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Papua: Human Rights Focus In AUT Seminar

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By Dianna Vezich

AUCKLAND (Te Waha Nui Online/Pacific Media Watch): Advocacy groups and campaigners have organised an international conference to focus on the suffering in their neighbouring Pacific countries this weekend.

A two-day conference at AUT University on August 18-19 will focus on the plight of West Papua, an Indonesian-ruled territory since 1963.

Organised by the Indonesian Human Rights Committee, the West Papua human rights conference will examine the situation in the Pacific colony.

“It’s very much an oppressive situation and the Indonesian military has a heavy presence in West Papua,” says Maire Leadbeater, spokesperson of the IHRC.

Environmental devastation is also a major concern among West Papuans.

Large international corporations are involved in illegal logging in the country and in exploitation of the largest gold mine in the world at Freeport.

One of the key speakers at the conference is Baptist leader Rev Socratez Sofyan Yoman, one of many West Papuans threatened and harassed by the military and police intelligence officers.

He has travelled internationally to protest for justice and human rights in his country.

Another important speaker is John Wing, coordinator of the West Papua project at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Leadbeater emphasises that West Papuans want peace in their homeland.

“Their simple demand is dialogue. They’re not asking for self-determination overnight,” she says.

She believes peace will occur when there is demilitarisation in West Papua.

West Papua news website at AUT and programme:




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