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Letter to New Zealand foreign affairs minister on military operations in Nduga

West Papua Action Auckland - April 6, 2019

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament Buildings

Dear Winston Peters,

Nduga West Papua is the location of a major joint military and police operation involving a large deployment of Indonesian security forces personnel. Nduga became the focus of conflict in December 2018 after the killing of 19 road construction workers, for which local armed groups have claimed responsibility.

There is now a grave humanitarian crisis as over 30,000 displaced people (IDP) have fled the conflict area and are experiencing harsh living conditions. According to local investigators from a team appointed by the Nduga regional government, displaced people are living in neighbouring districts where they struggle to access health services, food and other essential resources. Many children cannot go to school. Among the displaced people are hundreds of babies and pregnant women as well as elderly and other especially vulnerable people. Hundreds are living in the forests.

A Jakarta Post article on April 3 reported that 'at least nine mothers had given birth in the forests without proper medical treatment, risking their lives'. Up to thirty-four churches have been damaged and one Church was taken over by military for use as its headquarters.

On the 13th and 19th March the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva heard representations concerning the deteriorating human rights situation in Nduga West Papua. Speaking for the NGO Geneva for Human Rights,Viktor Yeimo, urged the Council to encourage the Indonesian government to provide access to independent human rights investigations as well as humanitarian assistance. The Council also heard from Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman who described how the ongoing Indonesian military operation in Nduga has resulted in the death of more than 25 people.

Community leaders including Father John Djonga and the Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, are calling on Indonesia to withdraw its troops from the Nduga regency, because of the trauma already experienced by the villagers and the ongoing threats they face. Human rights defenders are also calling for international backing for their call on the Indonesian Government to allow access to media and humanitarian organisations to West Papua.

We urge you to add New Zealand's voice to the call on the Indonesian authorities to respect the rights of civilians, withdraw its forces from the area and allow urgent access to media and humanitarian organisations.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater
For West Papua Action Auckland

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