Government ignoring lessons of East Timor when it comes to West Papua

John Key and Murray McCully’s hands-off approach to human rights atrocities in West Papua is in stark contrast to the actions taken by previous New Zealand governments on similar abuses by Indonesia in East Timor, the Green Party said today.

While at the Pacific Islands Forum, John Key and Murray McCully have ruled out supporting a fact-finding mission in West Papua, despite evidence from groups such as Human Rights Watch that horrific abuses are happening there.

“Over the years, the New Zealand Government has supported several fact-finding missions to East Timor to investigate human rights abuses by Indonesia,” said Green Party human rights spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

“They’re an effective diplomatic tool for finding out what’s really happening on the ground, and for letting oppressive regimes know that the whole world is watching them.

“Without fact-finding missions to East Timor, we might have never known the true extent of the barbaric behaviour of Indonesian forces in the area, and the international community, including New Zealand, would not have felt compelled to get involved.

“Yet, when John Key and Murray McCully were given the opportunity at the Pacific Islands Forum to support a human rights fact-finding mission to West Papua, they refused to show any real leadership.

“John Key says that Indonesia and West Papua need to work this issue out ‘bi-laterally’.

“That’s all well and good when you’re talking about two sovereign, independent states – unfortunately, West Papua is currently occupied by Indonesia which doesn’t exactly put the two on even ground when it comes to any potential negotiations.

“West Papuans desperately need the international community, including New Zealand, to rally around them, regardless of how Indonesia may feel about it.

“Supporting a fact-finding mission is the very least we should be doing,” said Ms Delahunty.