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West Papua firmly on Pacific Islands Forum agenda

West Papua firmly on Pacific Islands Forum agenda

Leaders of the Pacific people of West Papua attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland have welcomed the Forum's continued interest in their struggle for self-determination and human rights.

"While we hoped that the leaders would have agreed to grant West Papua observer status, we believe we have made considerable progress in raising awareness of the situation in our country and are grateful to our Pacific neighbours for their understanding of our desperate plight, " said Dr John Ondawame, spokesperson for the West Papuan leaders.

In their communiqué issued today Forum leaders expressed concern about the human rights situation in West Papua and called for the perpetrators of serious crimes committed in the territory to be brought to justice.

"We urge the Forum leaders to take the next step and call on Indonesia to enter into a process of peaceful dialogue to consider all options for the future of the territory," added Dr Ondawame.

At the 2003 Forum the West Papuan struggle achieved a significantly higher profile than at any previous Forum and added immensely to the momentum of the West Papua cause.

"No Forum participant was left unaware of our demands, and we were impressed by the serious attention given to our struggle by many leaders, the Auckland public and Pacific NGOs *" said Dr Ondawame.

" In particular I would like to express our deep appreciation to Vanuatu for its contribution and support during the Forum."

West Papuan leaders will continue to press their Pacific neighbours to support widespread demands for the United Nations to review its conduct at the time of the fraudulent Act of Free Choice in West Papua in 1969 and for West Papua to be re-inscribed on the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

* The Civil Society Forum held on August 15 at the Pacific Forum, was broadly representative of Pacific NGOs and co-ordinated by Coalition for International Development. This Forum formally endorsed the West Papuan call for Forum observer status, for the UN Review and re-inscription on the UN list of non-self-governing countries.

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