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Government chided over inaction: CEN 3.07.08 p 4. March 8, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, House of Lords.

west-papua-flag.jpgThe former Bishop of Oxford has condemned the government’s inaction in the face of on-going human rights violations by the Indonesian government in West Papua.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Feb 26, Lord Harries said the government’s “bland disingenuousness” over West Papua had been discreditable. The Indonesian government was guilty of torture, “systematic brutality” and “genocide” against the indigenous people of Papua he said.

Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown conceded “the claim that there are major human rights abuses,” but noted the British government sought to work with the Indonesian government to “see it improve the conditions in Papua and to respect its special autonomy legislation.”

Lord Harries opened his remarks by saying that when he went shopping, he carried a bag displaying the West Papua “morning star” flag.  “If I shopped in West Papua with that bag, I would immediately be labelled a separatist and treated with brutality” and imprisoned, he said.

The government responded that Indonesia was making provisions for Papuans to be permitted to fly flag.  Lord Malloch-Brown called for “some understanding” for Indonesia as “flags are provocative things even in democracies that put an absolute premium on freedom of speech.”

“The Confederate flag in the United States continues to cause eruptions in every presidential campaign that I can recall,” the minister said.

Liberal Democratic peer Lord Avebury responded that “you do not go to prison for 20 years for flying the Confederate flag in the United States.”

“West Papua is a small country a long way away,” Lord Harries said, while “Indonesia is a big player with which we have major trade deals.”

“There are those who think that if only they stall long enough the problem will go away,” he said.  However, Lord Harries assured the government and the West Papuan people that their friends in the West would not abandon their cause in the face of economic self-interest or realpolitik, and asked the government to pursue this issue “with very great seriousness, conviction and urgency.”


1. Peter Woods - March 13, 2008

Well done Lord Harries. There are a growing number of church people in Australia also very aware of Papua’s present experience and past history, and similarly appalled by our successive Governments’ crossing to the other side of the road when it comes to our beaten up neighbour to the north. Arrests are happening right now around Papua as waves of protests are taking place. Will Christians, churches and church leaders have the guts to speak up on their behalf? Rev. Peter Woods, St Andrew’s Somerville, Melbourne Australia

2. Oktovianus Pogau - August 30, 2008

Papua freedom adalah harga mati.

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