Vanuatu government concerned about violent protests in West Papua

The Vanuatu Government has called for urgent international intervention in what it describes as the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua.

“While the deployment of military was deemed necessary to quell recent protests in West Papua, actions are disproportionately heavy-handed, and have already resulted in several causalities,” the Office of the Prime Minister said in a statement on Thursday.

“Also, and according to early reports received, the Military continues to unfairly target protestors of Papuan origin-through arbitrary arrests and detentions.”

“Although, given the communication ‘blackout’ in West Papua, the human rights situation could be much worse.”

Forum Leaders in their annual meeting in Tuvalu have acknowledged the reported escalation in violence and continued allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua and agreed to re-emphasize and reinforce the Forum’s position of raising its concerns over the violence.

The Vanuatu government is supporting the recent call by Forum leaders for intervention by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and in urging urgent intervention.

The ABC reports protests at Sorong and other key Papuan centres were triggered by perceived racist comments made by Indonesian police towards Papuan students in Java the weekend before.

But the racist insults were the fuse that ignited Papuans' deeper anger at Indonesian repression, amid a decades-long campaign for Papuan independence.

Hundreds of pro-independence protesters at Sorong torched buildings, smashed windows and blocked roads with burning tyres.

Hundreds of prisoners escaped after setting the jail alight.


Photo ABC Caption: West Papua prison was set alight in recent protests



Tensly Sumbe