It has been reported that the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders are meeting virtually on the 6 August.
AWPA urges Prime Minister Scott Morrison (as leader of a PIF country) to urge Jakarta to allow a PIF fact-finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.
At the 46th PIF Meeting in Port Moresby, "Leaders requested the Forum Chair to convey the views of the Forum to the Indonesian Government, and to consult on a fact finding mission to discuss the situation in Papua with the parties involved". However at this stage there has been no positive response from Jakarta to the request
From the 46th Communique in relation to West Papua:
17. Leaders recognised Indonesia's sovereignty over the Papuan provinces but noted concerns about the human rights situation, calling on all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents in Papua. Leaders requested the Forum Chair to convey the views of the Forum to the Indonesian Government, and to consult on a fact-finding mission to discuss the situation in Papua with the parties involved.
It is also very encouraging that in a media release (8 October 2020), the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the Honourable Kausea Natano, reaffirmed the importance of open and constructive dialogue on the human rights situation in West Papua (Papua).
"In line with the Forum Leaders decisions in Tuvalu in 2019, the Forum Chair has this week written to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, requesting an update on the consultations with the Government of Indonesia concerning the invitation for a mission to West Papua (Papua). The Forum Chair further reaffirmed the Forum Leaders call for all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents and to work to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means". https://www.forumsec.org/2020/10/08/pacific-islands-forum-chair-reaffirms-support-for-open-constructive-dialogues-human-rights-mission-to-west-papua-papua/
Joe Collins of AWPA said, "West Papua is one of our nearest neighbours and the situation in the territory continues to deteriorate with ongoing clashes between the security forces and the OPM (the Free Papua Movement). The West Papuan people continue to be arrested intimated and killed by the security forces. A number of military operations have also taken place in the past few years. During these operations house are burned, livestock killed, leaving local people traumatised and in fear for the lives. These operations have also lead to large numbers of internal referees fleeing to other regencies creating a humanitarian crisis.
AWPA believes that West Papua should be a priority foreign policy issue for Australia.
It is now 58 years since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua from the UN in 1963 and the West Papuan people are still marching in the streets risking arrest and torture and calling for their right to self-determination. Australia should realize that West Papua is an issue that is not going away (no matter how much it wished it would) and it is in their interest to try and help solve the many issues of concern in West Papua. Otherwise we could see increasing conflict in the territory which in turn could affect the region.
Although Australia thinks of itself as a regional leader and continues to try and influence the Forum on what should be on its agenda (or trying to keep West Papua of it), its lack of leadership in relation to climate change could undermine Australia's influence at the Forum.
If Australia wants to keep or win friends in the region it should start by listening to what the Forum leaders and the people of the Pacific are concerned about.