28 Jun 2016

West Papuans in the driving seat, says PNG ambassador

3:19 pm on 28 June 2016
Downtown Jayapura.

Downtown Jayapura. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Following his visit to West Papua, Papua New Guinea's ambassador to Indonesia says that increasingly West Papuans are in the driving seat in terms of the running of their own region.

Peter Ilau this month visited the Papuan cities of Jayapura and Merauke on the invitation of Indonesia's coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs, Luhut Panjaitan.

Also on the visit were ambassadors from New Zealand, Fiji and Solomon Islands.

Mr Ilau said the visit was about witnessing the government's efforts on protecting human rights, advancing development and further linking Papua with the rest of Indonesia.

"Look, we're observing a trend, a show of attitude towards doing things for themselves," said Mr Ilau. "You know the governors, the bupatis, the regents, they're all indigenous Papuans.

"There's no Javanese or any other persons in the driving seat in terms of leadership in those provinces, districts and village levels."

Peter Ilau said that even in Indonesia's police and military forces, there were now more Melanesians participating.

He said one of the salient points that he and the other ambassadors picked up during the visit was that local people in Papua are fed up with outside interference.

"When they say outside interference, they are referring to outside governments and even outside Papuans, the diaspora Papuans who are constantly putting out messages that are not exactly what is being inspired on the ground here at home," he said.