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NZ ‘not doing enough’ over West Papua crisis

NZ ‘not doing enough’ over West Papua crisis

By Dianna Vezich: Story and image courtesy of Te Waha Nui Online


The New Zealand Government and media are not doing enough to expose “potential genocide” in West Papua, says Indonesian Human Rights Committee spokesperson Maire Leadbeater.

At a weekend West Papua human rights conference held at AUT University, she said New Zealand was able to play a key mediation role in resolving conflict in the troubled province.

Del Abcede Human rights campaigners from Australia at AUT: Joe Collins (from left), Dr Anne Noonan and John Wing Photo: Del Abcede.

New Zealand has not contributed a lot to helping its Pacific neighbours, the West Papuans, deal with the problems under tight Indonesian rule.

In 2002, then Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff mentioned the idea of New Zealand acting as a mediator in West Papua.

“Almost as soon as Goff uttered those words he backed down, saying it could only happen if both Indonesia and West Papua agreed. We would be waiting an awful long time if we waited for Jakarta to initiate it,” said Leadbeater.

Current Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has shown little interest in the needs of West Papuans. He turned down meeting with speakers at the conference such as visiting West Papuan Baptist leader Rev Socratez Sofyan Yoman.

“The New Zealand Government should call on Jakarta to open the way for the West Papuan request for dialogue,” said Leadbeater.

Keynote speaker at the conference, Rev Yoman said his people were not happy and wanted peace and equality.

Rev Yoman also wanted New Zealand to raise the oppressive situation in West Papua with the United Nations.

“They have to stop them killing us, killing the Papuans, killing our land,” he said.

Problem for journalists
It is difficult for journalists or foreign diplomats to obtain visas to visit West Papua.

Leadbeater was surprised that New Zealand’s mainstream media did not use the opportunity to hear Rev Yoman.

He is a West Papuan Baptist leader who has campaigned extensively for peace and justice in his country.

The only media to report on the conference were Radio NZ International, Triangle TV and journalism students from AUT University reporting for Te Waha Nui Online and Radio Static.

This is not the case in Australia with the issue of West Papua receiving coverage in mainstream newspapers.

John Wing, a speaker at the conference and coordinator of the West Papua project at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, said there was a segment on the SBS television current affairs programme Dateline focused on the genocide allegations.

Wing is highly concerned about the problems in West Papua, such as threats from the Indonesian military, large-scale migration from Indonesia and the HIV/Aids explosion.

His recent report, Genocide in West Papua, outlines examples of social conflict in Papuan towns and cities from 2003-2005.

  • For more on this issue, see… NZ ‘not doing enough’ over West Papua crisis - Te Waha Nui Online
  • ENDS

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