Liam Fox on Pacific Beat – The Pacific Council of Churches is urging the region's leaders to push for a peacekeeping mission to be sent to the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The Papuan provinces have been wracked by civil unrest for more than a fortnight with reports several people have been killed in the crackdown by Indonesian security forces.
The Council's general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan said the situation has deteriorated so much that a drastic response is required. "It's time perhaps for a Pacific peacekeeping force to be sent it," he said.
Reverend Bhagwan said the Pacific has the experience and the personnel for the task.
"We've had situations where we've had RAMSI come in when there was a crisis in Splomon Islands," he said. "We recognise the call is very much Indonesia's but it's a way of bringing in someone neutral".
The violence has also prompted the Pacific Islands Forum to reiterate its call for Indonesia to allow a visit by the United Nations to its Papuan provinces.
The communique from last month's Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tuvalu called on Indonesia to finalise the timing of a long-promised visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"We need to know what is actually going on and the only way we're really going to find out is to have somebody go in there and the United Nations is the obvious one," said Dame Meg Taylor, the Forum's secretary general.
Dame Meg said a regional peacekeeping mission would be unlikely as it would require an invitation from Indonesia. "This has not been raised in a conversation with the leaders of the Pacific," she said.