AUCKLAND - The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) has urged leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to continue their support of West Papua.
In an open letter, AWPA called on the Forum’s 18 members to keep raising the issue of human rights abuses with Indonesia’s government and continue applying pressure on Jakarta to allow a fact-finding mission to the Indonesian-ruled territory.
AWPA also urged that the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression be allowed to visit West Papua, with the Pacific Islands Forum driving this call.
“West Papua should also be given an official voice within the Forum itself, under the umbrella organisation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua,” AWPA said.
“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 Sydney secretary Joe Collins said the group was ultimately grateful for the support of the Forum.
“I would first like to thank the Forum leaders for discussing and raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua in the official communiqués’ 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.”
In March, seven Pacific island nations raised grave concerns at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding human rights violations in West Papua.
Over the past year, eight Pacific Island states have also joined the Pacific Coalition for West Papua in calling for human rights and self-determination to be upheld in the territory.
AWPA's call comes after a month of crackdowns on peaceful displays of freedom of expression by Indonesian security forces and a fatal shooting.
Yulianus Pigai died at the hands of security forces earlier this month in a shooting which also left 16 others wounded in the Deiyai district, leaving some to question whether West Papua will ever see an end to violence.
AWPA’s call also comes in the same month a petition spearheaded by West Papua Action Auckland asking for similar support from New Zealand’s government was rejected.
A British team are currently swimming across Lake Geneva to deliver a petition calling for self-determination in West Papua.