,” Victor Teimo, West Papua’s National Committee told SBS World News.

“At night, the Special Forces are using private cars to monitor people.”

Foreigners are banned from visiting the region, and activists, journalists and human rights lawyers say they've faced threats and intimidation.

Today in the Yapen regency, a peaceful protest against racism and a call for an independence referendum saw three people arrested and the crowd dispersed by security officers.

Among those now in jail is a young West Papuan mother who was arrested for carrying a number of the small West Papuan 'Morning Star' flags.

"They think that the people of West Papua is stupid so they can easily be influenced by Jakarta. Indonesia treat us like animal […]. Every day people arrested, dying and our national resources being exploit[ed],” Mr Teimo said.

Indonesia has told the United Nations it has no intention of giving in to the demands of Papuan protesters for a referendum, pointing to a vote in 1969 vote which many observers have since described as a sham.

"In accordance with international law, the referendum has been legally carried out and final, and therefore it is never possible anywhere to be repeated,” Indonesian Ambassador to the UN Hasan Kleib said in Geneva last w