PNG opposition leader calls for “honest” take on Papua

Don Polye Photo: SUPPLIED
Don Polye Photo: SUPPLIED

RNZ – Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader says his country and Australia need to play a greater role in responding to human rights abuses in neighbouring West Papua.

Don Polye said basic human rights of West Papuans continue to be repressed by Indonesian authorities and security forces, requiring a more “honest” approach from neighbouring countries.

He said the problem had a set of direct consequences for PNG, yet its government continued to turn a blind eye to what was going on.

Mr Polye said recent remarks by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop playing down reports of rights abuses in Papua were unfortunate.

“She said that there is not enough justification or evidence to show if there is any human rights abuse along the border between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. I believe that Australia should assess the situation more closely, in partnership with Indonesia as well as with Papua New Guinea, to be honest about it and to look at the issues more carefully,” he said.

Mr Polye said as party to international conventions on human rights, PNG and Indonesia needed to engage more to address the situation in Papua.

He said that West Papuan calls for a legitimate self-determination process could no longer be ignored.

A need for meaningful dialogue at both international and bilateral level, he said, also required leadership from the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

However the MSG’s full members – PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia’s Kanaks – are divided over advancing the Papua issue.

Governments of PNG and Fiji in particular appear opposed to granting the United Liberation Movement for West Papua full membership in the group.

They also firmly support Indonesian territorial control over Papua.

Yet Mr Polye says the example of France in granting a self-determination referendum to its Melanesian territory of New Caledonia shows that the Papua question could be solved peacefully.

Cross border flow between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Cross border flow between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades


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