16 Aug 2005

Papuan activists seek support from Melanesian leaders

8:29 am on 16 August 2005

Human rights activists from the Indonesian province of Papua are seeking support from leaders of Melanesian nations meeting in Papua New Guinea this week.

A group of 15 to 20 West Papuan students crossed the border into PNG last week and plan to stage a rally today to denounce Indonesia's recent troop build-up in the province.

They said they wanted to send a message to the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in the PNG Highlands town of Goroka that their support was needed.

One of the demands of the students camped in the northern PNG town of Wewak is for thousands of extra Indonesian troops and police to be withdrawn.

One student who did not wish to be named said he and his colleagues from Jayapura decided to cross the border for their own safety.

He said the Indonesian government's recent granting of "special autonomy" to the province was a complete failure.