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WEST PAPUA: Peace journalist seeks NZ support amid Indonesian crackdown

Peace negotiator Octovianus Mote … exiled from West Papua by the Indonesian government in 1999. Image: Jamie Small/PMC

Monday, May 13, 2013

Item: 8286

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Centre / Pacific Media Watch): A prominent West Papuan journalist and activist has visited New Zealand to gather support for West Papua’s inclusion in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)  while an Indonesian government crackdown was killing and arresting Papuan demonstrators.

A former Papua regional editor of Kompas newspaper, Octovianus Mote visited in his role as chair of the five elected “peace negotiator” representatives of West Papua.

He says his visit has raised support among a solidarity group in New Zealand, but he doesn’t think the government is supportive of the cause.

West Papua marked the 50th anniversary of Indonesian occupation on May 1.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement condemning the actions of Indonesian police and military forces which reportedly killed at least two pro-independence protesters.

The authorities also arrested at least 20 on April 30 and May 1.

Navi says that over the last year her office has received 26 reports of alleged human rights violations in West Papua, many of which are linked to law enforcement officials.

Peaceful negotiations
“I think that peaceful negotiations are possible, but on the other hand, Indonesian troops continue to act against civilians in West Papua,” says Mote.

He says West Papuans have asked permission to exercise peaceful freedom of expression and gathering, but the [Indonesian] government would not allow it.

Previously a Netherlands colony, control of West Papua was handed over to Indonesian dictator Sukarno by a UN authority in 1963 in disputed circumstances. This was part of a broader, militarised struggle by Sukarno to force Western colonial rule out of the area.

In 2001, the region was granted a special autonomy by the Indonesian government. But Mote says the special autonomy status has failed.

The predominantly Melanesian people of West Papua do not identify – ethnically or culturally – with their Javanese colonisers.

Mote says Indonesia is making a concerted effort to fully colonialise West Papua. There is a constant influx of Asian Indonesians to the region, accompanied by oppression and killing of the indigenous people of West Papuan.

Of the 3.5 million people living in West Papua, Mote says currently only 48 percent are West Papuans. He believes that in 10 years’ time, this number could be as low as 20 percent.

“This is a crime against humanity. This is a genocide process,” he says.

Read the full story here

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About the authors

PMC profile photograph

Asia-Pacific Journalism

AUT journalism school

Filed by an AUT University postgraduate student journalist.

PMC profile photograph

Jamie Small

Asia-Pacific Journalism reporter

Jamie Small is a student journalist completing his Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies at AUT University.

PMC profile photograph

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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