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Foreign Minister urged to back dialogue and the 'Land of Peace' proposal for West Papua

13 May 2005

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs to propose that Indonesia enter into dialogue with West Papuan leaders aimed at progressing the concept of West Papua as a 'Land of Peace'.

The call has been made in the light of the deteriorating human rights situation in Indonesian controlled West Papua, including the violent crack down on student demonstrators this week.

At least 30 students were seriously injured in the May 10 Jayapura demonstration and a senior Papuan police officer has since been stood down. The demonstration was held in support of two men who were on trial for taking part in a peaceful flag raising ceremony. According to the organisers the demonstration was peaceful until the intervention of agent provocateurs.

Indonesia plans to send a new division of Kostrad troops to West Papua to bring the military troop strength up to a staggering 50,000.

The 'Land of Peace' proposal has had the strong support of all sectors of society in West Papua, including local politicians, tribal leaders, and the provincial parliament. It would reduce fear and allow West Papuan people freedom to discuss political, economic and cultural concerns. The 'Land of Peace' was recently promoted in Geneva at the UN Commission of Human Rights by an interfaith delegation coordinated by the international organisation of Franciscans.

The West Papuan people fear that they cannot survive as a people if they continue to face military repression on this level as well as other threats such as the weekly influx of new migrants and the escalating incidence of HIV/Aids.

New Zealand can live up to its peace-making reputation by promoting dialogue and the 'Land of Peace' goal.

Media release,
Indonesia Human Rights Committee

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