Indonesia: Film on Papua abuse to screen at Venice
Jakarta, 4 Sept. (AKI) - A short film revealing alleged widespread abuse by the Indonesian army in Papua is to be screened at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.

The film, "West Papua - The Secret War in Asia", runs for 16 minutes and is designed to raise awareness about the powerful role of Indonesia and its security forces in the region.

"The aim is to make the European public more aware of the plight of the Papuans," film maker, Steffen Keulig, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Keulig is the author of several books and president of the German network of the Worldwide Network of Friends of People Close to Nature.

He said the video was the result of several visits he and other members made to Papua, the most eastern region of the Indonesian archipelago.

"Obviously we travelled as tourists," he said, emphasising that the region is still closed to journalists and non-governmental organisations.

Jakarta effectively closed Papua to the outside world several years ago and some sources claim Indonesian repression has cost at least 100,000 lives.

"We fight against the cruelty of the Indonesian government because our women are raped, our wealth is robbed and our environment is destroyed," said Jatom Joke, a student forced to flee several years after a clash with police.

In the film, viewed by AKI, Keulig and his colleagues show the precarious situation of Papuan refugees camped on the border of Papua New Guinea, the independent state to the east of Papua.

According to some estimates, there are more than 10,000 who have had no assistance and 'officially' do not exist.

"Why does God let us have children if we then see them killed like dogs by the Indonesians?" said Ester Elsye Gamee.

"We are forgotten people. We face many difficulties but no-one visits us, " said Arnold Gambirob, a refugee since 1984.

The film's screening in Venice will be followed by a discussion with Benny Wenda, one of the leaders of Papua's pro-independence movement.

Wenda claims to have been arrested and tortured by Indonesian police in 2002 before fleeing to Papua New Guinea and then England where he now lives as a political refugee.

Papua was integrated into Indonesia in 1969, but a small separatist group has battled for independence ever since and most of the population has peacefully opposed the integration.

Indonesian authorities are frequently accused of human rights abuses in the province.

In 2001 the Papua Province was granted special autonomy by the Indonesian government, however many Papuans claim the Indonesians are still conducting widespread human rights abuses.

The Indonesian government says that the autonomy arrangement specifically addresses the preservation of Papua culture.

But it has been resettling thousands of residents from other parts of Indonesia in a transmigration program was "designed specifically to help the locals through knowledge transfer".
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