New Zealand could improve the "critical" human rights situation in West Papua by pursuing the peacemaking role that proved successful during the earlier Bougainville conflict, human rights advocate Frederika Korain says.
Miss Korain, a West Papuan undertaking university postgraduate study in Canberra, spoke in Dunedin recently about human rights and associated gender issues in West Papua.
After her talk at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, she said New Zealand enjoyed a "very good reputation" in the region.
And she believed offering to help resolve issues would not harm New Zealand's "very good relationship" with the Indonesia Government, andIndonesia would also benefit from resolving conflicts.
New Zealand could host Indonesian representatives and people from West Papua on neutral ground, and act as mediators, as had happened successfully during the Bougainville conflict, beginning in 1997.
Some peaceful demonstrations in West Papua had recently been broken up violently by the authorities, and some civil rights leaders had been killed.
A "horrible situation" had developed and positive action was needed, she said.