1 Oct 2007

Forum leaders asked to consider observer status for Papuans

5:13 pm on 1 October 2007

Pacific Islands leaders are being asked to consider the plight of the nearly two million Melanesian people in the Indonesian region of Papua when they meet in Tonga in two weeks.

A spokesman for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, says there is a growing military presence in Papua and increasing human rights abuses there.

He says it is encouraging to see the increasing number of non -self governing territories and organisations that have recently become Forum observers and West Papua should be given the same status.

He says the Forum leadership speak of inclusiveness and a Pacific vision but this falls flat if the concerns of the Melanesians in West Papua are ignored.

"It's a regional issue, I mean it is not going to go away. The Pacific Islands Forum could be the EU of the South Pacific. It could be involved in security matters, I mean, really trying to help all Pacific people and West Papua are a Melanesian people - one point eight million Melanesians that are not part of the Pacific Islands Forum in any way and they should definitely be brought in."