Tuesday, September 4, 2018

AWPA letter to Aust. Foreign Minister

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

Senator the Hon Marise Payne 
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
SenateParliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

29 August 2018

Dear Foreign Minister,

The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA)in Sydney would also like to congratulate you on your new appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

On behalf of AWPA I am writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua.

We understand that you will be attending the 49thPacific Islands Forum in Nauru. In recent years West Papua has been put back on the agenda at the Forum and we congratulate the Forum leaders for raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua in its communiqués. 

Below is an extract from AWPA’s submission to the PIF Secretariet. 

AWPA believes that West Papua should be a priority foreign policy issue for the Pacific Islands Forum. In the Vision, Values and Objectives of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism it states, "Our Pacific Vision is for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives".

Tragically, the West Papuan people, a Pacific people have yet to achieve a life free of fear.

AWPA will not go into the historical history of the West Papuan issue, as we understand you would be well aware of the issue. However, ever since Indonesia took over responsibility for the administration of the territory the West Papuan people have suffered on going human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian security forces. The so called Act of free Choice in 1969 was a farce and has never been accepted by the West Papuan people, which is why today the West Papuan people are still marching in the streets calling for a real referendum.

In 2017 there was no improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua. Human rights abuses and incidents of intimidation and torture of West Papuan activists and human rights defenders continued to be committed by the Indonesian security forces throughout the year. A number of military operations also took place in response to alleged attacks on the security forces or on vehicles operated by the Freeport copper and gold mine.  These operations leave the local people traumatised and in fear for the lives. The security forces seem to have great difficulty in distinguishing between what they term separatists and the general public.

We are continuously being told by governments that the human rights situation in West Papua is improving. 

The incidents of human rights abuses that occurred throughout 2017 prove otherwise.
Unfortunately human rights abuses have continued into 2018. Indonesia claims to be a democracy yet it continues to intimidates peaceful West Papuan activists ignoring a number of articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

West Papua is an issue of great concern and has the potential to affect relations between countries in the region. 

AWPA believes the Forum leaders should be concerned about this and do all they can to help resolve this conflict 

In light of the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua AWPA urges you and the PIF Leaders to continue to raise concern about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government and to continue to press Jakarta to allow a PIF fact-finding mission to the territory as was suggested at the 46th PIF meeting in Port Moresby”. 

We understand that Vanuatu will be submitting a draft resolution calling for West Papua to be inscribed on the United Nations de-colonisation list at next year's General Assembly.  We urge the Australian Government to support the resolution.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney) 

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