31 Mar 2009

NZ can play a role in facilitating dialogue over West Papua, says religious leader

10:07 am on 31 March 2009

A West Papua religious leader and academic says the New Zealand government could perform a role in facilitating dialogue over Indonesia's troubled Papua region as it did for Bougainville back in the early 1990s.

Father Neles Tebay of the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura says ongoing human rights abuses and killings related to the presence of Indonesian troops in Papua highlight the urgent need for dialogue on the future of his people.

He says New Zealand's acknowledged key role in facilitating talks which led to peace in Bougainville after years of civil war show how it sometimes just takes a neighbour to help bring positive change to a regional conflict.

"I think the National-led government can facilitate some meetings between the Indonesia government and Papuans to discuss on how to settle the West Papua conflict through dialogue. My belief is based on what the National-led government has done for peaceful settlement on the Bougainville conflict."

Father Neles Tebay.