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Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend James Bhagwan Message to PIF on West Papua

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For General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend James Bhagwan, he hopes the Australian government will step up in regards to the West Papua issue.

“The elephant in the room at this week’s leaders meeting is West Papua – particularly with an escalation of violence against Papuans in the provinces,” Reverend Bhagwan said as the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting officially begins today with Fiji as Chair.

“Foreign leaders need to speak up with one voice on the West Papua issue.”

“I hope that with a new Australian Government and foreign minister here and the prime minister here, that Australia will step up in this space, they have an important role to play particularly as the country that’s between the Pacific and Indonesia as a close relationship.

“I think they can leverage that relationship. And I think our Pacific countries that have diplomatic ties and other relationships with Indonesia can leverage that.”
He said Indonesia wanted to be part of the international community. It wanted to be recognised in that way.“We’ve just had the G-20 Summit for foreign ministers in Bali, talking about big security issues. This is a security issue. This is a human rights issue.” Fiji’s Head of Chancery at theEmbassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Suva, Mayuzar Adamy, when asked if the West Papua issue would be something they hoped would be resolved soon, he replied: “Indonesia is resolved for a peaceful West Papua

to remain united with its brothers and sisters in Indonesia.”

With Indonesia as one of the forum’s dialogue partners, Mr Adamy wished every success for the PIF to remain united as one organisation. “Indonesia welcomes and supports PIF’s resolve to realise the 2050 Blue Pacific Continent.” Meanwhile, Reverend Bhagwan said they, through their member churches, have had first-hand experience on what was happening in West Papua.

“We receive regular updates from them and throughout other networks on what is happening in Papua with photos, videos, that information and direct reports. So, we know that the situation is getting worse.”The Ask to Forum Leaders He said significant displacement of indigenous Papuans had been noted by Human Rights experts where an estimate of over 100,000 people have been displaced.

“And so, the ask is very simple. What we ask is for Indonesia to facilitate the UN Human Rights team to come into power and verify these reports and be able to move forward on that. And so that’s all we’re asking.”

He said Indonesia had used COVID-19 to hold back but now COVID was being dealt with and protocols were in place.

“What’s holding them back from allowing the U.N., of which they’re a member, to come in and investigate and verify whether those are credible? Reports or not. From outside, we strongly believe that they are,” the reverend said.

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