28 Sep 2010

US Congressman says Pacific shouldn't turn back on Papua

9:45 pm on 28 September 2010

American Samoa's US congressman, Faleomavaega Eni Faleomavaega says the Pacific should not turn its back on the Indonesian region of Papua.

Last week as chairman of the Sub-Committee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Faleomavaega hosted a hearing of the US Congress on the issue of ongoing human rights abuses in Papua.

He says more than 50 Members of the Congress have added their voices to a call for President Obama to make the issue of Papua one of his highest priorities when he visits Indonesia.

Faleomavaega says the nations of the Pacific cannot ignore the reports of human rights abuses from Papua.

"And I just feel that these people are part of our region. As much as I remember many of our Samoan ancestors were missionaries and became ministers and brought Christanity to these Papuan people, so I consider them my brothers and sisters and we should do all we can to help them."

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Ambassador to the US, Dino Patti Djalal, has dismissed the Congress meeting, saying few people attended and the US government shouldn't change its stance.

Faleomavaega says Ambassador Djalal's attitude is typical of Indonesian indifference to the serious concerns raised at the hearing.