Grant observer status to West Papua
21 October 2006
The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) calls on the Pacific Islands Forum leaders to grant observer status to West Papua at its upcoming meeting in Fiji.
AWPA congratulates the Forum leaders for granting observer status to Tokelau at last years Forum, to join New Caledonia, French Polynesia and the newly independent nation of East Timor.
Joe Collins of AWPA said "the time is now right for West Papua to be granted observer status at the Forum. If the non-sovereign territories of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Tokelau can be granted observer status at the Forum, Why should it not also apply to West Papua?"
The Forum is the 'EU' of the Pacific and could play an important role in encouraging and facilitating dialogue between the government of Indonesia and West Papuan representatives.
West Papua has always been considered part of the Pacific Community. Netherlands New Guinea, as West Papua was then known, was a member of the South Pacific Commission (SPC). A West Papuan representative attended the first SPC Conference and West Papuans continued to participate in the SPC meetings until the Dutch ceded their authority to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) in 1962.
The West Papua people face great challenges including human rights abuses, exploitation of their natural resources (with little or no benefit to themselves), in danger of becoming a minority in their own land and a possible HIV/AIDS epidemic. The West Papuan people need all the support from the international community they can get.
The Pacific Islands Forum can help the West Papuan people by:
- Granting observer status to West Papua. By granting observer status, West Papuan representatives can dialogue with Indonesian representatives at the ‘Post-Forum Dialogue’, to try and solve the many problems in West Papua;
- Seeking support from the Indonesian government for a Forum fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.
Joe Collins said the Forum leaders should also "urge the Australian government not to go ahead with a proposed security treaty with Indonesia or be involved in training the Indonesian military while the Indonesian military continues its oppression in West Papua. Such training will only increase the danger to the West Papuan people".