Bruce Wearne asks a good question. When is Australian and New Zealand “going to get in behind Vanuatu’s advocacy of justice for West Papua”.
As secretary of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney, I write regularly to our foreign affairs department (DFAT) raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.
In all replies there will always be the sentence, “we recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua”. It does not matter which party is in power but there are individual politicians in all parties, particularly in “The Greens” which are concerned about the situation.
There have been a number of hiccups in our relationship with Indonesia and DFAT’s policy seems to be basically not to upset Indonesia. Everybody wants to get along with their neighbours but it should not be at the expense of the West Papuan People.
One way Australia can support West Papua without incurring Indonesian criticism is to act collectively and support the call by the Pacific leaders in asking Jakarta to allow a PIF fact finding mission to West Papua.
In recent years there has been a groundswell of support throughout the Pacific region in support of the West Papuan people. Hopefully, the PIF leaders at the upcoming PIF summit in Tuvalu will continue to press Jakarta to allow a fact finding mission to the territory. They have the support of their people in doing so.