8 Sep 2016

Indonesia obstructing Papua representations - ULMWP

3:30 pm on 8 September 2016

Indonesia is impeding Pacific regional efforts to pursue justice for human rights abuses against Papuans the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says.

Criticism from the Movement's ambassador for the Pacific Islands region, Amatus Douw, comes as Papua is to be discussed at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The leaders summit began this morning in Pohnpei after the Forum secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor said earlier this week that the region could not avoid addressing the issue of West Papua.

The leaders of the 2015 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea

Pacific Islands Forum leaders resolved to push for a fact-finding mission to West Papua. Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

At last year's summit, Forum leaders resolved to push Indonesia to allow a fact-finding mission on West Papua from where reports of rights abuses against the indigenous Melanesians continue to filter out.

After a year and no movement on this front, Dame Meg said Jakarta has indicated it would not welcome such a mission, and was uncomfortable with the term "fact-finding."

Mr Douw said it was not a failure on the Forum's part but a sign of the defensiveness of Indonesia which he accused of "consistently trying to run away from its colonialism and human rights atrocities".

Solomons PM Manaseh Sogavare and leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)

Members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (including Amatus Douw bottom left) with Solomon Islands prime minister Manaseh Sogavare (center, blue shirt) Photo: Facebook

The Australia-based envoy believes a direct approach to the United Nations is required.

Indonesia, he said, was "now using weapon to killing young Papuans but you will never kill international law and UN charter on self-determination, freedom and independence".

The Indonesian embassy in New Zealand admitted Indonesia still faced obstacles in protecting the human rights of her citizens, but said Jakarta was addressing rights abuses.

It said Papua's incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s was sanctioned by the United Nations and was final.

Jayapura port, Papua province, Indonesia.

Jakarta says it is advancing economic development in Papua region to help improve living conditions for West Papuans. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

At a pre-Forum workshop in Pohnpei, Dame Meg identified that regional leadership was partly divided over how to approach the Papua issue, but noted that people in Pacific nations felt very strongly about it.

Mr Douw echoed Dame Meg's comments that the nascent Pacific Coalition for West Papua, including both government and civil society representatives, was gaining momentum in its bid to take the Papua issue to the UN level.

On the eve of the Forum summit, he urged Australia and New Zealand leaders to acknowledge their "moral responsibility" and get on board the coalition.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs