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Free Papua Movement calls for international mediation

Radio New Zealand International - February 21, 2019

The Free West Papua Movement, or OPM, has called on the international community to mediate negotiations with Indonesia's government to end conflict in Papua region.

Armed conflict in Papua's Highlands between the OPM's armed wing, the West Papua Liberation Army, and Indonesian security forces has intensified since last year.

Indonesia's military has increased its operations in the region after the Liberation Army massacred nineteen Indonesian road construction workers in December.

According to its coordinator for negotiation, Akouboo Amatus Douw, the OPM is willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict. But he said it would only negotiate with the government of Indonesia through an internationally mediated process.

Mr Douw said the OPM rejected other forms of internal "dialogue" or "consultation" with Jakarta, citing the controversial referendum through which Papua's incorporation into Indonesia culminated in 1969.

"In that 'consultation' (the Act of Free Choice), 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military were threatened to accept incorporation into Indonesia," he said.

"That process, orchestrated by Indonesia with the support of the United States and the Netherlands via the United Nations, violated all internationally recognised principles of self-determination and was hence illegitimate."

Indonesia's government insists its territorial sovereignty over Papua is final, and has vowed to crush the Liberation Army which it brands a criminal armed group.

The Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Wiranto, recently ruled out any negotiation with the OPM or its armed wing. He warned that OPM was spreading misinformation through propaganda that was creating anxiety about the situation in Papua.

Meanwhile, the OPM welcomed current efforts by the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to send a team from her office to visit Papua.

Noting concerns about human rights abuses in Papua, Ms Bachelet last month said her office was talking to Indonesia in the hope of securing permission to access the remote region.

Mr Douw said that the OPM hoped Ms Bachelet could make recommendations for addressing the conflict towards a final peace agreement.

The OPM also urged the Netherlands, as West Papua's former colonial power, to accept moral responsibility and support the call for internationally mediated negotiations.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/383039/free-papua-movement-calls-for-international-mediation