16 Aug 2005

New Zealand urged to take stronger stance on Indonesia's Papua

8:37 am on 16 August 2005

The New Zealand based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign says there is extreme tension in the Indonesian province of Papua.

It calls the situation grave and made worse by a troop build up.

It is calling on the New Zealand government to raise the issue with Indonesian authorities.

Don Wiseman has more..

" The Campaign says in recent weeks there have been three attacks on villagers with one suffering knife wounds after which he was doused with petrol and set alight."

The Campaign says that aggressive action by the military and police has forced many people to stay in their houses, while commercial areas have shut down.

It also says that the military are reported to be training militia groups in the province.

On Friday thousands of people protested over the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, saying it has not led to any improvements in living conditions.

The Campaign says it has reports that large amounts of the autonomy funds are siphoned off to finance military operations or have disappeared without explanation.

It says the New Zealand Government should also the issue of the lack of free access to Papua for foreign journalists, and international human rights and humanitarian agencies.

I'm Don Wiseman.