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Letter from West Papua Action Auckland to NZ Foreign Minister

West Papua Action Auckland - November 9, 2021

Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament Buildings

Tena koe Nanaia Mahuta,

West Papua Action Auckland was pleased to note your comments about West Papua (Radio New Zealand – New Zealand aims to work more alongside Pacific nations, RNZ News, 8 November 2021).

It is good to hear that the issue of the UN Human Rights Commissioner's visit to West Papua is still high on the agenda of the Pacific Islands Forum. We also note your acknowledgement that there is more to be done for West Papua.

We are calling on you now to make urgent representations to the Indonesian authorities to investigate the recent violent attacks on the family of Veronica Koman and to take steps to ensure the family's safety.

Veronica Koman, human rights defender and lawyer has lived in exile in Australia, since 2019 when she was threatened with an Interpol Red Notice and with retribution for her stand in defending West Papuan activists. Veronica reports that she regularly receives death threats.

On Sunday 7 November there was an explosion outside the Jakarta home of Veronica's the parents.

The police have not confirmed whether the explosion was caused by a bomb, but it is reported that a letter was left at the time of the explosion. The wording was very alarming – suggesting that if Veronica cannot be arrested abroad ' we were called to scorch-earth wherever you hide, including your protector horde'. Amnesty International has said the letter claimed to be written by militant 'who defended the nation'.

We understand that this is not the first time that Veronica's family has been subject to threats and intimidation, including an attempted arson attempt. In a separate incident, also on Sunday 7 November, another of Veronica's relatives was sent a package containing a dead chicken alongside a letter that said 'anyone who helps to hide Veronica Koman will end up like this'.

In September, the UN Secretary General expressed concern about the reports of intimidation and reprisals against individuals who have worked with the United Nations field of human rights. His report on this issue,' Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights', was presented to the 48th Session of Human Rights Council. Veronica Koman's situation was singled out for special mention because part of the reason she has faced terrifying harassment is because she has provided important documentary evidence to the United Nations about human rights abuses in West Papua.

We look forward to your favourable response to this urgent request,

Nga mihi,

Maire Leadbeater
Catherine Delahunty

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