4 Oct 2012

O'Neill's Papua comment seen as shift in PNG policy

4:52 pm on 4 October 2012

The announcement by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea that he will raise concerns about human rights abuses in neighbouring Papua with Indonesia has been described as a departure in government policy.

Peter O'Neill told local television that the plight of the Melanesians across the border in Indonesia needs to be brought to light.

Professor Ron May of the Australian National University's State, Society and Governance in Melanesia programme says the statement represents a change from PNG's longheld position.

He said successive governments have prioritised good relations with Indonesia over standing up for the rights of West Papuans.

"There are a couple of people in parliament now however who have shown some inclination to take this on. But it also reflects the deteriorating situation in West Papua: we're getting increasing reports of human rights abuses and reports of increasing activity amongst West Papuan separatists."

Professor Ron May