Tag Archives: UN Human Rights Council

West Papua diplomatic cause advances in Brussels

A coalition of Pacific Island nations has called on the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states to back West Papuan self-determination.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands gave a joint statement at the group’s Council of Ministers in Brussels.

Johnny Blades has been following developments.

 

Transcript

JOHNNY BLADES: In Brussels the other day, this  African, Caribbean and Pacific bloc heard from a Vanuatu government MP who was representing this Pacific coalition of seven countries which also is a network of NGO, civil society and church groups as well, who are saying that the world community has to act now on human rights abuses in Papua, but specifically to push Indonesia to have a legitimate self-determination process for the West Papuans, because questions about the legitimacy of the self-determination process by which Papua was incorporated into Indonesia back in the 1960s, questions over that are really gaining momentum at the moment. This follows on from the Coalition’s two recent representations at the UN level on Papua: that is, last September at the UN General Assembly, and then in March at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

BEN ROBINSON-DRAWBRIDGE: So how did the other countries in this group react to this call from their Pacific members?

JB: The Caribbean and African countries were signalling strong support for this, to have a resolution urging a proper self-determination process for the Papuans. But the Papua New Guinea ambassador at the meeting in Brussels spoke out against it. He actually said that the group shouldn;t push too hard at this. He suggested that a fact-finding mission to Papua is necessary for the African, Caribbean and Pacific group to conduct first in order to get a clearer picture of the situation. Remember PNG of course is right next door to West Papua and its proximity to this huge Asian country is a point of great sensitivity.

BRD: Have other Pacific groups like the Melanesian Spearhead Group or even the Pacific Forum, have they made similar representations on West Papua?

JB: They have attempted to, really. This issue has been brought up at both of those bodies many years ago, and particularly for the Melanesian Spearhead Group it was a huge issue because Melanesians in these countries feel strongly about West Papuan self-determination. It’s just that their leadership have not been able to find a unified position on it. And for instance since Indonesia has come in to the MSG as an observer and now an associate member, this issue has not advanced. So they haven’t been able to take it up at UN or ACP levels. And it’s much the same with the Forum: there’s not a unified stance on it. So the group of seven Pacific countries here who took up the issue in Brussels have really just thought ‘we’ll go ahead and do what we have to on our own’ because the Forum and the MSG, they seem to be saying, have failed on the West Papua issue.

BRD: Do any of the other countries in this (ACP) group, do they have significant political clout to be able to make a difference on this issue?

JB: They aren’t powerhouses on the world stage, most of these countries. But I think if there was to be this bloc of 79 countries suddenly taking it up at the UN General Assembly, that is significant in itself, and it would really add to the international pressure on Jakarta to maybe look for a new kind of solution to this simmering discontent in Papua.

West Papua diplomatic cause advances in Brussels was originally published on PAPUAPost.com

Call for more access to West Papua

RadioNZ – A church-backed coalition has called on Indonesia to open greater access to West Papua for international journalists, independent observers, human rights organizations and the International Red Cross.

International consultation on West Papua 22-24 February 2017 in Geneva, hosted by the World Council of Churches.

International consultation on West Papua 22-24 February 2017 in Geneva, hosted by the World Council of Churches. Photo: Victor Mambor

The call came at an international consultation hosted by the World Council of Churches with the International Coalition on Papua in Geneva.

Also in Geneva this week, at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, seven Pacific Island countries delivered a statement about their concern over rights abuses in West Papua.

The WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who visited Papua in 2012 said the organisation supports the struggle for West Papuan human rights, and urges an end to ongoing violence and impunity.

He said the WCC backed the call for social and economic justice through serious dialogue and a concrete political process that seeks to address root causes of the present problems.

The round-table gathering included civil society proponents, human rights experts and diplomats who examined current patterns of human rights abuses in West Papua.

The gathering coincides with the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where seven Pacific nations this week raised concern about a lack of justice over serious and prolonged rights abuses in West Papua.

Indonesia denied allegation that it failed to address rights abuses in Papua, saying it always endeavoured to address violations, takes preventative measures and delivers justice.

Protesters are resisting police using water cannons during a protest by mostly university students from Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta on December 1, 2016.

Protests in West Papua in 2016. Photo: AFP

However, the WCC website reported that this week’s consultation in Geneva had shown growing level of international concern about Papua.

Victor Mambor of the Papua Coalition for Law Enforcement and Human Rights said that the civil society group made a number of recommendation to the government of Indonesia.

As well as demanding open access to Papua for international journalists and human rights groups they called for ensuring

“that perpetrators of the police and military responsible for past and present human rights violations in West Papua are prosecuted in public and fair trials, resulting in the appropriate sentences for perpetrators and the restitution, compensation and rehabilitation of victims”.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches based in Fiji, Rev. Francois Pihaate, said churches in the region were very concerned about violence in Papua.

West Papuan journalist Victor Mambor.

West Papuan journalist Victor Mambor. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

“How can we as churches be ignorant of what is going on outside our own world? That is why we as churches are concerned,” he said.

A member of the Indonesian mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Denny Abdi, disputed the veracity of claims that nearly 5000 Papuans were arrested last year for peacefully demonstrating their independence aspirations.

However, the WCC’s West Papuans representatives have said there is no trust between the people of West Papua and the government in Jakarta, rendering it “not possible to talk heart to heart about what is going on”.

“We have to talk, ” said one member of the WCC’s Papua chapter. “As a church the prophetic voice needs to go beyond boundaries.”

Demonstrators march in Timika in West Papua.

Demonstrators march in Timika in West Papua. Photo: Supplied

Veronica Koman of the Papua Itu Kita based in Jakarta said the government of Indonesia has failed to address the root problem, which stems from Papua‘s controversial incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s.

“The West Papuan people will not stop screaming for independence until the root cause is addressed,” she said.

Call for more access to West Papua was originally published on PAPUAPost.com