AWPA calls on Turnbull to raise West Papua rights violations with Jakarta

West Papua supporters protest in Sydney during President Joko Widowo's visit last week. Image: AWPA

An Australian-based West Papuan solidarity group today called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to raise the issues of human rights violations and self-determination heads with Indonesia.

Turnbull is travelling to Jakarta to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA_) leadership summit in Jakarta from today until Tuesday.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and Indonesia is the current chair.

The theme of the summit is “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean”.

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) said: “While in Jakarta, the Prime Minister has a chance to discuss the issue of West Papua with the Indonesian President, something he did not do on Jokowi’s visit to Sydney last weekend.”

Supporters of West Papua protested during Jokowi’s visit to Sydney last week.

The AWPA statement said it wanted Turnbull follow the “courageous stand” of seven Pacific countries which raised West Papua at the United Nation’s 34th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva last week.

Grave concerns
The Vanuatu Minister of Justice and Community Development, Ronald K Warsal, representing a coalition of seven Pacific countries – Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu — raised grave concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.

Collins said: “There are an increasing number of bilateral visits between Australian and Indonesian officials and AWPA believes that these bilateral visits present an opportunity for an open and frank exchange on how to improve the human rights situation in West Papua.

“We urge the Prime Minister to take the issue of West Papua seriously. There is no point in ignoring West Papua. The issue is not going away.”

In concluding his statement in Geneva, the Vanuatu minister said: “Mr President, as I close, we believe that challenges of West Papua must be brought back to the agenda of the United Nations”.

The AWPA statement called on the Australian government to support this call from Pacific leaders.

Also in Geneva, a church-backed coalition called on Indonesia to open greater access to West Papua for international journalists, independent observers, human rights organisations and the International Red Cross.

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

A World Council of Churches-hosted international consultation on West Papua in Geneva on 22-24 February 2017. Image: Victor Mambor/Tabloid Jubi
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