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Update: West Papua

13 August 2001

Kia ora,

as you may be aware, the South Pacific Forum, meeting in Nauru this week, will not have observers from West Papua present. At last year's Forum meeting, West Papuan representatives were present (included in the Nauru delegation); and the final Forum communique urged West Papuan and Indonesian leaders to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.

Commenting on the inclusion of Indonesian observers at this year's Forum meeting, Franzalbert Joku (Papua Council Presidium spokesperson) said "It appears that we are now being persuaded to believe such dialogue is possible by just having the Indonesians at the Forum". Further, "Is the Forum now suggesting that peaceful dialogue is off the agenda? If so, what options are there? Armed rebellion?"

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre has just issued a background briefing paper on West Papua - the summary is included below. As it is a rather lengthy paper we are not circulating it in full, so please let us know if you wish to be sent the full briefing.

PCEC Briefing Paper on West Papua 2001


All who have witnessed Indonesia's human rights violations against the West Papuan expression of self determination have applauded the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders expression of "deep concern" about the state of violence in West Papua. Forum leaders in Kiribati, October 2000, further called on the Indonesian government and the people of West Papua to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation. Leaders also urged all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents of West Papua, and welcomed closer dialogue with the Government of Indonesia on issues of common concern.

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But what happens when the Indonesian Government as the decolonising power in West Papua continues to neglect her responsibility in initiating dialogue with the Papua Presidium Council, which is spearheading the self-determination process? What should be the role of the Pacific Island Forum in facilitating such a dialogue through the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation?

The Forum has added Indonesia on its list of dialogue partners, but since the last Forum meeting in Kiribati, Indonesia has: - Banned the raising of the West Papuan Morning Star flag, - Arrested and charged the Chairman and four members of the Papua Presidium Council with treason and secession, - Turned a blind eye to killings and human rights violations by its security forces - Increased the number of military battalions stationed in West Papua - Ignoring the training and arming of anti-independence militia to carry out political and military violence against the very people whom Indonesia claims responsibility to protect - Trying to push through a controversial "special autonomy" bill for the province

This is the same pattern of political and military backed violence, which developed in East Timor in the name of territorial integrity and national unity.

Furthermore Jakarta's preoccupation with political power struggle resulting in new and unstable leadership every two years, has called into question Indonesia's capability to manage political violence and killings in its various provinces.

According to Franzalbert Joku, the Papua Presidium Council International Moderator, "irrespective of the power game unfolding in Jakarta, we remain unperturbed in our noble resolve to pursue every conceivable endeavour to reclaim our homeland and free our people from foreign domination, misery and annihilation. No amount of persuasion or intimidation will sway us from our conviction that ours is a genuine and legitimate cause. We are seeking what is rightfully ours and we will not rest until that mission is fully accomplished one way or the other".

This is the aspiration of the Papuans who have struggled and survived the tides of history and waves of oppression under successive Indonesian military regimes since the 1960s. The Second Papuan People's Congress held in May 2000 stressed that West Papua has been independent since December 1961 and that the subsequent Indonesian takeover was illegal. They are prepared to continue paying the price of freedom with their innocent lives if the United Nations and their Pacific neighbours do not wake up to face the reality of gross-violation of human rights on their doorstep at the dawn of the new millennium.

In view of negligence and human rights violations on the part of Indonesia as the administering authority, consideration should be given to re-inscribing West Papua on the UN List of Non-Self-Governing Territories for the UN Committee on Decolonisation to facilitate the decolonising process. This would require coordinating dialogue between Indonesia as the administering power and the Papua Presidium Council on a decolonisation agenda towards self-determination.

The United Nations should be urged to send, as a matter of urgency, a Fact Finding Mission to investigate Human Rights violations in West Papua, including an observer group to monitor the trials of West Papuan leaders currently under way.

This Briefing Paper is a reminder that as in the case of Vanuatu and the Kanak people of New Caledonia, the Forum had set a precedent in facilitating dialogue when the administering powers neglected their responsibilities in mapping out the political and constitutional agenda towards self determination.

PCRC urges Forum leaders to take a step further and come up with a concrete political directive to facilitate dialogue and discussions at the United Nations and other international fora on the political calendar towards West Papua self determination.


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