Parliament shows more backbone than Foreign Minister McCully over Gaza and West Papua


This week it was good to see our Parliament speaking out strongly against the Israeli attack on a UN-run school refuge in Gaza. Meanwhile our Foreign Minister, Murray McCully continued to prevaricate on Gaza,

saying little that could upset Israel


On 31 July Green MP Kennedy Graham, moved the following motion, which was adopted unanimously:

“That this House note the comment of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the latest shelling of a school in Gaza: shameful ‘nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children. I want to make it clear that the precise location of the Jabaliya elementary girls school had been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times, as recently as last night just a few hours before the attack. They were aware of the coordinates and exact locations where these people are being sheltered’. And that this House condemn Israel’s action and calls for an immediate ceasefire to prevent the loss of further innocent life.”

West Papua was another issue where Parliament last week went one step further than either Murray McCully or the Foreign Affairs Ministry. On July 30 the MPs adopted a motion from Green MP Catherine Delahunty whereby “this House call upon the new President of Indonesia to commit to genuine media freedom in West Papua including the right of local and international journalists to report on the political situation there without risk of imprisonment or harassment by the Indonesian state.”

This was just the right time for Parliament to adopt such a motion, to try to hold the new Indonesian president Joko Widodo to his promise of more openness. Free access to West Papua by Indonesian and foreign journalists (which has been very controlled up until now) is crucial to exposing the continuing human rights violations in the territory and making it more difficult for them to continue. Last week, a visiting Papuan journalist Victor Mambor outlined the great difficulties he and his colleagues faced when trying to report the truth about the situation in West Papua today.