Put West Papua in spotlight, say Anglican bishops

AR
By Alexander Rheeney, 20 December 2018

The Anglican Church has appealed to the Samoan Government to condemn human rights violations in the restive Indonesian province of West Papua.

The Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia issued a public statement recently, expressing “deep disappointment” at what they described as the continued suppression of the first people of West Papua.

The Bishops said they are praying that the Indonesian authorities “will halt all state-sanctioned abuse and violation of human rights there.” 

Australia’s SBS Television recently reported that Indonesia has rejected renewed West Papuan separatists’ demands for independence, and the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers, as the death toll mounts after almost two weeks of fighting in the Papuan province. 

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The Bishops have proposed a four-fold course of action for the governments within the Anglican Church’s jurisdiction—New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga Samoa, American Samoa and the Cook Islands—to take. These actions include putting West Papua on the agenda in international forums, and tracking the sale of West Papuan-sourced goods “which accelerate the marginalisation of West Papuan people from their own land”, with a view to banning imports.

“As Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, we express our deep disappointment at the continued suppression by the Indonesian government of the basic human rights of West Papuan people.”

“We stand with our sisters and brothers in West Papua in their struggle to determine their own political destiny, and we pray that the Indonesian government will halt all state-sanctioned abuse and violation of human rights there.”

“The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia also calls upon each government represented within its jurisdiction to clearly express support for the people of West Papua in the redress of their historical injustices,” the Bishops said in a statement.

They condemned ethnic violence targeting the indigenous Melanesian population, the refusal by the Indonesian government to give them their rights to self-determination, and the abuse of their natural resources by foreign corporations.

“We urge our governments to continue to draw attention to the sustained ethnic violence and ongoing denial by the Indonesian government of the first people’s right of self-determination, and the abuse of their natural resources by foreign corporations.

“We also commend the political leaders of Pacific Island countries such as Vanuatu, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu, who continue to draw international attention to the plight of the peoples of West Papua,” the Bishops added.

AR
By Alexander Rheeney, 20 December 2018

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