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PNG govt urged to take stronger stand on West Papua

Radio New Zealand - December 3, 2021

Papua New Guinea's government has been urged by a prominent MP to develop a stronger policy on West Papua.

Powes Parkop, the governor of PNG's national capital, said the government shouldn't keep ignoring the crisis in the neighbourng Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea.

In a series of questions in parliament to Foreign Minister Soroi Eoe, Parkop described the government as having done little to hold Indonesia to account for decades of human rights abuses in West Papua.

"Hiding under a policy of 'Friends to All, Enemy to None' might be okay for the rest of the world, but it is total capitulation to Indonesian aggression and illegal occupation.

"It is more a policy of seeing no evil, speaking no evil and to say no evil against the evils of Indonesia," Parkop said.

Aside from supporting calls by the Pacific Islands Forum for Jakarta to allow a UN Human Rights Commissin team to visit West Papua, PNG's government has not raised concern about the escalating conflict in the neighbouring region, particularly near the international border.

The 1986 Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Cooperation between PNG and Indonesia firmly established Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, which is now divided into two provinces.

The treaty also provided for reciprocal respect for territorial integrity. However, decades of unresolved political conflict in West Papua has had major spillover impacts on PNG.

The common border region has been exploited for trafficking drugs, guns, contraband and illegal labour. While indigenous communities on both sides have traditional crossing rights, thousands of West Papuans have melted into PNG seeking refuge from the excesses of the Indonesian military

Many Papua New Guineans feel sympathy for the plight of West Papuans, whose homeland's incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s remains controversial and the cause of ongoing armed conflict.

However, Parkop said the PNG government's long silence on the denial of West Papuans' right to self-determination has been based on fear, and was not the morally correct approach.

PNG's Prime Minister James Marape raised a point of order over Parkop's questioning, saying parliament's standing orders didn't allow questions challenging government policies by making inferences and assumptions.

Furthermore, Eoe said a statement on the government's policy would be forthcoming after discussion in cabinet.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/457122/png-govt-urged-to-take-stronger-stand-on-west-papu