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New Zealand should support West Papua at the Pacific Islands Forum
12 August 2002
The Indonesia Human Rights committee is urging Prime Minister Helen Clark to take a strong stand in support of the rights of the people of West Papua, at this year's Pacific Island Forum..
The human rights situation in West Papua has deteriorated following the recent violent deaths of West Papuan leaders, Chief Theys Eluay, chairman of The Papuan Presidium Council, and Yafeth Yelemaken, director of the Civilian Custom Institute in Wamena. At least 100,000 Papuans have died in ongoing conflict since West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, and now there is a threatening new military and militia build-up .
In particular we have urged Helen Clark to support:
The international campaign for a United Nations Review of the 1969 "Act of Free Choice" in West Papua.
The UN was responsible for supervising the Act of Free Choice, but did a gross disservice to the West Papuans by accepting the vote of just 1025 "hand-picked" Papuans. The vote was conducted under extreme duress - contrary to Clause 18 of the 1962 New York Agreement signed between the Netherlands, as former colonial power, and Indonesia. Late last year UN official Chakravarthy Narasimhan who helped to organise the Indonesian take-over described the Act of Free Choice as a "whitewash". Now pressure is building for a UN review .
The need for West Papuan representatives to be granted observer status at the Pacific Islands Forum
As Indonesia is now a "post Forum dialogue partner", the admission of West Papua as an observer would open up a new opportunity for dialogue aimed at peaceful conflict resolution. West Papuan people are part of the Pacific Community and were part of the South Pacific Commission set up in 1950 - the predecessor of today's Forum. We believe that West Papua is eligible for observer status as - "a Pacific Island territory on a clear path to achieving self-government or independence"
We have also urged the Prime Minister to encourage the Indonesian government to control its military in the province and to raise concerns about the dangers the Laskar Jihad militia pose for stability in West Papua.
For further information contact Maire Leadbeater Phone 09-815-9000 or cell phone 025-436-957