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West Papua: Dialogue needed between NZ and Jakarta

Press Release – Indonesia Human Rights Committee

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is calling on Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully to support the calls for dialogue to avert further tension and violence in West Papua. Human Rights Committee,

23 December, 2009

Media Release: Call for NZ support for dialogue in the wake of death of West Papuan leader.

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is calling on Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully to support the calls for dialogue to avert further tension and violence in West Papua. Since the death of resistance leader, Kelly Kwalik on December 16, the territory has experienced an outpouring of grief and anger within the Papuan community.

New Zealand has successfully promoted and supported dialogue for Bougainville and can now be a credible advocate for peace and dialogue again, but action needs to be taken urgently.

Rt Hon John Key,
Prime Minister,
Parliament Buildings,
Wellington

Hon Murray McCully,
Parliament Buildings,
Wellington

Dear Mr Key and Mr McCully,

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is deeply concerned about the possibility of escalating conflict in West Papua in the wake of the death of OPM (Free West Papua Movement) leader, Kelly Kwalik. We believe that an internationally mediated dialogue between Papuan representatives and the Indonesian Government is now imperative.

We call on the New Zealand Government to publicly back negotiation and dialogue as the path to peace in West Papua.

Kelly Kwalik died after he was shot by the Police Mobile Brigade and the anti-terror force Detachment 88 on December 16. He is reported to have died after being taken to hospital but the circumstances of his death have not been made clear.

Since Kelly Kwalik’s death there has been an outpouring of grief and anger within the West Papuan community, including considerable tension around the funeral arrangements and burial site. Requests for the nationalist ‘Morning Star’ flag to be flown at the time of the funeral were turned down, but his coffin was defiantly draped in the flag. There have been pro-independence demonstrations and calls for the Freeport McMoran mine to be closed, by Papuan customary leaders. Kelly Kwalik and his people were dispossessed by the mine and many believe that Freeport was indirectly responsible for his death.

The Timika Catholic Bishop John Philip Saklil, who led the service, said that Kelly Kwalik was a patriot who had dedicated his life to the land of Papua. It is widely acknowledged that in recent years Kelly Kwalik had turned from armed struggle to the pursuit of dialogue with Indonesia and support for a Zone of Peace.

Despite some claims in the Indonesian media, we believe that it is not credible that that Kelly Kwalik was responsible for the lethal attacks in the Timika area in this year and in 2002. The deaths in 2002 of 3 teachers including 2 Americans, have been subject to independent human rights investigations which indicate that the military was involved in these attacks. Not long before his death, Kelly Kwalik met with security officials and denied that he had any involvement in this year’s attacks in the mine area. We understand that the police supported his claims, refuting earlier comments from the military of OPM involvement in the attacks.

We believe that the West Papuan people and the rest of the world want answers to questions relating to the method and reasons why Kelly Kwalik died. There are also unanswered questions about the fate of those arrested at the time of the shooting
of Kelly Kwalik, especially as one the five arrested was a ten year old boy.

But most importantly, we believe that West Papua’s Pacific neighbours, including New Zealand should now join the call for the Indonesian Government to respond to the demands of the West Papuan people for peaceful dialogue. There must be a just and open process to address deep grievances including the marginalisation of the indigenous people and decades of documented cases of police and military killings and brutality. West Papua also experiences desperate health circumstances, an epidemic of HIV/Aids and rampant deforestation and environmental destruction.

It is time for New Zealand, which successfully supported peaceful negotiations for another Melanesian territory, Bougainville, to take up the cause of peace and dialogue again.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater
(for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

ENDS

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