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West Papua in Crisis: John Rumbiak National Speaking Tour
Public meetings in Whangarei, Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
and Dunedin - details below.

Photo: John Rumbiak speaking in Wellington, 5 October 2004

John Rumbiak, Chairman of International Affairs for the respected West Papua Human Rights organisation ELSHAM, tours New Zealand between September 20 and October 19. He is available for interview and comment during this time.

John Rumbiak, who is currently a visiting Scholar at Columbia University's Center for Human Rights Study, brings a clear challenge to New Zealanders to face up to the ongoing crisis in Indonesian controlled West Papua.

Mr Rumbiak is West Papua's most influential human rights defender. His organisation Elsham is a consistent advocate of peace and dialogue as the means to resolving conflict in West Papua, and undertakes fearless documentation of human rights abuses. When Elsham's independent investigation of the murder of two US citizens near the Freeport mine in 2002 revealed Indonesian military involvement, the Generals responded with a law suit.

When the perpetrators of the 1999 killings in East Timor were absolved recently by the Indonesian Court of Appeal, John Rumbiak said that the failed prosecutions against the Indonesian military would put millions of people at risk of continuing military abuses in West Papua and Aceh.

He said that the failure to punish even a single Indonesian soldier or officer over the carnage in East Timor in 1999 would reassure the military that it can continue to operate with impunity. The Indonesian military has been recruiting, training and funding militia groups in West Papua mirroring its notorious East Timor strategy, which "subcontracted" some of the worst violent attacks to a network of paramilitary gangs.

Indonesia's official human rights commission recently concluded that the security forces had committed "gross abuses" in several West Papuan towns in the past three years. President Megawati Sukarnoputri has reneged on her promise to ensure that so called "special autonomy" legislation would deliver a fairer division of resources and guarantee political representation for Papuans.

During his time in New Zealand, Mr Rumbiak will meet with politicians and human rights groups. He has been invited to speak at the University of Canterbury Conference 'Securing a Peaceful Pacific: Preventing and resolving conflict in the Pacific'. John will address public meetings in Whangarei, Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin (see below).

Elsham News Service, 17 September 2004
Press Release: Indonesia Human Rights Committee.

  • John Rumbiak biographical information
  • Article: Fate of West Papua Hangs in the Balance
  • Article: West Papua: forgotten Pacific nation threatened with genocide
       (with Abigail Abrash Walton)

  • Public meetings: 27 September to 16 October
  • Whangarei

    • Monday, 27 September - Public meeting at 7pm, Pat Irving Lounge, St John's Church, 149 Kamo Rd, Kensington. Contact Tim Howard tel (09) 434 6633 or email.


    • Tuesday, 28 September - Public Meeting at 7pm, St Mary's Catholic Church. Contact Peter Archer tel (07) 574 0976.


    • Friday, 1 October - Public Meeting at 7.30pm, St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont Street, Ponsonby (opposite the Mosque, parking at rear of Centre). Contact Maire Leadbeater, Indonesian Human Rights Committee, tel (09) 815 9000 or email.


    • Tuesday, 5 October - 'Free West Papua Now', peace vigil featuring the 'Morning Star' - the flag which West Papuans cannot safely display in their own country; 4.30pm at the Cenotaph, corner Bowen Street and Lambton Quay. Contact Peace Movement Aotearoa tel (04) 382 8129, email.
    • Tuesday, 5 October - 'West Papua in Crisis', public meeting which includes the screening of 'Land of the Morning Star'; 5.30pm at the Catholic Centre Cafeteria, 22-30 Hill Street, Thorndon (parking at rear of Centre). Contact Peter Zwart, Caritas, tel (04) 496 1742, email or Peace Movement Aotearoa tel (04) 382 8129, email. Printable publicity flyer. Photo of John Rumbiak speaking at this meeting.
    • Wednesday, 6 October - 'Focus on West Papua' a lunchtime seminar with John Rumbiak, from 12 noon to 1.30pm at Te Kawa a Maui / School of Maori, Pacific and Samoan Studies, VUW, 6 Kelburn Parade. Contact Teresia Teaiwa tel (04) 463 5110, email. Printable publicity flyer.


    • Thursday, 14 October - 'Pacific Report' with speakers including John Rumbiak on West Papua, Lopeti Senituli on 'Democratisation - Tongan Style', and Hilda Lini from Vanuatu; 7.30pm, at Knox Hall, 28 Bealey Avenue. Organised by Christian World Service and Arena, contact Gillian Southey, Christian World Service, tel (03) 366 9274 or email.
    • Saturday, 16 October - 'Conflict in West Papua' workshop, part of the 'Securing a Peaceful Pacific: Preventing and Resolving Conflict in the Pacific' conference.


    • Monday, 11 October - Public Meeting, with introduction by Metiria Turei MP, at 7.30 pm, Quaker Meeting House, 15 Park Street. Contact Maureen Howard tel (03) 477 8502.

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