The solidarity group West Papua Action Aotearoa has criticised New Zealand for not “being stronger” over growing global concern about Indonesian human rights violations in West Papua, and contrasted this with Vanuatu’s leadership.
The group was reacting to the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review into Indonesia report in Geneva last week.
“Eight countries raised issues about human rights in West Papua and it is good to see our government among them,” said Catherine Delahunty, spokesperson for West Papua Action Aotearoa, in a statement.
New Zealand called for Indonesia to uphold, respect and promote human rights obligations in West Papua, but did not call for Indonesia to immediately allow the visit of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
Of the eight countries raising the issues only Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands made direct statements calling for the visit and Australia “made a better statement” than New Zealand, calling for Indonesia to “ensure access, including by credible, independent observers”.
“In the light of recent events including the concerns around the death of Filep Karma and the attacks on demonstrators in West Papua by the state, just calling for human rights to be upheld is clearly not enough,” said Delahunty.
“We need our government to speak out strongly in all UN Forums in support of the UN Commissioner of Human Rights proposed visit to West Papua.
“The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) has supported this call and our Foreign Minister has told our group that she supports it. However the UNHR review was an opportunity missed.
“Our foreign policy position should support the position of Vanuatu whose clear, sustained challenge to the violent colonisation of West Papua by Indonesia is admirable.
“Human rights will never be upheld when a regime occupies a country against the will of the people, and other Pacific countries need to demand better, starting with greater transparency over human rights violations, opening the borders to the UN High Commissioner and all international journalists.”