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The people of West Papua must be allowed to determine their future through universally accepted processes such as elections or referenda.
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae (Pee-Ah-Tay) made the call today (Thursday, May 15) ahead of a United Nations meeting on decolonization to be held in Nadi next week.
“Church leaders met in Honiara in 2013 and called for self-determination for all Pacific people including those in West Papua whose land continues to be occupied by Indonesia,” Rev Pihaatae said.
“It is time for Indonesia to allow the people of West Papua to determine their own future in accordance with international laws and treaties.
“They must be allowed to determine how best to use their land, minerals and other resources.”
Rev Pihaatae said it was quite possible that an act of self-determination would see West Papuans choosing to enter a relationship with Indonesia.
“This is acceptable but we must allow the will of the people to be done.”
When the UN Committee on Decolonisation or Committee of 24 meets, it will discuss Maohi Nui (French Polynesia) and its return to the UN list of territories to be decolonized.
West Papua is not on this list but the PCC will lobby Pacific leaders beginning next week to sponsor the Indonesian territory’s inclusion on the C24 list.
“We are quite aware of Indonesia’s influence in the region but it is not possible to remain silent on the issue given the continued abuse of human rights, illegal detention, torture and killings by the Indonesia military,” Reverend Pihaatae said.
“Every church has a duty to speak out against injustice and we call on governments to hear this call and take action.
“We call especially on the governments of Fiji and Papua New Guinea – the Pacific representatives on C24 to listen to the cry of the people of this region and to ensure that justice is done.”
Reverend Pihaatae said this action could take the form of lobbying members of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, The Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Island Development Forum.
“Australia and New Zealand along with churches in those countries must also support self-determination in West Papua if they are to be recognized as true partners in the region,” he said.
Ultimately the PCC hopes that Pacific countries will spearhead moves which will see West Papua join the United Nations list of territories to be decolonized.
Also absent from the C24 list are the Chilean territory of Rapa Nui and Guam which is part of the United States. People in both territories have started to call for the right to self-determination.
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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