Visit of John Ondawame - Free West Papua Movement
Indonesia Human Rights Committee,
8 October, 2000
Media Release: Visit of John Ondawame International Representative of the Free West Papua Movement (OPM)
As violence and bloodshed is escalating between the Indonesian security forces and the people of West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) a spokesperson for the independence movement is due to begin a nationwide speaking tour. John Otto Ondawame, OPM international representative, arrives in New Zealand on Friday October 13, 2000. John has been in exile since 1978 when he was forced to flee from Papua New Guinea after the breakdown of peace negotiations.
West Papua, currently a province of Indonesia, takes up half of the island of New Guinea - the other half is the sovereign country of Papua New Guinea.
There were at least 30 deaths yesterday in renewed clashes between the independence movement and the security forces. The violence was triggered by a police operation to remove the independence 'Morning Star' flag. Indonesia and its military have controlled West Papua since 1963, their takeover "justified" by a 1969 'Act of Free Choice' which is now widely accepted as an orchestrated farce. Since East Timor gained its freedom, the West Papuan movement has gained new vigour. In June this year a broad based C ongress concluded with an independence declaration which was promptly rejected by Jakarta. An ominous development is the deployment of East Timor style militia paramilitary gangs.
John Ondawame is an Amungme, a member of the tribe which has been displaced by the U.S. controlled Freeport McMoRan gold and copper mine - the world's largest.
John will address public meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, Whangarei,
Christchurch and Dunedin. He is scheduled to meet politicians, unionists, church leaders,
human rights activists and Maori organisations.
After a brief stay in Auckland from the time of his arrival on the afternoon of October 13, John will travel to Wellington to address the Alliance Conference on October 14. His main public meetings are as follows:
Palmerston North: Tuesday 17 October, Open Learning Centre, 181 The Square, 5-30 pm
Wellington: Wednesday 18 October, St Andrews on the Terrace, 7 pm
Christchurch: Thursday 19 October, Trade Union Centre, 199 Armagh St, 8 p.m.
Auckland: Tuesday 24 October, Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, 7-30 pm, and University of Auckland, 11 Symonds St, 1 p.m.
Whangarei: Wednesday 25 October, St Johns Church 149 Kamo Rd, Kensington, 7 p.m
for further information and to arrange an interview: Maire Leadbeater (09) 376-9098 cell phone: (025) 436-957, or Mark Derby (04) 939-1215 mobile (025) 279-0491