Activist calls on MSG to help protect rights of West Papuans

Updated at 5:31 am on 13 February 2013

A leading West Papuan activist has called on the Melanesian Spearhead Group to take steps to protect the indigenous people of Indonesia's Papua region.

The UK-based Benny Wenda has been in New Zealand this week as part of an overseas tour campaigning for West Papuans' right to self-determination.

He says Melanesian peoples feel overwhelmingly in support of self-determination but their governments often defer to Indonesia on the issue.

Benny Wenda says West Papuans feel distinct from Indonesia and must have their own seat at the MSG which in turn needs to do more to encourage peace in troubled Papua region.

"Now the new generation of Melanesians they look at their (West Papuan) brothers and sisters being killed in front of their eye. How can they ignore it? I think it's time to support and West Papua needs to be listed in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Why is Indonesia listed? It's got nothing to do with Indonesia. I'm not talking about the rest of Indonesia, I'm talking specifically about West Papua. West Papua is a part of Melanesia."

Benny Wenda.

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