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West Papua leaders to talk with Pacific Island Forum

2 September, 2011

Three West Papuan leaders arrive to urge the Pacific Island Forum to highlight West Papua on its agenda

Three West Papuan leaders will be in Auckland next week to urge Pacific leaders to make plans for a fact-finding mission to Indonesian controlled West Papua to assess the human rights situation. They also want the Forum to support their call for a peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian Government and to grant West Papuan representatives observer status at their annual meetings.

All three will address a public meeting on Tuesday September 6, 7-30 pm at the MacLaurin Chapel, 18 Princes St, Auckland.

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is organising a’ Remember West Papua’ demonstration at the time of the Forum’s official opening on Wednesday morning 7 September – Quay St Close to the Cloud from 8-30 am.

Dr John Ondawame, Spokesperson for the West Papuan People’s Representative Office, Vanuatu, has lived in exile since he was forced to flee the conflict in Indonesian-occupied West Papua in the late 1970s. He has worked for peace and justice for his violence torn homeland ever since.

Rex Rumakiek, currently based in Australia, has also lived in exile for decades. He is the Secretary General for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPCNL) an umbrella grouping for resistance groups both inside and outside West Papua. Rex has taken a leading role in the region wide campaigns for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific and as an advocate for decolonisation for French Pacific territories as well as his homeland. He lobbied for West Papua at the United Nations for many years.

Both Rex and John have been proposed as possible negotiators for West Papua in a dialogue process with Indonesian Government representatives. Their names were put forward following a recent large peace conference in Jayapura, West Papua’s capital. Indonesia has not yet responded to the dialogue offer.

Paula Makabory is a human rights activist with the Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) (Australia) She now lives in Melbourne as outspoken advocacy for human rights has also forced her to live in exile. Paula was named as one of the 1000 international peace women nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2005

The human rights situation in West Papua continues to deteriorate. Leaked Indonesian military documents confirm that the West Papuan people live under conditions which are reminiscent of the East German stasi. A vast network of spies keeps track of activists, Church leaders, tribal heads and local villagers. It is estimated that some 100,000 lives have been lost to the 49 year conflict. Cases of torture are frequent.

The Forum must consider the deadliest conflict in the region if it wants to avoid being seen as little more than an irrelevant talk shop.

Ironically, more members of the Pacific community such as American Samoa are now likely to gain observer status at the Forum – why is West Papua, Melanesian neighbour to Papua New Guinea still excluded?

Dr John Ondawame arrives back in Auckland following a national tour on Friday September 2, Rex Rumakiek arrives on September 3 and Paula Makabory on September 4.

ENDS

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