PNG police stop West Papuan awareness plans

4:54 pm on 8 November 2018

Papua New Guinea police have stopped a group of visiting West Papuans raising awareness about human rights abuses in neighbouring Indonesia.

Papua New Guinea police.

Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

A group of around 200 people called the West Papua Interest Association crossed over the border into PNG's Western Province last week.

It wrote to local police notifying of plans to raise awareness about rights issues.

In response PNG's police border commander, Samson Kua, advised them not to proceed with their plans.

He said he doesn't want people disturbing the peace around the time PNG is hosting next week's APEC leaders summit in Port Moresby.

"They will have to wait until APEC is over, and they can do their awareness on whatever they want to do. So actually they're very peaceful. They're not getting involved with any awareness at the moment, they're very peaceful. They're just laying low and staying in their own camps."

The West Papuans are within their rights to be in PNG, as they hold Traditional Border Crossing cards which allow them to travel over the border into PNG

While Mr Kua indicated police were determined to clamp down on illegal activities during the APEC period, he did not elaborate on how the Papuans' campaign was illegal.

"We don't expect any noise from any people who are trying to disturb the peace and normalcy of APEC," he explained.

He said the West Papuans' grievances on Indonesia's side of the border were not PNG's problem, nor could PNG tell Indonesia what to do.

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