29 Jul 2004

Human rights advocate says Pacific Islands Forum should support Papua

3:03 pm on 29 July 2004

The New Zealand based Indonesian Human Rights Committee says it will be an indictment of the Pacific Islands Forum if they do not grant observer status to Indonesia's Papua province.

Spokesperson Maire Leadbeater says if Pacific countries do not take an interest in the troubles of the province, no one will.

The organisation is also appealing to Pacific leaders to undertake a fact-finding mission on human rights in the region.

They put the demands to the sixteen Forum leaders in a letter a week ago, but have yet to receive a reply.

Ms Leadbeater says in previous years the Forum has expressed concern about the region but they need to do much more because Papua is Melanesian and therefore a Pacific nation.

She says the forum has a committment to supporting communities that are on the path to independence and therefore West Papua should be supported in their move to self determination.

She says it is possible that there be resistance to the proposal.

"Sometimes the resistance unfortunately at the Pacific Islands Forum comes from the big white powerful nations, Australia and New Zealand, who are very keen on keeping their cosy relationship going with Indonesia. But there'll be pressure on them coming from another direction, there'll be pressure coming from other Melanesian nations, particulary Vanuatu, which has taken a very strong stand in support of self determination for West Papua."