10 Aug 2007

Sydney conference on Papua in dissent over autonomy support

1:14 pm on 10 August 2007

Tensions have arisen at a Sydney conference on Indonesia's Papua over the views of a Papuan advocate of special autonomy.

A number of Papuan leaders, human rights activists and academics have been attending this week's conference where Papua's five-year-old special autonomy status has been high on the agenda.

The chairman of the Papuan People's Assembly, Agus Alue Alua, told the conference that special autonomy has done nothing to lift social conditions for most Papuans.

Indonesia Human Rights Committee's Maire Leadbetter says Mr Alua's comments were widely endorsed among those in attendance.

However she says the former spokesman for the PNG-based Papua Council Presidium, Franzalbert Joku, was a lone voice calling for Papuans to work within the framework of special autonomy and not towards self-determination.

"But Franz Albert Joku takes the point of view that (special autonomy) is really the only game in town and when he expressed that point of view quite strongly he had quite a strong reaction from the room, particularly from West Papuan people who feel very angry with him that he's kind of sold out on their aspirations."

Maire Leadbetter