PACIFIC ISLAND NATIONS CALL FOR U.N. PROBE
They claim that the human rights of natives in Papua have been violated
SEVEN Pacific island nations have called for a United Nations investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in Indonesia’s West Papua and Papua provinces, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades.
A statement to a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, read on behalf of the seven states by Vanuatu’s Justice Minister Ronald Warsal, accused Indonesia of serious human rights violations of indigenous Papuans, including extrajudicial executions of activists and beatings and fatal shootings of peaceful protesters.
The statement on Wednesday called on the council to request a comprehensive report from the high commissioner for human rights and Indonesia’s cooperation in providing unfettered access to the two provinces, which independence supporters refer to collectively as West Papua.
In a right of reply, the Indonesian delegation accused Vanuatu of “blatantly using human rights issues to justify its dubious support for the separatist movement in Papua”, and said the government’s record of protecting human rights “speaks for itself ”.
Pacific island leaders angered Indonesia last year when they used their speeches to the UN General Assembly to criticise Indonesia’s rule in West Papua. Jakarta accused them of interfering in Indonesia’s sovereignty and supporting groups that carry out armed attacks.
Warsal, who spoke on behalf of Vanuatu, Tonga, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Solomon Islands, said they also wanted to highlight the Indonesian policy of encouraging the migration of Javanese and other ethnic groups, which has led to the outnumbering of Papuans in their own land.
The Indonesian government “has not been able to curtail or halt these various and widespread violations”, he said.
“Neither has that government been able to deliver justice for the victims.”
Indonesia maintains a tight grip on West Papua and restricts journalists from reporting there. However, the independence movement appears to be increasingly well organised, with different groups now united under an umbrella organisation.
West Papua is home to the world’s largest gold mine by reserves, one of the world’s biggest copper mines and vast areas of virgin forest.