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FAC 'head in the sand' over West Papuan suffering

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The 2016 human rights petition in the name of Maire Leadbeater called for the Government to advocate that the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression visit West Papua and for New Zealand to condemn the arrest and intimidation of peaceful protestors. The petition was endorsed by several human rights groups, academics and prominent Church leaders including the heads of the Anglican and Catholic Churches (Cardinal John Dew and Archbishop Philip Richardson). The Committee has turned down the petition’s appeal and instead opted for a conclusion that amounts to an ineffective ‘business as usual approach’ that amounts to little more than occasional inoffensive chats with Indonesian authorities and comments during the UN Universal Periodic Review process.

‘While I am pleased to hear that the Government does not deny that there are human rights breaches taking place in West Papua, I am appalled that Ministry officials have told the Committee that there is doubt about the practice of torture in West Papua. This flies in the face of extensive documentation from numerous human rights, church and academic reports all of which describe the practices of torture as endemic. The US State Department in its annual Country report on Indonesia also regularly records allegations of security forces killing and torturing civilians with impunity. Supporters of self-determination and freedom are particularly at risk as the 2001 murder of Theys Eluay, Chair of the West Papuan Presidium and the killing of Mako Tabuni, leader of the West Papua National Committee in 2012 illustrate. The most recent cases of young people being brutally beaten by the security forces took place in Nabire in July 2017. In this instance around a 100 young people were arrested over several days in response to peaceful protests - triggered by nothing more than the actions of a young man delivering leaflets.’

‘There is a growing consensus based on documented evidence that the indigenous people are experiencing ‘slow genocide’ as a result of Indonesian abuse, decades of displacement and the neglect of the basic health and environmental rights. But New Zealand is missing in action while other small Pacific nations such as Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands stand up for the West Papuan people and their fundamental rights in the United Nations and at other international forums. ‘

West Papua Action Auckland notes that some members of the Committee advocated working with other Pacific countries at the UN. West Papua Action Auckland is now approaching all political parties seeking a clear policy statement on whether or not they support self-determination for West Papua. New Zealand’s shameful acquiescence in this horror story in our neighbourhood must end.

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