9 Sep 2003

Civil society groups calls for Indonesian/Papuan dialogue

11:46 am on 9 September 2003

There is a strong push from civil society groups in Indonesia's Papua to establish dialogue with Jakarta.

There has been recent violence in the province over Indonesia's plan to divide the province while the army has announced it is sending hundreds more troops there.

Maire Leadbetter of New Zealand's Indonesian Human Rights Committee says the military build up has left people very afraid.

She says civil society organisations, human rights groups and the churches are aiming to put aside differences over the division of the province and special autonomy and focus on trying to talk with the Government.

"And for that to happen, I think the experience says that really what's needed here is some kind of international support for that peace move, just as in Aceh there was a time when there was a promising peace initiative when it had a bit of outside support."

Maire Leadbetter says one of the countries that Papuans would like to help initiate any talks is New Zealand.

The New Zealand Government has in the past indicated it would be prepared to mediate in discussions if asked to by both parties.