West Papua supporters to target Pacific Islands Forum who must address the situation of a people threatened with genocide
20 August 2006
The participants at the successful weekend seminar 'West Papua: the Hidden Pacific Conflict' unanimously resolved to take the West Papua issue to the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum nations who will be meeting in Tonga in October.
The resolution calls for the Pacific Islands Forum to grant observer status to West Papuan representatives and for the Pacific Islands Forum to mount a fact-finding mission to visit West Papua.
Seminar speakers West Papuan Baptist leader Socratez Sofyan Yoman and Australian academic John Wing both emphasise that the people now believe that the word ‘genocide’ is appropriate to their situation. West Papuans say that only this strong word reflects the direct and indirect threats to their survival as a people.
The seminar participants agreed that the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua have been gravely disadvantaged by being left out of the Forum deliberations. They have many problems which are to some extent shared by their neighbours: environmental devastation, illegal logging and an epidemic of HIV/Aids. But what is worse the West Papuan people carry the additional burdens of living with ongoing military and intelligence operations as well as displacement from their traditional lands to make way for a continuous stream of new transmigrants.
The Forum has expressed concern about human rights abuses in West Papua in recent years, but was inexplicably silent on the issue in 2005. This year the plight of the Papuan people was highlighted by 43 asylum seekers who braved a dangerous sea journey to escape deadly persecution. The Forum leaders cannot continue to ignore this human tragedy on their doorstep.
Rev Socratez Sofyan now begins a 3 week tour of Aotearoa and is available for interviews. His schedule is available.