23 Dec 2002

Papua separatist group accuses Australia of ingnoring a human catastrophe

12:06 pm on 23 December 2002

A separatist group in the Indonesian province of Papua has accused Canberra of continuing to ignore an on going human catastrophe in one of its closer northern neighbours.

The militant group, the OPM, made the statement after Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer condemned the opening of a separatist information office in Port Vila in Vanuatu.

Mr Dower said that any change to Indonesia's boundaries to provide independence for Papua would result in bloodshed.

But the international spokesman for the OPM, Dr John Ondawame, accused Mr Downer of hypocrisy, saying that blood had already been spilt and many Papuan lives lost in the name of stability.

Mr Ondawame said Papuans welcomed the support given by the government of Vanuatu.

He said the opening of the office indicated growing international support and strengthened efforts to achieve independence.

Mr Ondawame said comments such as those made by Mr Downer would not undermine the aspirations of the people of Papua.