Ardern urged to support West Papua at Pacific Islands Forum
8 August 2019
Media Release: Jacinda Ardern urged to support West Papua at Pacific Islands Forum
Next week Pacific leaders will discuss West Papua at their annual Forum. This year there is great hope that the Communiqué will include a call for action, including a call for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit and report back on the situation in West Papua to the 2020 Forum. Despite the gravity of the human rights situation in West Papua the Forum has in the past opted for a ‘softly softly ’ approach, deferring to powerful Indonesia rather than defending the rights of the Melanesian West Papuans. New Zealand’s role is likely to crucial and West Papua Action Auckland is calling on Jacinda Ardern to take moral leadership to help ensure that that the Forum does the right thing.
Letter to Jacinda Ardern is below.
4 August 2019
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Dear Prime Minister,
We note that you will be meeting with other Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Tuvalu from August 12.
The human rights situation in West Papua will be under consideration and has already been discussed by the region’s Foreign Ministers. The Foreign Ministers agreed that the Forum should continue to raising its concerns over escalating violence and continued allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua (Papua). The Foreign Ministers recommended maintaining dialogue with Indonesia and supported Indonesia’s invitation to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake a mission. It was stressed that there is a need to finalise the timing of the visit and to make every endeavour to provide a report on the situation before the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in 2020.
International organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Coalition for West Papua and the World Council of Churches continue to document evidence of on-going violence and human rights violations, including torture and extra-judicial killings. The Indonesian security forces in West Papua are not held accountable for their role in these crimes and continue to act with almost total impunity. At this moment there are alarming reports of dozens of deaths from famine and other illnesses in the Nduga area where displaced people have lost access to basic health food and education services.
It is essential that the Pacific Islands Forum leaders state their continuing commitment to encourage strong and prompt action to end the violence and human rights abuses in West Papua and to address their root causes. They must call for the Indonesian Government to finalise arrangements for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua to investigate the human rights situation promptly. The stakes are very high in a situation which is widely held to amount to ‘slow genocide’.
This is the moment for New Zealand, a founding member of the Forum, to show strong leadership on this issue. In the past the West Papua resolutions at the Forum have been ‘watered down’ after indirect and direct pressure from Indonesia. We urge you in the strongest terms to resist this pressure and to put the interests of the suffering people of West Papua as your priority.
Maire Leadbeater and Catherine Delahunty.
Copy to Hon Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs.