10 Oct 2005

Australian church minister helps Papuans in overseas campaign

4:59 pm on 10 October 2005

An Australian clergyman helping to lobby the US congress to investigate the Act of Free Choice under which Papua became a province of Indonesia says Papuans are developing a voice.

Australian Uniting Church minister, the Reverend John Barr, has been assisting a delegation of Papuan church ministers travel to the US last week to lobby over the status of the province.

He says Papuan leaders are increasingly looking overseas to have their grievances heard and have been given hope when the House of representatives recently passed a Bill calling on the state Department to re-examine Papua's incorporation into Indonesia.

The Reverend Barr says up until recently, when Papuans formally rejected their Special Autonomy Status, Papuans have felt they've never been consulted or taken seriously.

"They're committed to non-violence and they're committed to peaceful negotiations but they want to be proactive in doing something, and so I think the return of the Special Autonomy was an important thing for the Papuan community because it was a strong statement to say we don't want to be fooled around, we want to be taken seriously and I think sending this delegation to Washington it, again, gives the Papuans a voice."

The Reverend John Barr.