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PIF Should Grant Observer Status to Territory of West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) Media Release 31 August 2011 PIF should grant observer status to the territory of West Papua [1]

At the 42nd Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to be held in Auckland next week, AWPA calls on the PIF leaders to grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination. As more of the Pacific community applies for observer status at the Forum (Congressman Faleomavaega in a press release on the 8 August thanked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for clearing American Samoa, Guam and CNMI to apply for observer status at the PIF) it is time on the 40th anniversary of the PIF to bring the Melanesian people of West Papua back into the Pacific community.

In its guiding principles the PIF talks about "the importance of averting the causes of conflict" and how "Human Rights are a fundamental component of the vision of the Pacific Island Leaders which states that "We see a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance" the full observance of democratic values, and for its defence and promotion of human rights." Joe Collins of AWPA said West Papua is the one territory in the Pacific where the deteriorating human rights situation could lead to instability in the region. The Forum leaders should be concerned about this and do all they can to help resolve this conflict. A good start would be to grant observer to those West Papuan representatives who are struggling for their right to self determination. They PIF leaders would have the support of their people in bringing West Papua back into the Pacific community.

In a letter to the PIF leaders in June 2011 AWPA urged the PIF Leaders to put the issue of West Papua on its agenda at its September summit and to not only discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua but to make a public statement of concern regarding the human rights situation in the territory as it has in past Forum Communiques. We also urge the PIF to raise concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian President to grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination.

A number of governments have supported the autonomy package for West Papua stating that the it is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. Although funding for the autonomy package has flowed to West Papua it has only benefited some elites and the bureaucrats with no benefit for the majority of West Papuans, which is why it has been rejected. We believe that it is pointless for governments to keep saying the autonomy package is the best way forward. Even a revised Special Autonomy in whatever form it might take will never satisfy West Papuans demand for self determination. West Papuans have lost trust that Jakarta will ever develop West Papua for the sake of the Papuans.

The Forum can help by urging Jakarta to dialogue with the Independence Movement to find a lasting solution. We also call on the Forum leaders to urge the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people and urge the Forum to send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.


[1] AWPA (Sydney) uses the name 'West Papua' to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea.


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