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PM Urged To Ensure West Papua Is On The Agenda

Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Box 68 419,
Auckland


18 October, 2006

Media Release: NGOs urge Prime Minister to ensure that West Papua is on the Pacific Island Forum agenda.

Over 30 aid and development and advocacy organizations, have joined together to lobby the Prime Minister about West Papua on the eve of her departure for the Pacific Islands Forum. The groups which include OXFAM, Council for International Development, Pax Christi and Christian World Service are appealing to the Prime Minister to take a pro-active role to ensure that the Pacific leaders deliberate on the ongoing human rights violations in West Papua.

"We believe that Helen Clark has a particular responsibility to ensure that discussion on Indonesian controlled West Papua does not slip below the radar. The West Papuan people have placed their faith in New Zealand's ability to take a principled stand without being diverted by possible controversy or the fear of offending Indonesia," said Maire Leadbeater for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee which coordinated the signatures.

The appeal advocates that the Forum grant West Papuan representatives observer status in view of the new policy to make the Forum inclusive of all countries in the region. West Papua is part of the Pacific region in terms of its geography, its history and its culture.

The letter cites recent grave examples of security force violence against civilians as well as the ongoing impunity of the military and police for past abuses.

"In the case of West Papua human rights abuses are not just about direct killing of civilians but also about 'indirect' threats from an out of control epidemic of HIV/AIDs, dire poverty, food shortages and outbreaks of deadly diseases. There are also major environmental threats from illegal logging and the shocking impact of the miles of toxic waste from the Freeport McMoran gold mine.'

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has also written individually to all of the 16 Pacific leaders who will be attending the Forum calling for them to advocate a process of peaceful dialogue between West Papua and Indonesia and to seek Indonesian support for a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua. This appeal also calls on the Forum leaders to support the campaign for a Review of the UN role in West Papua at the time of the 1969 'Act of Free Choice'.


Ends

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