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West Papua activists call on Prime Minister for action

West Papua solidarity activists met yesterday and resolved to call on the Prime Minister to step up to help resolve the escalating crisis in West Papua.

‘Right now there is an uprising of Papuan resistance to Indonesian rule in response to racist attacks and ongoing repression. However, the Indonesian government’s response has been to send more troops and close the internet,’ said Maire Leadbeater speaking for West Papua Action Auckland.

The Pacific Islands Forum recently agreed to urge Indonesia to follow through on its promise to host a UN human rights monitoring team. New Zealand must now take leadership to ensure that this happens without delay and that the territory is opened to international media. The internet close-down must end. ‘The level of state violence and the fostering of contempt and abuse against West Papuans is provocative and dehumanising, New Zealand Govt silence on this cannot continue,’ said Maire Leadbeater.
Letter follows.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

24 August 2019

Dear Prime Minister

We have been deeply shocked to learn of the outbreak of racist violence and despicable verbal abuse directed at West Papuan students across Indonesia on August 17 and subsequently. It is clear from the reports that the violent mobs or militia groups who terrorised the students in their dormitories in Surabaya and Malang were working in concert with the security forces. In Surabaya students were subjected to rock throwing, racist taunts, and tear gas. Then 43 students were arrested, ostensibly for disrespecting an Indonesian flag –an incident the students deny.

The Indonesian Government must accept responsibility for the widespread unrest that has followed in at least ten West Papuan centres and in many cities in Java, Sulawesi and Maluku. So far no perpetrator has been held accountable. These latest attacks and atrocious insults - including referring to the students as ‘monkeys’ - must be seen in context. The Papuan people have suffered ongoing human rights violations and social and economic marginalisation ever since Indonesia took control of the territory more than five decades ago.

It is entirely understandable that the people of West Papua are renewing their calls for self-determination in the light of these violations of their fundamental rights and dignity. Indonesia’s draconian response of sending in more security forces and closing down internet access will have the effect of deepening the crisis.

We call on you to take urgent action to defend the rights of our Pacific neighbours. We urge you to call on the Indonesian authorities to admit United Nations human rights monitors – in line with the recent Pacific Islands Forum resolution. We also urge you to urge Indonesia to open up the territory to the international media.

Maire Leadbeater and several other activists

Signed at the West Papua Desk, 120 Church St, Onehunga on 24 August 2019.


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