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AWPA Calls Rudd To Raise W. Papua Issue With Indo

AWPA Calls on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to raise the issue of West Papua with the Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda

Joe Collins from the Australia West Papua Association said that AWPA is still concerned about the ties with the Indonesian military that the Lombok Treaty commits us to. (The treaty came into force on Thursday at a ceremony in Perth which was attended by the foreign ministers of Australia and Indonesia.

Prime Minister Rudd will meet with the Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda in Sydney today. Joe Collins from the AWPA said that "West Papua will be one of our most pressing foreign policy issues in the future, here is the opportunity for the Prime Minister to raise the issue of West Papua with the Indonesian Foreign Minister. We all want to have good relations with our neighbours but good relations with Jakarta should not be at the expense of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self-determination".

Australian governments of all persuasions have believed that a stabilised region to our north is our best defence. Kevin Rudd gave a talk last July to the Lowy Institute on the very subject called Fresh Ideas for Future Challenges: A New Approach to Australia's Arc of Instability. In discussing Australian-Indonesian relations, however, there was no mention of West Papua. Yet it is the Indonesian military that are one of the main destabilising factors in West Papua. The activities of the military, their involvement in human rights abuses and resource extraction will lead to the very instability the government is trying to avoid.

The message that Kevin Rudd should give to the Indonesian Foreign Minister to take back to the Indonesian President is that Jakarta should dialogue with the Indonesian leadership to try and solve the many issues of concern in West Papua.

We know from history that dialogue is the beginning of the political resolution of such conflicts. To quote from Nelson Mandela, "One of our strongest weapons is dialogue".


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