NZ Govt urged to recognise West Papua 'genocide'


The New Zealand Government is being urged to stop turning a blind eye to the atrocities playing out in West Papua.

Since May this year, at least 3000 young people have been arrested and tortured for peacefully protesting large-scale human rights abuses.

Indonesia took control of the province in 1963, and it has been under military occupation ever since.

The struggle for independence has seen around 500,000 Papuans killed, with watchdogs referring to it as a 'mass genocide'.

Maire Leadbeater from West Papua Action Auckland says they're launching a petition aimed at our Government, and its inability to acknowledge the horror.

"It's a repeat of East Timor... it always seems more important to our Government to have a bilateral relationship with Indonesia, rather than speak up for the pacific people who live in West Papua," said Ms Leadbeater.

Human rights groups have long been campaigning for countries to acknowledge the abuse, saying people are being subjected to killings, torture, beatings and neglect.

Ms Leadbeater says people remain blissfully unaware of the horror, because of strict restrictions Indonesia imposes on the media.

"The situation remains hidden as very few journalists are able to get there. It’s very out of sight."

But she hopes that's all about to change, as neighbouring countries begin to voice concerns about, what's often referred to as the genocide of West Papuans.

"The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are standing out on the issue at the likes of the United Nations… they're really doing a great job and we need to follow their lead."

And New Zealanders are being told it's time to do their part, with the launch of a petition this afternoon.

Ms Leadbeater says it simply asks for the Government to speak out about the atrocities at international forums.


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