9 Aug 2002

Papuan independence groups put up a united front to face Pacific Islands Forum leaders

4:24 pm on 9 August 2002

Four pro-independence Papuan organisations have formed a united front in the hope that they can attend the 16 nation Pacific islands Forum in Fiji as observers.

Members of the Papua Presidium Council, the OPM or Free Papua Movement, the National United Front and the West Papua New Guinea Congress say the request will be made during a presentation of a joint position paper to the Forum leaders today.

OPM representative, Rex Rumakiek says they will ask that a Pacific Islands Forum observer group be sent to the Indonesian province to investigate allegtions of human rights abuses by the military and police.

At the 2000 Forum, Pacific Island leaders expressed concerns over human rights abuses by the Indonesian military against Papuans, but at last year's summit the pro-independence group were shut out, with the Forum claiming they were divided in what they wanted for the province.

Mr Rumakiek says the Papuan united front should be invited to the Forum as an observer on moral grounds.

"The protocol to be an observer you have to be self governing , in this case you might as well invite Indonesia to be the observer because they are the authority over there, but we have been founding membewrs of the South Pacific Commission and we would like to be admitted in our rightful place to be members of the Pacific community on moral grounds"

Rex Rumakiek