By Lloyd Burr
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira took the opportunity to talk about the indigenous affairs of Indonesia with foreign delegates at the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland yesterday.
Mr Harawira called for the United Nations to support peace talks between the indigenous people of the Indonesian province of West Papua and the Indonesian Government.
One of the delegates he spoke to at the Forum was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Harawira says he “took the opportunity with both hands”.
Mr Harawira released this press statement this morning:
It’s not often that you get to meet somebody as important as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations so Hone Harawira, MANA leader and MP for Tai Tokerau, took the opportunity with both hands.
“Welcome to Aotearoa, Mr Secretary General,” said Mr Harawira. “Can I please ask that you support peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous People of West Papua and Indonesia, to put an end to the killings there and to find a strategy to get Indonesia out of a land that isn’t theirs.”
Harawira met the UN Secretary General at the formal welcome for all the leaders attending the Pacific Forum, which was held yesterday at The Cloud down on the Auckland waterfront.
“Pity I didn’t have some information packs to hand out because they were all there,” said Harawira, “but I did manage to speak to a number of the leaders about West Papua and I think some of them quietly agreed with the suggestion that Indonesia quit West Papua as soon as possible.”
Back in the early 1960s when the former Dutch New Guinea was being prepared for independence, Indonesia waged a bloody campaign to invade and occupy the territory, with the support of the US. That occupation was ended when the UN approved West Papua being incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, following a rigged referendum of only 1,000 hand-picked West Papuans.
“The people of West Papua have been fighting for their independence ever since” said Harawira, “and New Zealand has had a role in that war - training the Indonesian military and police in return for favourable trade deals with the Indonesian government.”
“New Zealand has the opportunity to put that distasteful period in the past,” said Harawira, “by supporting two simple requests of the people of West Papua – a fact-finding mission to clarify the situation in West Papua, and peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous people of West Papua and the Indonesian government.”
“To do any less would be to sanction our support for the brutal military occupation of West Papua and to ignore the killings of an indigenous people who lack the capacity to defend themselves.”