Pacific Forum Leaders asked to makecall on human rights violation in West Papua

Increased regional awareness of alleged violence and human rights violations in West Papua has convinced the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism (SSCR).

It has recommend that it becomes one of the five priority issues to be the agenda of the Pacific Forum Leaders when they meet in Papua New Guinea next month.

The recommendation will go before the Forum Officials Committee (FOC) for a final endorsement, when it meets in Suva next week.

SSCR documents obtained by PACNEWS reveal the Sub-Committee decided to act after an ‘increasing groundswell of support in the region for the people of West Papua, reflected in part by the media, particularly social media.’

In addition, the Sub-Committee received three strong submissions from various interest groups around the region advocating the peaceful resolution of the struggles of the people of West Papua.

In recommending the Sub-Committee’s suggestion for the agenda issues, Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said since the Leader’s statement in 2006, ‘proponents suggest that the human rights situation has deteriorated.’

“The Sub-Committee acknowledged the Forum’s history and regional role in assisting territories achieve self-determination, said Dame Meg.

The 2006 Forum Leaders expressed concerns about reports of violence in Papua and urged Indonesian authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of serious crimes in the Province of Papua.

Pacific Forum Leaders will be asked to consider the situation in West Papua and publicly express their concerns over human rights and to resolve difference between all parties by peaceful means.

In June this year, the Melanesian Spearhead Group admitted the United Liberation Movement for West Papua as an observer member while Indonesia was granted associate membership.

From submissions made to the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism, three possible actions were recommended. These include a fact finding ministerial group from the Pacific Islands Forum to West Papua, include West Papua on the UN Decolonisation List and impose sanctions against Indonesian companies and government enterprises found to be committing human rights abuses.

However, the Sub Committee recommends that Leaders consider additional alternative options – ‘to seek political dialogue with Indonesia, through the Post Forum Dialogue process to discuss human rights situation in West Papua, seek to engage at the ministerial level through the Forum Foreign Ministers and direct the Forum Secretariat to maintain a watching brief and submit a report to the next Leaders meeting.’

“Addressing the issue of West Papua issue has the potential to create tension amongst Forum members and with Indonesia given the bilateral relations members have with Indonesia and its status as a Post Forum Dialogue Partner, acknowledges the SSCR report.

The decision on whether the issue will be taken up to the Leaders in Port Moresby next month will be determined by the Forum Officials Committee.