31 Aug 2011

Pacific Forum leaders told they can't ignore conflict in Papua

6:10 pm on 31 August 2011

The Pacific Islands Forum is being told it must speak out about the ongoing instability in the Indonesian region of Papua.

Groups representing the indigenous Melanesian people of Papua are calling for them to be given observer status at next week's Forum summit in Auckland.

Pacific leaders once spoke out about the violence and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indonesia military in Papua, but have ignored the issues for the past four years.

The spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, says the Forum has to realise these abuses have been going on for many years and it's a matter that won't go away.

He says the Forum is a key regional agency and can't forget about Papua.

"How can you talk about security in the region if you do not actually take on one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific and this is actually West Papua. I mean they [the Forum] are a key regional organisation and by ignoring West Papua, they are showing that they are basically afraid of the issue of West Papua."