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Locke: Don't leave West Papua off Forum agenda

14 August, 2003

Locke: Don't leave West Papua off Forum agenda

Green MP is urging Helen Clark to ensure West Papua is discussed at the Pacific Island Forum.

"We should build on what was achieved at last year's Forum, when the communiqué expressed concern at the situation in West Papua," said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

"Vanuatu, in particular, has been taking West Papuan self-determination very seriously. It recently allowed a West Papuan embassy to be established in its capital.

"Helen Clark should listen closely to any to any initiatives the Vanuatu delegation proposes to the Forum.

"A Forum fact-finding delegation to West Papua would assist in developing an understanding of the human rights situation in that country, and what the Papuan people want.

"The Forum has a responsible to address the plight of West Papuans, a Pacific Melanesian people who have been denied their national rights for so many years.

"The Forum could also take a lead in advancing the international campaign to get the United Nations to review the so-called 1969 Act of Free Choice, under which West Papua was unjustly incorporated into Indonesia.

"We don't want to repeat the tragedy of East Timor, where New Zealand and other nations ignored the suffering of the people for so many years," said Mr Locke.

West Papuans and their supporters will be holding a vigil with West Papuan Morning Star flags outside the Sheraton Hotel venue of the Forum at 5.45pm tonight.

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