Philip Cass – West Papuan human rights activist Rosa Moiwend has asked Tonga to continue its support or her people's struggle for independence.
She told Kaniva news it was important to support Vanuatu's effort to prepare a resolution to have West Papua placed on the agenda of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee.
Moiwend, who has been on a speaking tour of New Zealand and last night addressed a meeting at the St Columba centre in Auckland, said there had been a continuing effort to have West Papua put on the list of countries under consideration by the committee.
Last year the committee refused to accept a petition, reportedly supported by70% of West Papuans, asking the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses by Indonesian soldiers and police.
The petition called for the UN "to put West Papua back on the decolonisation committee agenda and ensure their right to self-determination... is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote."
Indonesia's representative to the UN, Dian Triansyah Djani, is a vice-chair of the Decolonisation Committee.
Moiwend said Tonga was one of seven Pacific nations which spoke out on behalf of West Papua at the UN General Assembly in 2015.
The seven nations which form the Pacific Island Council on West Papua, are Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.
Speaking to the General Assembly that year, Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva called on the UN to help West Papua, whose people have suffered under a brutal Indonesian occupation for nearly 60 years.
"Tonga does not condone the injustice, cruel violation of human rights and dignity and brutal treatment in West Papua," Hon. Pohiva said.
"The United Nations has a duty to closely follow up this West Papua case and [take] necessary action to stop these brutal and inhumane activities."
He said world leaders should work together against what was happening in West Papua.
As Kaniva news reported at the time, West Papuan representative Rev Socratez Yoman praised Hon. Pohiva, saying: "These are humanitarian issues and he is concerned. He sees with his heart and knows it is not a good situation. As the leader of an independent state he should support West Papua."
Last year Indonesia launched a multi-million dollar programme to influence Pacific nations, including a trade expo which open in Auckland on July 11-14.
Radio New Zealand has reported that Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister, Semisi Lafu Kioa Sika is expected to attend.
The New Zealand government' attitude toward the West Papuan issue remains uncertain.
West Papua Action Auckland described the situation in West Papua since the Indonesian take-over in 1963 as 'slow genocide,' but said the New Zealand government was all but silent on the mounting crisis.
While Labour MPs Jennie Salesa and Carmel Sepuloni met with Rev Yoman when he visited New Zealand in 2016, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, said last year New Zealand recognised West Papua as part of Indonesia.