Indonesia has accused a number of Pacific Islands countries of interfering in its domestic matters regarding West Papua at the United Nations.
The accusation during the UN General Assembly came after leaders from six Pacific countries - Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu - expressed concern about human rights abuses in Papua.
Pacific leaders at the UN General Assembly expressed concern about human rights abuses in Papua. Left to right: Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai; Solomon Islands Prime Minsister Manasseh Sogavare; Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva; Nauru President Baron Waqa; Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine; Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga Photo: UN Photo
Calls for Papuan self-determination rights to be respected were also made by some of the leaders during this 71st session of the general assembly debate.
"Human rights violations in West Papua and the pursuit for self-determination of West Papua are two sides of the same coin," said the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare.
"Many reports on human rights violations in West Papua emphasise the inherent corroboration between the right to self-determination that results in direct violations of human rights by Indonesia in its attempts to smother any form of opposition."
In a call echoed by the other Pacific leaders, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine urged the UN Human Rights Council to initiate a credible investigation of violations in West Papua.
While Indonesia's Vice-President, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, did not address Papua in his speech at the session, Jakarta's response to Pacific governments' criticism came from an official at Indonesia's permanent mission to the UN.
Nara Masista Rakhmatia said her government was shocked to hear the island countries' claims about Papua when discussion at the session should have been about sustainable development goals and the global response to climate change.
"The same leaders chose instead to violate the UN charter by interfering in other countries' sovereignty and violating its territorial integrity," she said.
She said her government categorically rejected accusations of rights abuses in Papua, and that they reflected an unfortunate misunderstanding of the history of Indonesia and its current progressive developments.
Ms Rakhmatia singled out Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in particular, suggesting other countries with human rights problems shouldn't point the finger at Indonesia.
"Their politically motivated statements were designed to support separatist groups in the said provinces [West Papua and Papua] who have consistently engaged in inciting public disorder and in conducting armed terrorist attacks."
The official reiterated Jakarta's stand that it had mechanisms in place to deal with human rights abuses in Papua.
"With such a vibrant national democracy, coupled with the highest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights at all levels, it would be nearly impossible for any human rights allegations to go un-noticed and un-scrutinised," she said.
Jakarta, however, maintains restrictions on access to Papua for leading international humanitarian and rights organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International.
Furthermore, Indonesian police chiefs in Papua region have taken a strict line on a series of large, peaceful demonstrations by Papuans calling for self-determination in recent months, resulting in mass arrests in some cases.
The prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, said that the UN could not and must not ignore the "deplorable situations" in Papua by hiding "behind the guise of the principles of non-interference and sovereignty".
“The UN must act on this issue and find a workable solution to give autonomy to the indigenous peoples of West Papua," he said.
Leaders of six Pacific Island nations have highlighted concern about West Papua while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.
At the general debate of the Assembly's 71st session, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu called for UN action on alleged human rights abuses in Papua.
Calls for West Papuan self-determination rights to be respected were also made by some of the leaders.
Johnny Blades filed this report.
Human rights abuses in Papua region were linked by the Solomon Islands prime minister to the pursuit of self-determination by indigenous West Papuans. Manasseh Sogavare said there was a case to challenge the legality of the controversial, UN-sanctioned process by which Papua was incorporated into Indonesia.
"Human rights violations in West Papua and the pursuit for self-determination of West Papua are two sides of the same coin. Many reports on human rights violations in West Papua emphasise the inherent corroboration between the right to self-determination that results in direct violations of human rights by Indonesia in its attempts to smother any form of opposition."
In a call echoed by the other Pacific leaders, the Marshall Islands president, Hilda Heine, pushed for the situation to be independently probed.
"Given the importance of human rights to my country, I request that the UN Human Rights Council initiate a credible and independent investigation of alleged human rights violations in West Papua."
Jakarta's response to the speeches came from an official at Indonesia's permanent mission to the UN. Nara Masista Rakhmatia said her government categorically rejected accusations of rights abuses in Papua, accusing the governments concerned of interfering in Indonesia's sovereignty. She singled out Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, suggesting other countries with human rights problems shouldn't point the finger at Indonesia.
"These countries are using the general Assembly to advance their domestic agenda, and for some countries to divert attention from political and social problems at home.The said countries are also using false and fabricated information as the basis of their statement. The conduct of these countries undermines the UN charter and are detrimental to the credibility of this assembly."
The official reiterated Jakarta's stand that it has mechanisms in place to deal with human rights abuses in Papua. Yet the prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga said that the UN must not ignore what is happening to Papua's indigenous Melanesians.
"It must not allow actions in the guise of principles of non-interference and sovereignty as reasons for inaction. The UN must act on this issue and find a workable solution to give autonomy to the Indigenous Peoples of West Papua."
Nara Masista Rakhmatia said the Pacific leaders' statements on Papua were "politically motivated and designed to assist separatist groups which have violently attacked civilians". However, it's understood to be the first time so many governments have raised concern about West Papua at a General Assembly debate.
3) Indonesia responds to leaders of six Pacific countries on West Papua claims
Published On:September 25, 2016Posted by PNG Today
A representative of Indonesia attacked leaders of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga for what she claims was ‘lack of understanding on the history and progressive developments’ happening in these two provinces.’
She exhorted the Pacific Leaders to stick to discussing the impacts of climate change than ‘interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
“Indonesia is shocked to hear that at this august body where leaders are gathered to debate the early implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the transformation of our collective actions and other global challenges such as climate change, of which the Pacific countries are affected the most, the said leaders chose instead to violate the UN charter by interfering in other country’s sovereignty and violating its territorial integrity.’
“We categorically reject the continuing insinuations in their statements. They clearly reflect an unfortunate lack of understanding of the history, current developments and on-going progressive developments in Indonesia including the provinces of Papua and West Papua.’
The Indonesian diplomat said the statements by the six Pacific Leaders were ‘politically motivated designed to support separatist groups in the two provinces who have consistently engaged inciting public disorder and conducting armed terrorist attacks on civilian and security personnel.’
“Evidently, the statements by those leaders clearly violates the purposes and objectives of the UN Charter and violates the principles of friendly nations amongst states as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
She claimed the Pacific states are using the General Assembly to advance their domestic agenda and for some countries to divert attention from political and social problems at home.
“These countries are using false and fabricated information as the basis of their statements. The conduct of these countries undermine the UN charter and are detrimental to the credibility of this assembly, said the Indonesian diplomat.
She maintains that Indonesia’s commitment to the protection of human rights is unquestionable. Indonesia is a founding member of the UN Human Rights Council and has sat as member of the council for three previous periods and is now serving its fourth term.
“Indonesia is among few countries who have a continued national action plan on Human Rights, active national and robust national commission on human rights since 1993, vibrant civil society and free media. We have a full fledge democracy in full function.
“It would be nearly impossible for any human rights allegations to go unnoticed and unscrutinised. We have domestic mechanisms in place at the national level and at provincial level in Papua and West Papua.”
She said Indonesia will continue to focus on the development of Papua and West Papua provinces in the best interest of all and ended with a well-known saying in the Asia Pacific region, ‘when one points the index finger to others, the thumb finger automatically points to one’s face.