A petition signed by 24 New Zealand MPs is being sent to the Indonesian Embassy today, calling for Indonesian military restraint in West Papua.
“Threats have been made in recent weeks by military commanders that they will take strong action against anyone raising the independence movement’s “Morning Star” flag in West Papua,” petition organiser Keith Locke MP said today.
“Although two such flags are at present flying in Jayapura, and it is commendable that the Indonesian authorities are tolerating these, people displaying such flags do so under extreme risk.”
In July 1998 in Biak, West Papua, demonstrators raised the outlawed flag in peaceful protests. Human rights groups estimate up to 300 people died in the police response, with bodies dumped at sea. In another flag raising demonstration in Wamena earlier this month police tore down the flags and shot two pro-independence supporters dead, leading to further violence.
“New Zealand must support peaceful measures to address independence aspirations in West Papua, to prevent the kind of escalation into violence we witnessed in East Timor,” Mr Locke said.
The petition urges Indonesia not to proceed with action against the flag and says: “We urge that differences between the Indonesian government and West Papuan representatives as to the status of West Papua be resolved by a peaceful process of dialogue between the parties.”
It is signed by MPs Tim Barnett, Georgina Beyer, Sue Bradford, Phillida Bunkle, Kevin Campbell, Stephanie Chadwick, Helen Duncan, Harry Duynhoven, Taito Phillip Field, Martin Gallagher, Liz Gordon, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Joe Hawke, Willie Jackson, Sue Kedgley, Graham Kelly, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Keith Locke, Jill Pettis, Ross Robertson, Nandor Tanczos, Judith Tizard,Tariana Turia and Dianne Yates.
Keith Locke MP 025 528353