PNG PM urges Pacific countries to take Papua issue to UN

7:43 pm on 10 July 2018

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has reportedly encouraged regional countries to take the issue of West Papua to the United Nations decolonisation committee.

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Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Peter O'Neill made the comment while in Fiji where he was the keynote speaker at a public lecture on "Pacific Regionalism".

The Fiji Times reports that when asked whether Indonesian-ruled Papua, or West Papua, could be part of Pacific regionalism, Mr O'Neill admitted it was a sensitive subject for PNG.

However he pointed out that West Papua was part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and has participated in regional discussions.

In recent years members of the MSG, notably Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as well as other Pacific countries, have been vocal about West Papua in international fora.

Their concern centres on violations against the basic human rights of West Papuans, and claims that Papuans have been denied a legitimate self-determination process.

Mr O'Neill said PNG had been speaking frankly to Indonesia's government about issues of human rights abuses in Papua region.

But he said PNG urged regional members who were concerned about West Papua to take the issue up at the UN.

According to the Fiji Times, Mr O'Neill said PNG was encouraging that this be put to the UN decolonisation committee.

It's not the first time Mr O'Neill has spoken about his country's concerns about human rights abuses in neighouring West Papua, although his government officially supports Indonesian sovereignty on the western half of New Guinea.

However two years ago, Mr O'Neill expressed PNG's desire for West Papuans to have more autonomy.

The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua were granted Special Autonomy Status by Jakarta in 2001.

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