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Government urged to act on evidence of use of incendiary weapons in West Papua

West Papua Action Auckland Media Release - December 22, 2018

The latest reports from West Papua reveal a shocking escalation of violence in West Papua. Incendiary weapons possibly white phosphorous are being used to bomb villages in the Nduga area of the Highlands.

No journalists or aid workers can get through- but just released images indicate a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. West Papua Action is calling on the Government to take immediate steps to call on the Indonesian President Joko Widodo to end this military operation and protect the lives of defenceless villagers. (https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326)

For further information: Maire Leadbeater 09815-9000 or 0274436957

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister
Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Dear Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters,

Authoritative reports state that the Indonesian military is using incendiary weapons against the Nduga people in the Central Highlands on West Papua. Photographs taken in the area show yellow-tipped bombs and military experts state that the weapons appear to be some type of incendiary or white phosphorous. An Indonesian soldier is reported as saying that troops are firing a type of gas on the villages. If the reports are confirmed then Indonesia is likely to be in breach of international law banning the use of such weapons. The New Zealand Government cannot turn aside from this shocking humanitarian crisis. (Please see the Australian Saturday Paper article from journalists Mark Davis and John Martinkus both long-term followers of West Papua issues: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326

White phosphorus burns through skin and flesh and it is near impossible to save someone once it becomes absorbed into the body. Villagers report that the bombs were dropped from the air from a helicopter. At least 7 people have died.

The Indonesian military is conducting an intense reprisal sweeping operation against the people in the wake of an armed attack on 2 December in which some 16 construction workers were killed. There is now an extremely dangerous escalation of violence impacting on the civilian population hundreds have fled their villages and gardens for the forest where they face starvation. We know of the situation through reports from Church workers and from the cell phone images taken by locals. No aid can gets through and no journalists are present to report.

We urge you in the strongest terms to act immediately to contact Indonesian President Joko Widodo and call on him to end this deadly military operation against the people of West Papua.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater
For West Papua Action Auckland

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