15 Jan 2014

Papua separatists say MSG ministers witnessed repression

11:10 am on 15 January 2014

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation says foreign ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been able to see first hand Indonesia's suppression of the Papuans.

Papua has seen an insurgency since Indonesia took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.

On Monday, Indonesian police arrested dozens of people in Jayapura when the MSG ministers briefly visited on a mission to vet a formal application by the Coalition to become an MSG member.

Papua police are quoted as saying there were no arrests, beatings or intimidation, adding that some people were taken in for questioning.

The Coalition's Vanuatu-based vice-chairman, Otto Ondawame, says while Indonesia shifted the purpose of the visit to one about economic co-operation, the ministers' lack of access to Papuan civil society was obvious.

"It has become clear that Indonesia kills or suppresses the people on the ground for demanding political change. So they are very happy they witness the true colour of the Indonesian government as the colonial master."

Otto Ondawame says he appreciates the stance of Vanuatu, which pulled out of the visit just days before it was to go ahead.