26 Oct 2011

Pacific regional leaders told they must do more to protect Papuan people

4:12 pm on 26 October 2011

A West Papuan who used to head the Catholic Church's office of Justice and Peace in Jayapura says Jakarta and the international community must take a different approach to the troubled region.

Last week, police violently broke up a Congress of indigenous leaders in Jayapura with unconfirmed reports of at least seven deaths and many injured.

That Congress had declared independence, but a Franciscan friar Budi Hernawan, who's now studying in Australia, says police over-reacted.

He says there are three key steps Jakarta should take, including using the legal system rather than relying on excessive force.

"Secondly engage in real and genuine negotiations with Papuan leaders. The third one I think the leaders in the region should pay more attention to the problem in the region [ Papua] and not to say, well it's a domestic matter, because under international law you have a responsibility to protect."

Franciscan friar Budi Hernawan