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Act now! for the people of West Papua
19 October 2000
The urgency of this alert relates to the forthcoming South Pacific Forum (Heads of Government) meeting which will take place next week, 27 to 30 October, in Kiribati. This alert is in three parts: what needs to be done at the South Pacific Forum (HoG) meeting; where to get more information about West Papua; and contact details if you wish to act on this alert.
South Pacific Forum (HoG) meeting
It is extremely urgent that immediate pressure is put on the New Zealand government to ensure that their representatives (including Prime Minister Helen Clark) at the South Pacific Forum support the following:
1) the resolution regarding West Papua which will be put to the Forum meeting by the governments of Vanuatu and Nauru;
2) the granting of South Pacific Forum Observer Status to representatives of the people of West Papua.
Recognition of the aspirations of the people of West Papua by the Forum is absolutely crucial for two main reasons:
a) to have West Papua re-instated on the agenda of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation - such a re-instatement has to come from a regional forum, and the most appropriate and indeed only regional organisation which could act for the people of West Papua is the South Pacific Forum;
b) the involvement of the international community in West Papua is of the most critical importance to monitor what is going on there, to investigate human rights abuses, and to put pressure on the Indonesian government to find a peaceful political solution and to move towards ending their occupation of West Papua.
The delegates at the Second Papuan People’s Congress (earlier this year) which included representatives of the people of West Papua and OPM (Free Papua Movement) made their agenda very clear - they wish to engage in peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government to bring about a political, not a military, solution. Today, as you may be aware from mass media reports, people in 6 regions of West Papua are raising their flag (‘Morning Star’) as part of a co-ordinated peaceful protest to bring the world’s attention to their situation. It is not clear at this point how the Indonesian military and police will react.
The involvement of the international community is crucial to avoid an ‘East Timor - watch it all happen again’ scenario in West Papua. Recent developments have a distressing similarity to the sequence of events which led to the catastrophe in East Timor. In particular, the setting up and arming of anti-independence militias by the Indonesian military in recent months, and the sudden increase in Indonesian armed forces stationed in West Papua, are matters of the gravest concern.
And just like East Timor, the plight of the people of West Papua has been ignored for years by governments around the world, who instead choose to arm and abet the Indonesian government and military in their occupation. Previous New Zealand governments too were involved in giving practical assistance to the Indonesian military - including training of officers, and allowing the refurbishment of Indonesian warplanes to be done here.
There is still the opportunity to prevent the situation in West Papua deteriorating into a similar man-made tragedy such as occurred in East Timor last year - the current New Zealand government has the opportunity at the South Pacific Forum meeting next week to assist in advancing a peaceful, negotiated political solution for the people of West Papua.
If they fail to take this opportunity, then they too will have blood on their hands.
‘Our first and foremost vision is for freedom, peace, democracy and justice for the people of West Papua’ - John Otto Ondawame, OPM, speaking in Wellington (Aotearoa/New Zealand), 18 October 2000.
For more information
Also, take the opportunity to hear John Otto Ondawame, on a national speaking tour right now, the remaining public meetings are: CHRISTCHURCH, today, 19 October: at 8pm, public meeting Trade Union Centre (1st Floor) 199 Armagh St, contact Joe Davies, tel (03) 366 2803; 21-22 Oct - in DUNEDIN, 21-22 October: no details, contact Suzanne Menzies Culling tel (03) 487 7088, Corso (03) 477 3395; AUCKLAND, Tuesday, 24 October: at 9-30 am, meeting with NGOs in Law School; at 1pm, University Campus meeting, in Room GO6, 11 Symonds St, Philosophy Department; at 7-30pm, public meeting Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn; WHANGAREI, Wednesday, 25 October: at 7pm, Pat Irving Lounge, St John’s Church 149 Kamo Rd, Kensington, contact Tim Howard tel (09) 434 6633.
a) NZ government contacts - * Phone calls and faxes (all to be prefixed by 04 by those of you out of Wellington) - Helen Clark, Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9998, fax 473 3579; Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9011, fax 495 8441; Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, office - tel 471 9370, fax 495 8444; The Cabinet (collectively), office - tel 471 9743, fax 472 6332. * Ideally you should send a copy of your correspondence to Matt Robson, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, tel (04) 470 6561, fax (04) 495 8462; Keith Locke, Green Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, tel 470 6709, fax 472 6003; and a copy of your correspondence and of any replies to PMA for our files.
Letters should be addressed to the relevant person and posted (no stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.
b) You could also write to the national / nationally distributed media: Christchurch Press, fax (03) 364 8492, email@example.com; Dominion, fax (04) 474 0257; Evening Post, fax; (04) 474 0237, firstname.lastname@example.org; New Zealand Herald, fax (09) 373 6434, email@example.com; Sunday Star Times, fax (09) 309 0258; Press Association, fax (04) 473 7480; Radio New Zealand, fax (04) 473 0185; Listener, fax (09) 360 3831, firstname.lastname@example.org