Statements on West Papua by Pacific Nations at UN General Assembly 2016
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General Debate of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly:
20 September 2016 to 26 September 2016

Statements on West Papua by Pacific Nations

Nauru

H.E. Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President
21 September 2016

Nauru is deeply concerned regarding the situation in West Papua, including the alleged human rights abuses. As emphasized in the Pacific Islands Forum Communique, it is important that there be an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on this matter.”[1]

Marshall Islands

H.E. Ms. Hilda Heine, President
22 September 2016

“Given the importance of human rights to my country I request that the UN Human Rights Council initiate a credible and independent investigation of alleged human rights violations in West Papua.”[2]

Tuvalu

H.E. Mr. Enele Sosene Sopoanga, Prime Minister
23 September 2016

“In the same vein, the principle of self-determination must also be respected and honored. The violation of human rights in West Papua and their desire to achieve self-determination is a reality. This great body cannot and must not ignore these deplorable situations, it must not hide behind the guise of the principles of non-interference and sovereignty. The UN must act on this issue and find a workable solution to give autonomy to the Indigenous Peoples of West Papua.”[3]

Solomon Islands

H.E. Mr. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister
23 September 2016

“Solomon Islands is gravely concerned about the human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua. Human rights violations in West Papua and the pursuit for self-determination of West Papua are two sides of the same coin. Many reports on human rights violations in West Papua emphasize the inherent corroboration between the right to self-determination that results in direct violations of human rights by Indonesia in its attempts to smother any form of opposition. The principle of sovereignty is paramount in any institution whose core rationale is the respect for sovereignty. If the justification of sovereignty rests on a series of decisions that are questionable, then there is a case to challenge the legality of the argument of sovereignty as is the case of the New York Agreement and the Act of Free Choice. Solomon Islands adds its' voice to those of other member countries and civil society organizations who are concerned about human rights violations in the Papua and West Papua regions of Indonesia. As the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group that includes Indonesia as an associate member and the United Liberation Movement of West Papua as an observer, Solomon Islands affirms the need for constructive engagement with Indonesia and looks forward to cooperating with Indonesia to address the violations of human rights in West Papua.”[4]

Vanuatu

H.E. Mr. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister
23 September 2016

“The problems of human rights in West Papua remain outstanding. I still stand on the podium as did my predecessors, with the same moral convictions, urging the United Nations to take concrete steps to resolve this issue and my colleague leaders to support advocacy for West Papuans. The United Nations must not turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in the province of West Papua. The people of West Papua turn to the United Nations for a glimmer of hope, a hope for freedom in the exercise of their rights on their own land to freely assert their identity.[5]

Palau

H.E. Dr Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative to the United Nations
26 September 2016

“Additionally, we join others to advocate for an amenable resolution to the problem in West Papua.”[6]

 

Tonga

H.E. Mr. Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister
24 September 2016

“We express for the welfare of the Pacific peoples that are residents and citizens in the province of Western Papua, Indonesia. Last year, on this same podium, I stood here and spoke about human rights abuses taking place in Indonesia-ruled West Papua. In the year that has passed, nothing appears to have changed in that place. I use the word ‘appease’ intentionally because now we still have no way of knowing exactly what is going on in that place. Probably something is definitely wrong.… Tonga supports the call for an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia regarding the status and welfare of the people of West Papua.”[7]

First Right of Reply by Indonesia

Nara Masista Rakhmatia, Official of Indonesia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations
24 September 2016

Rakhmatia spoke in response to statements made by Pacific nations regarding West Papua. According to website of the General Debate of the 71st Session, she “rejected the insinuating statements they had made, which reflected an unfortunate lack of understanding of history and progressive developments in Indonesia, including in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.”[8] She stated that their statements were politically motivated and “designed to support separatist groups which had engaged in inciting public disorder and armed attacks on civilians and military personnel.”[9] Rakhmatia also lamented that the actions of the Pacific nations to use the United Nations to advance their agendas and deter attention from domestic problems were dangerous moves. She emphasized Indonesia’s commitment to protecting human rights; it was a founding member of the Human Rights Council and had begun the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Commission on Human Rights. “Domestic mechanisms were in place at the provincial levels in Papua and West Papua, and Indonesia would give focus to the development of those provinces and to the best interests of all.”[10]

 
Right of Reply by Solomon Islands

26 September 2016

In response to Indonesia’s Right of Reply, the representative of the Solomon Islands cited ongoing human rights abuses that Indonesia has inflicted on Melanesian people in West Papua. He acknowledged efforts by Indonesia to establish human rights means, including its ratification of the Convention against Torture, however, he said Indonesia has not defined torture nor attempted to exterminate it. He asks how the United Nations could allow violations against the people of West Papua over the last 50 years. According to the website, “The Organization must find a way to stop the loss of life and Member States must agree on certain rights and be accountable for them. The United Nations had a responsibility to protect all people from human rights violations and should also hold other Member States accountable, he added.”[11]

Second Right of Reply by Indonesia

26 September 2016

“The representative of Indonesia said that allegations by the Solomon Islands of human rights violations against Melanesians were intended to support the separatist movement.  They went against the principles and purpose of the United Nations Charter by violating the internal affairs and sovereignty of other States.  The allegations arose from ignorance of the facts on the ground and were “trash information” from separatist groups.”[12]


[1] Statement delivered by His Excellency the Honourable baron Waqa, M.P., President of the Republic of Nauru, https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_NR_en.pdf.

[2] Statement delivered by H.E. Ms. Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands,
https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_MH_en.pdf
.

[3] Statement Presented by Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoanga,  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_TV_en.pdf.

[4] Statement by Honorable Manasseh Sogavare, MP Prime Minister, https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_SB_en.pdf.

[5] Declaration by Prime Minister of Vanuatu, https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_VU_fr.pdf, translated from French.
[6] National Statement - Republic of Palau,  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/71/71_PW_en.pdf.

[8] Indonesia Right of Reply, summary from https://gadebate.un.org/en/71/indonesia.  

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Solomon Islands Right of Reply, summary from https://gadebate.un.org/en/71/solomon-islands.

[12] Indonesia Right of Reply, summary from https://gadebate.un.org/en/71/indonesia.

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) was founded in 1991. ETAN supports democracy, human rights and justice in Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. Website: www.etan.org Twitter: @etan009


 


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