• Papuan activists hold banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia, 19 December 2016. (EPA)Source: EPA
EXCLUSIVE: A West Papuan activist based in Australia has praised Australia for allegedly providing material on the conflict in West Papua for defence force staff, but says Australia needs to do more for the province where he claims massacres and human rights abuses occur on a regular basis.
Rachael Hocking

6 Jan 2017 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 9 Jan 2017 - 11:59 AM

A West Papuan activist has described Indonesia as 'hyper-sensitive,' for its decision to suspend a language-training programme in Australia.

The Indonesian military suspended ties with their Australian counterparts for "technical reasons" after material on West Papua, where Indonesia has been accused of human rights abuses, was found by an Indonesian officer at an Australian Special Forces base in Perth late last year.

Speaking to NITV, activist Ronny Ato Bual Kareni said it’s disappointing that the Indonesian government is censoring a ‘human rights issue.’

“It’s a shame that the Indonesian government through their military will have to do that, because we’re living in the 21st century where it is vitally important that we care,” he said.

“If we do care for the rights of human beings, then Indonesia would have played a more pro-active role in addressing this issue.” 

"Putting that in the training materials, it is very essential and I belive this would be something the Australian government will have to consider and implement and translate in their foreign policies."

According to Indonesia's Military Chief Gatot Nurmantyo the materials not only referenced West Papua, but also East Timor.

"The curriculum and lessons, have always been the same. It is hurting (our feelings), I don't want to elaborate further as the offending teaching materials have been in place for a long time," he told reporters.

Australia’s army chief is reportedly being sent to Indonesia to apologise for the allegedly insulting documents, and deliver findings into his review of the incident.

Indonesia assumed control of West Papua after the Dutch colonial administration left in 1962. A previous agreement between the Netherlands Government and the United Nations to allow West Papua a vote on self-determination was reneged on. Indonesia has ruled the island since and has fought a lung running war against separatists who demand independence for the province.

Mr Kareni praised the Australian SAS for including the materials in their curriculum, but called for a more ‘moral stance’ from the Australian government.

“It is important that the Australian government plays this role in advocating and also continuing with Indonesia through this training.

“It is important to highlight the human rights issues,” Mr Kareni said.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said yesterday the Australian military was investigating the training materials and working to restore the relationship with Indonesia.

"The issue of West Papua was raised by the Indonesian Defence Minister, yes. I think he indicated that in his post-meeting comments," she told reporters.

"We of course, in accord with the Lombok Treaty, which is the treaty between Australia and Indonesia, recognise Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position."

Mr Kareni said if Australia is going to conduct an investigation, they should also conduct one into Indonesia’s human rights violations.

“Every day we hear killings, there is bloodshed, massacres that is happening, but none of those massacres have real independent investigations into them,” he said.

Indonesia last suspended military ties with Australia in 2013 over revelations that Australian spies had tapped the mobile telephone of then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.