Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report
 

WEST PAPUA: UN chief waffles over Indonesian human rights violations


Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu (background) and UN Secretary-General António Guterres during a visit to Port Vila’s seafront … West Papua issue raised in vain. Image: Dan McGarry/Vanuatu Daily Post

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Item: 10356

By Dan McGarry
PORT VILA (Asia Pacific Report/Vanuatu Daily Post/Pacific Media Watch): : During his visit to Port Vila last weekend, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was confronted with questions about West Papua – but he waffled in his responses.

The matter was on the agenda during a bilateral meeting held between Guterres and key government officials, including Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Foreign Affairs Minister Ralph Regenvanu.

In a joint press conference, Salwai was unequivocal about Vanuatu’s continued commitment to support and help drive the decolonisation process globally, and especially in West Papua.

READ MORE: Boycott of 2019 Indonesian election successful

The UN head did little more than acknowledge the PM’s words in his own prepared remarks.

Guterres also responded to questions on the topic from the media. The following exchange occurred during a pooled interview with Agence France Presse’s Ben Bohane. He had little more to offer there.

The most serious deforestation, the most serious ecological trouble, as well as the most serious human rights abuses in the whole Pacific are happening in West Papua, Bohane said.

Shouldn’t the UN be doing more to try and stop the human right abuses, and the ecological disaster that is unfolding there?

UN ‘doing its job’
Guterres did little to raise expectations of a resolution to this crisis any time soon.

“There is a framework in the institutions, namely the human rights council… there are special procedures, there was a panel, that recently made a report on those issues, a report that was then presented internationally. Indonesia also responded,” he said.

“So the UN is doing its job, with a major concern that there and everywhere, human rights are respected.”

The problem is, he was told, that Indonesia is blocking Pacific island delegations, and they also appear to be blocking the UN Human Rights Commission from visiting West Papua.

At the moment, all international media is banned. Again, shouldn’t the UN be doing more to open up West Papua?

The Secretary-General appeared to grant that there were indeed concerns about access to the area.

“The Human Rights High Commissioner has reaffirmed availability to visit the territory, and that remains our concern, and our objective.”

So, if Indonesia says no, he was asked, is there nothing anyone can do, even the UN?

“As I said, we had the institutions working, we have a panel of experts, but there are also from our side strong commitments there and everywhere.”

Little evidence of those commitments was on display in Port Vila.

  • Dan McGarry is the media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post group. This article is republished with permission.
  • BELOW: Vanuatu-based journalist Ben Bohane raises West Papuan questions with UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his visit to Vanuatu. Video: Ben Bohane/Ginny Stein

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3

See video
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.
(cc) Creative Commons


Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.