Indonesia’s comments on West Papua fail to impress Churches

West Papua independence movement protest campaign in Samoa

The Pacific Conference of Churches says it is unimpressed by comments made by Indonesian officials about a protest over West Papua at the recent Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Summit in Apia.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, says protesters supporting West Papua independence should have sought a government permit before they staged the protest.

About 30 local people participated in the protest in front of the hotel in which the Pacific Island Forum leaders summit is held in Samoa.Ambassador Yahya said the issue of Papua was not on the agenda at this Forum meeting.

An Indonesian foreign affairs Ambassador Yahya said the issue of Papua was not on the agenda at this Forum meeting. An Indonesian foreign affairs official says the Forum meeting is not the place to raise the West Papua issue.

He says the 1969 integration of West Papua into Indonesia has been relegated to the history pages.

However, The General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend Francois Pihaatae, said a protest that took place during the forum supporting West Papua’s independence was nothing new.

Mr Pihaatae said it illustrated the strong support from some. He urged all Pacific nations to express their concern as seen in Samoa.

Indonesia’s Ambassador was at the meeting and condemned the protest and accused Pacific Islanders of being misled on a human rights situation that had largely improved.

But on behalf of the churches, Mr Pihaatae says the demonstrators believe that people in West Papua are still struggling.

“Whatever the Indonesian said, I will never, never believe that something is fine in West Papua because we have evidence that [they are] living out every day, the killing of the people,” Reverend Francois Pihaatae said.

The organiser of the [protest in Samoa, Jerome Mika, says Samoans have had the right to freedom of expression since independence and he said the demonstrators were encouraging Pacific island leaders to support such freedom for West Papua.




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News category: Asia Pacific.

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