25 Aug 2008

New Zealand MP critical of Pacific Forum countries for ignoring plight of Papuans

7:43 pm on 25 August 2008

New Zealand Green party MP Keith Locke says Pacific Islands Forum countries like New Zealand could do more to push dialogue with Indonesia about West Papua.

This follows the apparent absence of any discussion about the troubled Indonesian region at last week's Forum leaders summit in Niue.

The Papua problem has featured at most recent summits, including last year in Tonga.

Mr Locke says that for the issue to be shelved now is disappointing.

He says Indonesia is opening itself up more these days and now is a time when Forum countries could engage more with Jakarta about bringing positive change in Papua.

"Special Autonomy law that doesn't seem to be meeting the needs of the Papuan people judging by the current unrest and protests. And New Zealand could perhaps bring some of our experience with Maori settlements and that sort of thing - greater sensitivity with indigenous rights and that could be quite usefully brought to bear and I think the doors wouldn't be all closed if we did that."

Keith Locke