Goff urged not to repeat East Timor mistakes

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke has welcomed the release of Foreign Affairs papers on East Timor, but is worried New Zealand is making the same mistakes again over West Papua.

According to Foreign Minister Phil Goff, “the papers show insufficient attention was paid to human rights abuses and the right of the Timorese people to self-determination.”

“However, Mr Goff is repeating the error over West Papua,” said Mr Locke. “Certainly ‘insufficient attention’ is being paid to the right of the Papuan people to self-determination.

“While supporting a dialogue between Indonesian and Papuan leaders, Mr Goff has always stopped short of supporting the right of Papuans to independence.

“There is an international campaign to get the United Nations to review the fake Act of Free Choice in 1969, whereby West Papua was officially incorporated into Indonesia. New Zealand should get behind this campaign.

“In his Friday release Mr Goff said ‘governments need to be stronger in speaking out against human rights abuses’. He needs to that with some urgency in the case of West Papua.

“On August 29 The Australian published Indonesian police plans to outlaw the main Papuan independence organization, the Papuan Presidium Council. We are still waiting for the New Zealand government’s response.

“Underlying New Zealand’s timidity when East Timor was invaded was fear of the damage it would do to our relations with the Indonesian government.

“We’ve got to be more bold over West Papua. We have to publicly challenge the serious human rights abuses being committed against the Papuan people.

“If we aren’t more upfront, and the violence in West Papua spirals out of control, we might have another tragedy on our conscience,” said Mr Locke.