Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Keith Locke today expressed regret at Nauru’s decision to ban West Papuan observers from this month’s Pacific Island Forum.
“New Zealand should ask Nauru to reverse its decision,” said Mr Locke.
“West Papuan representatives were present at last year’s Forum meeting, and the need for dialogue between Indonesia and West Papuan leaders was mentioned in the final communique.
“Helen Clark played a positive role in getting West Papua on the agenda last year, and it would be good to build on the progress made then.
“How can this be done if West Papuans aren’t represented at the meeting?
“The West Papuan situation could dramatically worsen if the Indonesian military starts to play a greater political role under the new president Megawati Sukarnoputri. There is the danger of a military crackdown on the independence movement, and communal violence spiralling out of control. There is already a considerable level of hostility caused by ongoing killing and human rights violations by Indonesia forces. There are many political prisoners.
“I am concerned that the Indonesian military commander of West Papua, General Simbolon, was in charge of East Timor when the killing and destruction took place there in 1999.
Franzalbert Joku, spokesperson for the Papuan Presidium Council, yesterday claimed that Australian pressure has forced Nauru to withdraw permission for the West Papuans to attend the Forum. New Zealand should strongly counter this pressure,” said Mr Locke.
“We should also counter any Australian push for the Forum not to support the Kyoto Protocol. Internationally, the Howard government has been lining up with the recalcitrant George Bush, against the interests of Pacific states, particularly the low lying ones likely to disappear if global warming comes to pass,” said Mr Locke.