27 Feb 2006

US lawmaker calls on region to face up to Papuans' plight

12:58 pm on 27 February 2006

American Samoa's member of the US Congress has called on governments in the region to face up to the issue of the right to self-determination by the people of Indonesia's Papua province.

As a member of the US House International Relations committee, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin raised the issue of Papua with the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice earlier this month.

He said Dr Rice's response was that the US policy remains not to question Indonesia's territorial integrity.

Faleomavaega says the United Nations, the US and most Pacific countries, all of whom preach the merits of democracy, are turning a blind eye to the issue while Papuans' human rights continue to be abused.

"I guess Australia's the one that's really pulling the strings on this. I have to call on the good prime minister Howard to say 'hey, it's nice to send soldiers and preach democracy in Iraq and the Middle East' but in our own backyard we are even willing to look squarely at the issue we are faced with as far as providing the right to self-determination to 1.75 million West Papuans."