7 Mar 2006

Senior UN official says greater watchfulness will stop genocide in Papua

11:10 am on 7 March 2006

A senior United Nations official says greater monitoring of reported human rights abuses in the Indonesian province of Papua will help to prevent genocide.

The Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, is seeking more information on the conflict in Papua.

A low-level insurgency has left up to 100,000 people dead since the early 1960s.

Mr Mendez says more monitoring will ultimately stop large-scale violence on the basis of ethnicity.

"This is a conflict that can have ethnic or racial dimensions to it, and for that reason I am interested in making sure that we follow events in a way that allow us to provide early warning to the international community, and hopefully advise on early action that can be taken so that the conflict does not get out of hand."

Mr Mendez hopes mounting international concern doesn't lead to accelerated repression, but would rather be a catalyst for action to protect civilians.