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Papua peace still elusive, say leaders

Situation in region is 'not conducive to peace', following lawyers' meeting in UK

Papuan activist Nicholas Simion Messet speaks at the forum in Jakarta Papuan activist Nicholas Simion Messet speaks at the forum in Jakarta
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • August 23, 2011
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Papuan leaders who met yesterday said the situation in the region is not conducive to peace following a meeting earlier this month in the United Kingdom by the Free West Papua Campaign and the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP).

“When the media in Indonesia is publicizing the conference, the situation in Papua is not well-served,” said Yonas Nussy, secretary general of the militia group Red and White Front during an address to about 100 people at an art center in central Jakarta.

Papuans have become victims because of various issues, including the conference in London, he said.

“We call on the Papuans, particularly the younger generation, to react wisely so as to prevent them from becoming victims.”

The summit in the UK was held on August 2 in Oxford, during which 15 Papuans living overseas joined international lawyers, parliamentarians and representatives of NGOs in a discussion about the future of freedom in the region.

According to a notice on the ILWP website, the conference was a landmark event in the 40-year campaign for independence and presented the strongest case to date that the people of West Papua have the right to self-determination under international law.

The conference also aimed to criticize the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969, by which Indonesia asserted that the population of western New Guinea had relinquished their sovereignty in favor of Indonesian citizenship.

Nicholas Simion Messet, a Papuan leader, said the integration process carried out that year covered all policies regarding the development of Papua.

“This is what the conference talked about,” he said.

Reverend Karel Philip Erari of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI ) agreed that the Oxford conference has not helped the situation in Papua.

He said that he receives reports every day from Papua about human rights violations such as shootings, kidnappings and murders.

“It is consciously created by the government and the military to show [people] that the situation in Papua is not safe, so that military operations should be carried out.”

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