Almost 1700 arrested in West Papua demonstrations

Reports from Indonesia indicate police arrested almost 1700 people in West Papua for taking part in a series of demonstrations across the region.

Most have since been released.

In the wake of the arrests, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, not for the first time, was pressed about the rights situation in West Papua.

“The government is concerned about these matters,” he told parliament, “and the government wants to see an improvement in the situation in that part of the world.”

“The government does not believe that megaphone diplomacy will serve that objective.”

Politicians in Australia have frequently claimed that the economic and social plight of the indigenous people of Indonesia’s West Papua region was improving.

But a new report called ‘We will Lose Everything’, based on a fact finding mission the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Brisbane, concludes otherwise.

It’s traditional for West Papuans to demonstrate around May the 1st.

This date is the anniversary of transfer of administration in the former Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963, a process in which Papuans were not consulted.

But this year they were also demonstrating their support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, as well as the International Parliamentarians for West Papua.

The IPWP, a network of politicians from around the world who support self-determination for West Papua and are concerned about ongoing human rights abuses against Papuans, held a summit in London last week.

Attended by MPs from the wider Pacific, Europe and Britain, as well as Liberation Movement leaders such as Benny Wenda, the summit resulted in a declaration calling for an internationally-supervised vote on independence in West Papua.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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