CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS OUTRAGED

Civil Society Organisations are outraged at the escalation of brutal attacks and arbitrary killings of West Papuan people by the Indonesian security forces, as a result of the growing support for West Papua?s independence around the Pacific Region. This after Indonesian police opened fire on a group of people gathering to fundraise for Vanuatu victims of Cyclone Pam in Yahukimo, West Papua, killing one and injuring others, including a separate incident where a 17 year old West Papuan activist was allegedly tortured and killed by Indonesian Special Forces.

?Since Indonesia secured control of West Papua over 50 years ago, the West Papuan people have lived in fear in their own land, deprived of their right to self-determination and subjected to systematic genocidal acts of terror,? said Shamima Ali, Coordinator for the Fiji Women?s Crisis Centre.

?In the lead up to the next Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders meeting which will determine West Papuan membership to the MSG, it is crucial that our MSG governments and international community make a concerted effort to strongly denounce these human rights abuses including the unrelenting oppression of the West Papuans by the Indonesian government security forces,? said Ali. Ali further added that given the impending political decision by MSG on West Papua it is crucial that the U.N. appoints a special envoy for West Papua.

Recent media reports revealed Indonesia?s plan to form a Melanesian region in Indonesia by combining five of its provinces ? Papua, West Papua, Moluccas, North Moluccas and East Nusa Tenggara. It is reported that Indonesia?s President, Widodo and Moluccas Governor, Assagaff are eager to establish the Melanesian-Indonesian region which would apply for full membership to the MSG.

?Currently, Indonesia holds an ?observer? status on the MSG. However, the fact that Indonesia will now be seen as a Melanesian state will only guarantee their legitimacy and allow them equal access into the MSG as other Melanesian countries. It has been alleged by certain Papuan officials that this is a strategy by Indonesia to sabotage West Papua?s chances of becoming a full member of the MSG and with it the hopes and aspirations of a people to their right to self-determine themselves.?

?Our government leaders must be alerted to the fact that there are adverse implications on West Papua and its people, if Fiji continues to strengthen their economic, trade and military relations with Indonesia, while ignoring the escalating violence perpetrated by the Indonesian government on the people of West Papua.?

?In light of Prime Minister Bainimarama?s campaign to dispense with colonial symbols from our national flag for a truly independent Fiji, it would be encouraging to see the Fiji government lead the way in supporting other nations notably West Papua, who are struggling to free themselves from foreign control.?

For further comment contact: Shamima Ali (999 2875)

FWCC