Friday, February 8, 2013

Media Release-West Papuan freedom fighter blocked from NZ Parliament

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media Release 8 February 2013

West Papuan freedom fighter blocked from NZ Parliament

The Australia West Papua Association is greatly concerned that a democratic country like New Zealand is not allowing West Papuan leader Benny Wenda to speak at its Parliament House . 

Joe Collins of AWPA said this is the second time  in just over a week that Indonesian has tried to block the issue of West Papua being raised.  After  showing the documentary "Goodbye Indonesia," about West Papua on Aljazeera TV, Aljazeera responded to pressure from the Indonesian Government by adding   comments and responses by the Indonesian Government at the end of the film. And now we have the NZ Government also bowing to pressure from the Indonesian Government by not allowing Benny Wenda to speak at Parliament House. It looks like trade again trumps human rights.

Info Joe Collins
+61. 2 4077 857 97

Report below


 West Papuan freedom fighter blocked from Parliament - Greens

Fri, 08 Feb 2013 6:22p.m.

Benny Wenda

Parliament's new Speaker is embroiled in his first fight, before he's even had a full day in the debating chamber. 
West Papuan freedom fighter Benny Wenda is on his way to New Zealand, and while he's spoken at parliaments around the world, he won't be allowed to here.
Mr Wenda is a colourful character. He starts his talks with a traditional greeting, and then a song. He's done this all around the world – at the British Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, and even the United Nations.
But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says he’s being blocked from talking here.
“Benny Wenda has spoken at many parliaments around the world, but it appears the New Zealand Parliament will shut its doors.”
Mr Wenda says the people of West Papua have suffered atrocities at the hands of the Indonesian military.
In 2002 he was arrested for promoting independence. A year later he escaped prison and fled to the United Kingdom, where he was granted political asylum.
In 2011 Interpol issued a red alert at the request of the Indonesian government. But last year, after an investigation, that was removed. It was deemed to be politically motivated. 
The Greens, Labour and Mana applied to the new speaker David Carter to have a function here, in the west foyer, but that was refused.
Labour MP Maryan Street says the decision goes against the spirit of Parliament.
“Parliament is exactly the place where people's points of view should be aired,” she says.
In the past, Parliament has been used for everything from Ahmed Zaoui's book launch, to a wedding.
But the Greens say the Government doesn't want to upset the Indonesians, a big trading partner.
“I think it's pretty clear the Foreign Affairs Minister has had some influence on this decision,” says Mr Norman.
Mr Wenda will bring with him West Papua human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson – most famous for being Julian Assange's legal advisor.
The function will now be held across the road from Parliament.
The Speaker's office, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs wouldn't be interviewed for this story.
3 News was simply told the function didn't meet the guidelines. There was no further explanation.
3 News

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