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Home » , , , , , , , » Catherine Delahunty speaks in the House about human rights in West Papua

Catherine Delahunty speaks in the House about human rights in West Papua

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on March 1, 2012 | 2:54 PM

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker, Tēnā koutou te Whare.
Yesterday at the Australian Senate in Canberra, I was present at the launch of the Australian International Parliamentarians for West Papua, hosted by the Australian Green Senator Richard Di Natale. Also present were Green, Labour, and liberal members of the Australian Senate, and a number of West Papuan leaders-in-exile. We were also pleased to welcome the international lawyers for West Papua, represented by Jennifer Robinson—who, coincidentally, is the lawyer for the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — and the MP for Vanuatu, MP Ralph Regenvanu.

The Acting Foreign Minister of Labour in the Australian Parliament opposed the participation of the Labour members coming to our launch, but some of them came anyway. This was interesting in itself. Why was there an issue, and why would anyone want to stop the participation of MPs on an issue of this regional importance.
My plea to this House is that all of us, across parties, act responsibly in support of the freedom and justice and human rights of West Papua.
If New Zealand citizens wish to raise a flag within this nation, whether it is the tino rangatiratanga flag or the All Blacks flag, no one gets locked up. If a citizen in West Papua raises the flag, the Morning Star flag it is called, they face 15 years in prison. Since 1969 these people have lived under a level of oppression that no one should have to accept, and the New Zealand and Australian Governments have been largely silent. Right now in a country just north of Australia, the Indonesian military enforces these laws, tortures, and murders citizens. Right now, five West Papuan leaders are in prison for daring to hold a meeting in a soccer field—because they were not allowed a building—to discuss self-determination issues—self-determination being the right of citizens to choose their own governance. The Jayapura Five face trial in an environment that is neither safe nor just.
The New Zealand Green Party in conjunction with the other international parliamentarians are calling for a regional solidarity and support for West Papua. We wish to see things happen immediately, like the Red Cross, who were expelled from West Papua. Which other country in this region has the Red Cross been expelled from, and yet our Governments turn their backs. For the recognition of these people's Melanesian status at the Pacific Island forum, which other Melanesian country is kept out of the forum by Governments such as ours? For journalists access, which other country are no international journalists allowed across the border, and why are we colluding with this?
New Zealand has military ties with Indonesia. These include bilateral training and symbolic recognition of what is happening in West Papua. What the parliamentarians internationally and in this House who are friends of West Papua are calling for is a recognition that there needs to be peace, there needs to be justice, and there needs to be human rights. We have a proud tradition in this House of standing up for our more vulnerable neighbours in these issues. Without the New Zealand Government I have been assured by many Pacific people that Bougainville could not have been negotiated—and that was a National Government. It was very important that we led with our role in supporting East Timor after the holocaust in East Timor for its citizens. Yet, we are still silent, still colluding, over the issue of West Papua.
The people of West Papua who are refugees, and who attended the meeting in Canberra yesterday, are asking for us to take a constructive role in the region and calling for a peaceful dialogue with Indonesia. It is not about attacking an important neighbour like Indonesia. It is not about denying the relationship. It is about saying to Indonesia: "Yes, democracy is developing positively in your country, but something is happening in a dark corner, which you are not prepared to talk about—and we want to help you talk about it."
The "Land of the Morning Star" is not only victim to human rights abuses but to illegal logging. When I came into this House and put forward a bill to stop the loopholes for the products of illegal logging, it was voted down immediately by the Government, and yet this is part of the blood on the barbecue; this is part of what happens when we allow kwila , which is illegally logged by the military in West Papua, to be brought into our country. We are also implicated through the Freeport-McMoRan mine. If you have never heard the word "Freeport-McMoRan", go and google it, and have a look on the map at these vast, huge, open-cast pits that have been dug in what they call the "head of the mother".
The "Land of the Morning Star" is the one place where you cannot raise a flag, and it is the one place where people are being tortured and killed. My plea to this House is that all of us, across parties, act responsibly in support of the freedom and justice and human rights of West Papua.


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