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West Papuan Solidarity Groups meet in Sydney

West Papuan Solidarity Groups meet in Sydney

2 March 2011

West Papuan solidarity groups met in Sydney on the 26 February to discuss issues of concern in relation to West Papua including the deteriorating human rights situation.

National Conference of Solidarity groups- Sydney 26 February 2011

"West Papua[1] an issue whose time has come".


The delegates reaffirmed the right of the West Papuan people to self-determination, in accord with the demands of the West Papuan people themselves.

Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)

It was noted that the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is to allow Indonesia and Timor Leste to attend as observers at the MSG leaders summit in Suva on the 31March.

We call on the MSG to rescind the offer of observer status to Indonesia and instead to offer observer status to those representatives of the Melanesian people of West Papua involved in the independence struggle, a precedent previously being given by the MSG to colonised peoples of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanky (New Caledonia).

Pacific Islands Forum

The 42nd Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum will be held in New Zealand in September 2011. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Forum and it is now time to bring the Melanesian people of West Papua back into the Pacific community. (A West Papuan representative attended the first SPC Conference and West Papuans continued to participate in the SPC meetings until the Dutch ceded their authority to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) in 1962.) In recent years the PIF has expanded the various categories for those who can attend as observers, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, previously Forum Observers, were granted Associate Membership in 2006. Current Forum Observers include Tokelau (2005), Wallis and Futuna (2006), the Commonwealth (2006), the United Nations (2006) and the Asian Development Bank (2006), with Timor Leste as Special Observer (2002).

Why not West Papua?

We believe the Pacific Islands Forum countries must engage with Indonesia over the issue of West Papua and the Forum should be vigorous in condemning the human rights abuses that are ongoing in West Papua

The Indonesian security forces

It is in the interest of the military to provoke and prolong conflict in West Papua in order to prove that they are needed to maintain law and order and control so called separatists groups. In fact the main aim of the military in Indonesia appears to be revenue raising. The Indonesian military receive approximately 30% of their budget from the government and must raise the rest themselves. Much of this is done through illegal means such as illegal logging, mining and offering to provide so called security to international companies such as the Freeport copper and gold mine. With Indonesian law requiring the military to divest such business activities, shell companies are now being used by the military to continue the same operations.

In December cables released by WikiLeaks in relation to West Papua confirmed what NGOs have been telling their governments for years, that it is the Indonesian military that are one of the main problems in West Papua. The cables revealed that US diplomats blame the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses. That Indonesian military commanders have been accused of illegal logging operations and drug smuggling from West Papua into Papua New Guinea

We call on the Australian Government to re- think its policy of ties with the Indonesian military until such time that Indonesian military personnel involved in past human rights abuses are brought to justice and the culture of the Indonesian military becomes of an acceptable standard to both the Australian people and Australian military. In the short term we urge the Government to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between the Australian military, Detachment 88 and the special forces unit Kopassus, until a full inquiry is held into the activities of these units in relation to human rights abuses in the archipelago.

The Threat to West Papua's forests

West Papua contains some of the last great tracts of undisturbed rain forest in the Asia-Pacific region. Natural forest cover is still approximately 70% of the territory however, there is no doubt that the rich, bio-diverse forests of West Papua are coming under major threat as the Indonesian government looks to replace the exhausted forests resources in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The main threats include logging (both legal and illegal), oil palm plantations, proposed food estates, pulp and paper industry although transmigration sites and mining areas have also impacted on the forests of West Papua. West Papuas forests are not only important for the West Papuan people who should own them but also to the global community. There is no doubt the importance of forests to protect against climate change and the global community should be doing all it can to protect West Papuas forests and to ensure that it is the people of West Papua that benefit from proposed REDD schemes.


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