23 May 2016

Jakarta denies claims by MSG chair

7:26 pm on 23 May 2016
Jayapura Harbour, Papua Province, Indonesia.

Jayapura Harbour, Papua Province, Indonesia. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The Indonesian government has denied suggestions that it's not open to communication regarding West Papua.

This follows criticism from the chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sovavare, over Indonesia's frailure to respond to requests from the MSG for dialogue over concerns about rights abuses in Papua.

Atmadji Sumarkidjo is the special assistant to Indonesia's Coordinating Minister of Politics, Legal and Security, Luhut Pandjaitan.

Mr Sumarkidjo said that on his recent Pacific regional tour, the minister was very clear in his representations on Papua.

"The problem of West Papua is our own problem. We don't want to compromise our sovereignty on Papua. This was clearly stated during our visit to respectuve countries in the South Pacific," said Mr Sumarkidjo.

He said Jakarta had been extending its communications to Pacific countries about what was happening in Papua, and that a lot of the information the Pacific countries had received was wrong.

He cited a meeting held earlier this month by Mr Luhut to address human rights issues in Papua, to which ambassadors from PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu were invited.

However, Mr Sogavare's recent suggestion that Indonesia joined the MSG for the purpose of protecting its own interests, rather than engaging about human rights in West Papua, has angered Jakarta.

The Director General for Asia, Pacific and Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Desra Percaya, said Jakarta firmly rejected the MSG chair's statements.

Mr Desra suggested that Mr Sogavare was veering from the facts.

He also said the chairman's statements violated the basic principles of sovereignty and non-interference, as contained in the MSG Agreement Establishing in 2007.

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