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Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum leaders re West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) Media Release - August 29, 2017

AWPA has written an open letter to the PIF leaders (letter below media release).

Joe Collins of AWPA said "we thank the PIF leaders for discussing and raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua in the official communiques' at the Forum meetings in Port Moresby in 2015 and Pohnpei in 2016 and is encouraged that the Forum Leaders agreed that the issue of West Papua should remain on their agenda".

AWPA urges the PIF Leaders:

Because of the ongoing arrests of peaceful demonstrators in West Papua, AWPA asks the Forum leaders to urge Jakarta to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to visit West Papua to investigate the situation on the ground in the territory.

We note the large number of non-self governing territories and organizations that have various types of status at the PIF. AWPA believes it would be beneficial if West Papua also had official status at the PIF under the umbrella organization, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). The West Papuan people have been calling for dialogue with Jakarta for years and AWPA believes the PIF can play an important role in helping facilitate such a dialogue between representatives of the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government.

AWPA also urges the PIF to support the call for the re-inscription of West Papua on the UN Decolonization Committee. The Special Committee on decolonization visited New Caledonia in March 2014 and AWPA urges the PIF leaders to ask the Committee to also visit West Papua on a fact finding mission to investigate how the West Papuan people have fared under Indonesian rule. It is an accepted fact that the so-called act of free choice in 1969 was a farce and the UN has a moral responsibility to the West Papuan people for that tragic event


Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

29 August 2017

Dear Pacific Islands Forum leaders,

On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) in Sydney, I am writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua and about the ongoing human rights abuses in the territory. AWPA uses the name "West Papua" to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea. However, "West Papua" at this time is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

I would first like to thank the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders for discussing and raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua in the official communiques' at the Forum meetings in Port Moresby in 2015 and Pohnpei in 2016. We are very encouraged that the Forum Leaders agreed that the issue of West Papua should remain on their agenda. AWPA also thanks the Pacific Island Nations who raised the issue of human rights abuses in West Papua at the UN General Assembly.
It was also encouraging to see that at the 14th Regional Meeting (Pacific) of the ACP EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Port Vila, that Vanuatu introduced the case of West Papua with the support of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and on purely humanitarian grounds, by Papua New Guinea. The Port Vila Communique mentioned,"Members called for the immediate halt to the brutal and senseless killings of the indigenous people of West Papua and referred the matter to the next JPA meetings".

AWPA will not go into great detail about all the human rights abuses that were committed by the Indonesian security forces in West Papua since the last Forum meeting in Pohnpei, as we understand that the PIF Leaders are very aware of all the issues of concerns in West Papua. However, AWPA believes that there has been no improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua in the past year.

During the month of August alone there were a number of incidents that show the ongoing abuses suffered by the West Papuan people.

1 August. Security forces open fire on villagers in Deiyai district
One person was killed and up to 17 injured including a number of children when the security forces opened fired on local people when responding to an incident in Deiyai district. The incident occurred when one of a number of men swimming in a river got into difficulty. The villager asked a group of workers at a company's construction site to take the person to the hospital. A worker refused the request. This angered the locals, who gathered at the site to confront the workers. The security forces deployed to handle the incident fired at the villagers killing one and injuring others. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) condemned the police shooting of the unarmed civilians in Deiyai.

15 August. Protesting 55 years since the New York Agreement
Demonstrations were held in West Papua and Indonesian protesting the "New York Agreement" when West Papua was handed over to Indonesia by UNTEA. At least 100 people from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian's Front for West Papua (FRI West Papua) were arrested in Yogyakarta, Semarang and Jakarta during the anniversary to protest 55 years since the signing of the New York Agreement.

20 August. Up to 24 West Papuans arrested in Fak-Fak
24 activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested simply for attending a meeting, exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

These arrests go against the principles laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states,

Since coming to power President Widodo has taken a development approach to the issue of West Papua and said West Papua is now open to journalists.

Below is an extract from a Jakarta Post Editorial "Open Papua to the world" (August 2, 2017) which partially discusses how Papua is still cordoned off.

Extract

"But none of these efforts have been viewed positively by the outside world because the government continues to cordon off Papua. Despite Jokowi's pledge early in his administration to give foreign journalists greater access to Papua, his government has maintained a policy that makes it difficult for members of the international media to operate in the region. Today, an interagency "clearing house" continues to operate to vet requests from foreign journalists and researchers before they are permitted to travel to the country's easternmost province. Earlier this year, two French journalists were deported from Timika, Papua, after failing to obtain a reporting permit. By maintaining this restriction, the government is operating like a paranoid regime, afraid the outside world may find the skeletons it hides in its closet. If the government has done much to improve the lives of Papuans, why not show it to the world? Honesty is always the best policy".

In light of the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua

AWPA urges the PIF Leaders

Because of the ongoing arrests of peaceful demonstrators in West Papua, AWPA asks the Forum leaders to urge Jakarta to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to visit West Papua to investigate the situation on the ground in the territory.

We note the large number of non-self governing territories and organizations that have various types of status at the PIF. AWPA believes it would be beneficial if West Papua also had official status at the PIF under the umbrella organization, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). The West Papuan people have been calling for dialogue with Jakarta for years and AWPA believes the PIF can play an important role in helping facilitate such a dialogue between representatives of the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government.

AWPA also urges the PIF to support the call for the re-inscription of West Papua on the UN Decolonization Committee. The Special Committee on decolonization visited New Caledonia in March 2014 and AWPA urges the PIF leaders to ask the Committee to also visit West Papua on a fact finding mission to investigate how the West Papuan people have fared under Indonesian rule. It is an accepted fact that the so-called act of free choice in 1969 was a farce and the UN has a moral responsibility to the West Papuan people for that tragic event.

Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
Secretary
AWPA (Sydney)

Source: http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/media-release-open-letter-to-pacific.html.

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