24 Aug 2009

Australian Senate calls for Indonesia to allow Red Cross back into Papua

7:43 pm on 24 August 2009

An Australia-based Papua human rights activist has praised the Australian Senate's motion urging the Indonesian Government to allow the Red Cross unfettered access to the troubled region.

The Red Cross was forced to shut its office and leave Papua in April after its representatives visited Papuan prisoners there.

However an Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman on Friday said that the ICRC would not be allowed to re-open a branch office in Papua.

But activisit Nick Chesterfield says Indonesia has obligations under the Geneva Convention to allow the Red Cross to conduct its humanitarian operations.

"'We're not sure whether or not this breaches international law but it's cetrainly an issue that the Indonesian government's got to show some more maturity on. The ICRC were carrying out their mandated operations and the Indonesian government was saying that by caring for human rights they are supporting separatism and that's just not the case."

Nick Chesterfield