After decades of maintaining a relatively neutral stance, the Papua New Guinea government will finally make a strong representation to Indonesia to raise concerns over alleged human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military in the West Papua region.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in an interview with EMTV on Friday that the Foreign Affairs Department will deliver a diplomatic note expressing the concerns of Papua New Guinea citizens over the two Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua to the Indonesian government.
The response comes days after representatives of more than 4000 Lutheran women called on Peter O’Neill to look into the difficulties faced by West Papuans.
The public appeal for government attention to the West Papuan cause was made by Rose Muingepe, a Lutheran Women’s representative who was attending a conference in Mumeng outside of Lae City.
“We are asking the government to raise the plight of the West Papuans on the floor of Parliament. We know that women are being raped, men are being tortured and we want our government to pay attention to the issue.
Prime Minister O’Neill said a diplomatic note would be passed on to the Indonesian government through PNG’s Jakarta embassy.
“We need to respect international conventions made in organisations like the United Nations. We also need to respect that Indonesia is a part of those organisations.
“Through those conventions we will deliver a diplomatic note raising the concerns of our citizens over some of the reports that we are getting from West Papua on human rights abuses.”
This is the first time, in years that a Papua New Guinean prime minister has acknowledged human rights abuses in Papua.
Prime Minster O’Neill will also be bringing the West Papua issue to the attention of the Indonesian President in an upcoming democracy conference in Bali later this year.
At last month’s Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific Scoop’s Henry Yamo reported following an interview with Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini that Pacific leaders did not back Vanuatu’s supports for West Papua.