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Churches call for Pacific-wide boycott over West Papua

Radio New Zealand - December 1, 2022

The Pacific Conference of Churches is calling for a boycott of all Indonesian products and programmes by the Indonesian Government, until Jakarta allows a visit to West Papua by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The church said this is needed to investigate reported human rights abuses – including torture, extrajudicial killings, and systemic police and military violence.

Reverend James Bhagwan, the general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said the call for a boycott comes in response to the lack of political will by the Indonesian Government to honour their commitment to the visit of four years ago.

He said they know the Pacific is a market for Indonesian products, and they hope by mobilising consumers it will show that Pacific people stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers of Tanah Papua.

The UN Human Rights Council's 41st Universal Periodic Review last month raised concerns about rights violations in the West Papua region, and also called for a Human Rights Commission visit.

The Indonensian Foreign Ministry's director for human rights, Achsanul Habib, had asserted that Papua was an integral part of Indonesia according to international law, and that the region faced security challenges from what he called armed separatist groups.

Peaceful dialogue needed in West Papua

The Coordinator of Papuan Observatory for Human Rights (POHR) says peaceful dialogue to end the conflict in Papua will not take place without the involvement of international institutions.

Thomas Syufi said peaceful dialogue can only be realised if there is the involvement of credible and independent international human rights institutions to resolve cases of gross human rights violations in West Papua.

However, he said he was pessimistic of a resolution soon.

"I am pessimistic that the steps taken by the National Human Rights Commission to facilitate the Jakarta-Papua dialogue will be successful. To me, it seems rushed and forced, like there is a hidden agenda or the dialogue is only staged."

Syufi said that the Jakarta-Papua peace dialogue is difficult to realise because the conflicting parties were the Indonesian government and the West Papuan people represented by the independence movement.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/479884/churches-call-for-pacific-wide-boycott-over-west-papu