1 Oct 2016

Jakarta urged to open up on Papua

11:31 am on 1 October 2016

Indonesia has been urged to open up access to West Papua, following a surge of concern about rights abuses in Papua at the United Nations.

Several days ago, leaders of a number of Pacific Island countries raised concern at the UN general assembly about alleged human rights abuses against West Papuans.

Some of the leaders also called for proper recognition of Papuans' self-determination aspirations.

In response, Indonesia's government said the countries speaking out lacked understanding about Papua.

Jakarta also claimed some Pacific countries have supported groups conducting terrorism in Papua.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua's spokesman Benny Wenda says the response was typical of Jakarta's defensiveness whenever international support for Papuans' rights arises.

"They're always screaming. Even in London, if we hold an event in London, a parliamentarian meeting, in any part of the world, they're always screaming," he said.

Benny Wenda

Benny Wenda Photo: bennywenda.org

"And for us, it's not new. So I think the time (has come) for the Indonesian government to open the access to West Papua."

Since last year, the Indonesian government has made some moves to grant more access to Papua for foreign journalists.

However it maintains restrictions on access for leading international humanitarian and rights organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International.

Jakarta also indicated to the Pacific Islands Forum that it won't accept the regional organisation's request to have a fact-finding mission travel to Papua to ascertain information about the treatment of Papuans.