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NZ govt MP calls for West Papua issue to go to UN

Radio New Zealand International - August 1, 2018

A New Zealand government MP says the issue of West Papuan self-determination should be heard at the United Nations.

Louisa Wall made the comment at the launch of a new book examining New Zealand's position on West Papua.

In her book "See No Evil: New Zealand's betrayal of the people of West Papua", author Maire Leadbeater criticises successive governments for failing to support Papuan rights.

Ms Wall said the book offers telling insights on how Papuans had no say in their homeland's incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s.

She said there is support within the ruling Labour Party caucus, as well as the M?ori and Pacific caucuses, to help Papuans get a fair self-determination vote.

"The pathway forward really is is there an appetite and a priority to redress an historical wrong? There are growing numbers of us that have become aware and do support the call for a free vote. I supported the call to add west papua back on to the [UN] decolonisation list."

Indonesia's government, however, said that the incorporation of the former territory of Dutch New Guinea into Indonesia was final.

It said this was formalised with 1969's so-called Act of Free Choice, in which around 1000 Papuans voted for Indonesia rule over independence. However, this referendum is widely regarded as having been stage-managed.

The New Zealand prime minister and Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern reiterated the government's formal support for Indonesian control of Papua to Indonesia's president Joko Widodo during his state visit to New Zealand earlier this year.

However, Ms Wall and a number of government MPs consider West Papua's political status to be an unresolved issue of colonialism.

"We have to act on principles, and principles of justice and indigeneity," she said, conceding that the number of MPs pushing this issue were not currently a majority.

"I believe in self-determination, I believe in indigenous rights. This is a right of the West Papuan indigenous peoples to re-litigate something that has been highlighted, actually was done in an unjust and unfair way."

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/363121/nz-govt-mp-calls-for-west-papua-issue-to-go-to-un.

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