Conflict & Justice

Hillary Clinton wants "reforms" in restive Papua


A Papuan man with his face painted with the 'free Papua' flag takes part in a protest in Jakarta on December 1, 2008. Thousands also protested amid tight security across Indonesia's vast Papua region to call for independence from Jakarta.



Papua, a jungled and remote province of Indonesia, doesn't make headlines much. Nor does it attract much attention from U.S. diplomats.

But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pressuring the Indonesian government to make "reforms" in the province.

At a recent protest, a group of Papuan independence leaders called for autonomy, an end to persecution and even their own currency. Security forces responded by, in the words of one observer, beating protesters "black and blue."

Both Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama will fly to Indonesia next week. According to Agence France Presse, the White House has already ""very directly raised our concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights."

They may not make too much headway. The Indonesian government has responded by insisting that there are "no systemic human rights violations in Papua. There are only isolated incidents, they are not the norm."