6 Apr 2006

Vanuatu chiefs urge dialogue to solve Papua crisis

1:08 pm on 6 April 2006

Vanuatu's National Council of Chiefs has called on the government to ask Indonesia to start dialogue with Papuans on the issue of Papuan independence.

The Daily Post reports that more than 20 members of the council made the urgent call in a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sato Kilman, signed by the President of the Chiefs, Paul Tahi.

The chiefs have agreed that the momentum is building on the Papua issue and believe all Melanesian countries should stand together to push for dialogue between Indonesia and Papuans.

The Chiefs have registered their deep concern over recent reprisals by Indonesian security forces against those involved in demonstrations in Jayapura over the operations of US mining company Freeport in Papua.

The Chiefs say Vanuatu must promote a peaceful dialogue in Indonesia to avoid any further escalation or more violence in the near future.

Chief Tahi has called on Mr Kilman, who has left for an official trip to Indonesia, to make the stand of Vanuatu clear to Jakarta.