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Mass Arrests in West Papua

Mass Arrests in West Papua.

West Papua Action Canterbury and West Papua Action Auckland call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take action over the latest mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators in West Papua.

‘Mass arrests of activists are becoming an all too common fact of life for the people of West Papua. But this latest wave is so large it sends an ominous signal. New Zealand should let Jakarta know in no uncertain terms that it upholds the rights of free speech and assembly. Wellington should also press for a fact-finding mission to the territory in line with the Pacific Island Forum request for a mission which Jakarta has yet to respond to.’

‘The visit next week of West Papuan human rights defender and Church leader Rev Socratez Yoman is very timely and we are hoping parliamentarians including Government parliamentarians will take advantage of the opportunity to meet with this important guest.’

Letter follows:

3 May 2016

Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Parliament Buildings,
Fax 04 817 6510

Dear Mr McCully,

We are shocked and deeply troubled to learn of the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators over the past few days. While security forces in West Papua have a notorious reputation for arbitrary arrests, these latest arrests are on mass scale and send an ominous signal of increased repression.

We understand from numerous reports that the police have arrested at least 500 and possibly over 1000 demonstrators during a rally in the capital Jayapura. Reports also state that dozens were arrested in the Papuan regional centres of Merauke, Manokwari, Wamena and Sorong and even at solidarity demonstrations in Central Java and South Sulawesi. Last month peaceful rallies held on the 13 and 29 April also ended with over 40 arrests on each occasion.

This severe crackdown was prompted by nothing more than peaceful demonstrations calling for popular support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, (ULMWP) and its and its effort to reach full member status of the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group. The demonstrators also showed their support for the meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in London on 3 May.

This is an outrageous situation. The people of West Papua are entitled under international law to the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and assembly. The Indonesian authorities need to be told by all democratic governments, especially those like New Zealand who are near neighbours of West Papua, that these breaches of fundamental rights must stop.

As you know the last meeting of the Pacific Island Forum resolved to request Indonesia to permit a fact-finding mission to go to the territory. New Zealand should now pressure Jakarta to allow this mission to take place as soon as possible so that the West Papuan people can tell the outside world their stories.

We are understand that your commitments currently prevent you from meeting Papuan Church leader Socratez Yoman when he visits Wellington on the 10th and 11th May but should any other Government Minister or MP be free to meet with him on your behalf we would be pleased to arrange that.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater and Brian Turner
For West Papua Action Auckland and West Papua Action Canterbury.


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