PNG urges UN visit to West Papua

PNG urges UN visit to West Papua

Papua New Guinea has reiterated a call for UN representatives to visit West Papua amid widespread protests.

Protesters in Jayapura.
Protesters in Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

Indonesia has banned violent protests and separatist speeches in the two Papuan provinces, where at least 10 people have been killed and dozens arrested.

The Southeast Asian country has been struggling to contain unrest since widespread pro-independence demonstrations began two weeks ago.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Soroi Eoe told parliament in Port Moresby on Tuesday that the latest unrest in Papua was a “sad situation”.

He said PNG respects Indonesia’s sovereignty, but the issue needs to be addressed by the office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner.

“Vanuatu has taken a step but Papua New Guinea has to be very careful as to how we address the issue because of the fact that we share the border,” said Mr Eoe.

“On the other side is West Papua, on this side is Papua New Guinea. So, our responsibility first is to our own people.”

Responding to Soroi Eoe, opposition MP Garry Juffa warned Papuans displaced by the conflict could spill over the border to PNG.

In January, Indonesia made an invitation in principle to the Human Rights Commissioner’s office, but this has not yet eventuated.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape on Monday condemned the violence in Papua saying “No human beings deserve to be killed, especially on their own land,” in a televised press conference.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor called for calm in Papua, saying the recent turmoil made a UN visit even more important, according to a statement released on Monday.

At the forum’s August meeting in Tuvalu, Pacific leaders called for the UN visit to be finalised.

Meanwhile, PNG’s former prime minister has called on Indonesia’s leaders to prevent killings in West Papua.

Peter O’Neill expressed sadness at the unrest, saying that the killing of citizens in West Papua was unacceptable.

He urged Indonesia’s government to open up dialogue with West Papuan leaders to resolve the issue.

Mr O’Neill, who was removed as prime minister in May, said Pacific Islands countries must continue to stress the need for a peaceful response from Indonesia’s authorities.

Source: RNZ

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