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Catherine Delahunty speaks in the House about West Papua

Catherine Delahunty MP
catherine [dot] delahunty [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)
We need to answer as to why our Government has allowed that to happen, because I do not think our citizens think torture is acceptable. I do not think the citizens of this country think being put in jail for 15 years for raising a flag is acceptable, and yet we continue to collude with the Indonesian Government policy of attacks on citizens in West Papua.
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Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou e te Whare.

After that outburst of testosterone, we will now enter a period of calm. Today I am going to speak about an issue that many people do not know much about, but it is not necessary for me to shout because the louder we shout does not indicate the significance of what we are going to talk about. I am going to talk about when the Prime Minister went to Jakarta in April. He met with the President of Indonesia. The president discussed with him the sad issue of the human rights abuses in West Papua. They had a nice little chat.

And then, interestingly enough, last week I found out that the New Zealand Defence Force is training Kopassus officers from the special unit, which is known for human rights abuses right throughout East Timor, Aceh, and West Papua. I do not think many citizens of this country would be happy to know that the New Zealand Defence Force is training people like Major Edwin Sumanta, who is part of the Kopassus Special Unit, which Human Rights Watch have accused of torture and murder in West Papua. This issue is one that brings New Zealand to shame. We should stop training the military who are implicated in violence in West Papua. What that means is stop training anyone from Indonesia until they stop the abuses that are taking place as we speak in that country.

Right now in West Papua we have a sorry record of human rights abuses. Last week the military attacked a village in the area of Wamena, and they burned a number of houses. Then Mako Tabuni was assassinated outside the university—shot in cold blood. Buchar Tabuni was arrested and detained without trial, and a number of other people have been killed. These Pacific people are being killed without licence by military groups such as Kopassus — whom we are colluding with, if we continue to be involved with them and continue to train them.

And so we have a situation now in West Papua — which is basically an occupied country — where people are being subjected to human rights abuses. It is a country that is less than 400 miles north of Australia. Most citizens of New Zealand think West Papua is somewhere connected to somewhere, but they have absolutely no idea of our own involvement, as a country, with this issue. I am not the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Greens, but I am a citizen with a conscience, and I cannot un-know what I have learnt from my colleagues in West Papua, who are refugees from that regime.

I and others today went to the Indonesian Embassy. We held a vigil outside the embassy, and we held up the Morning Star flag. The reason we held up the Morning Star flag is that unlike in Aotearoa New Zealand, if you raise the Morning Star flag in West Papua, you get 15 years in prison. If that is the kind of country we want to trade with, Indonesia, do we not think that we should demand a higher standard of ethics from our trading partners than arresting people, shooting them, summary executions in the streets of their country, and putting them in jail for 15 years for raising their flag? In this country we can raise any flag we like with impunity, which is the way it should be. We should be able to stand up and raise a flag. Instead of which, people just north of here are in prison for 15 years.

The Jayapura 5, who dared to be the leaders of a congress held in October 2011, are doing 3½ years in jail for daring to discuss the issue of self-determination. The Aotearoa New Zealand Government does have a role — definitely — as a peacemaker. We should be taking leadership as we did with Bougainville, with Aceh, and with East Timor — eventually, although it took a while — in terms of requiring the Indonesian Government to stop killing citizens. It is not acceptable.

As much as we are concerned about Syria, and as much as we are genuinely concerned about issues in Palestine, those countries actually have something that West Papua does not. They have the international media and the International Red Cross. The International Red Cross is not allowed in West Papua. The international media are not allowed in West Papua.

And yet our Government is training Kopassus. We need to answer as to why our Government has allowed that to happen, because I do not think our citizens think torture is acceptable. I do not think the citizens of this country think being put in jail for 15 years for raising a flag is acceptable, and yet we continue to collude with the Indonesian Government policy of attacks on citizens in West Papua.

Location

Parliament
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