Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on Thursday, February 16, 2006 he called upon the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice to take notice of the ongoing problems in West Papua New Guinea. Secretary Rice appeared on Thursday before the International Relations Committee to testify about the International Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2007.
Faleomavaega drew attention to the ongoing atrocities occurring in West Papua New Guinea which have been, and are continuing to be, completely ignored by the United States and the International community.
He made special reference to a recent article in the Washington Post which read: “A Lost World in Indonesia Yields Riches for Scientists”. It was an article about the discovery of an unknown region of rare plants, flowers and animals recently discovered in the province of West Papua New Guinea.
“Media outlets throughout the world were eager to give media coverage to this new discovery. No doubt this was an exciting scientific discovery in West Papua New Guinea. But I am deeply saddened that the newly discovered plants and animals of West Papua New Guinea could be worthy of front page news, yet the plight and suffering of the indigenous people of West Papua New Guinea was totally ignored” Faleomavaega said.
“The people of West Papua New Guinea have struggled for some forty years to seek their right of self-determination from Indonesia’s brutal military rule, yet their debilitating and gut-wrenching cause rarely receives a note from our own government, its former colonial ruler the Dutch, Australia, New Zealand, and other Pacific and European democratic nations”.
“Only a few weeks ago, on January 17, 43 West Papuans, seven of whom were children, arrived on the shores of Australia seeking asylum. They had left their homes in West Papua New Guinea and sailed some 2200 miles during the monsoon season in a small, open boat. The 43 Papuans fled a rapidly deteriorating human rights environment where the Indonesian military has committed human rights abuses and atrocities against the people of West Papua for decades – and yet no one could give heed to their suffering or plead their case before the world community of nations”.
Congressman Faleomavaega also reminded those in attendance at the International Relations hearing of the way in which West Papua came under Indonesian control.
“In 1969, 1,200 West Papuan elders were coerced and manipulated into voting unanimously on behalf of some one million West Papuans for inclusion in Indonesia. This Act of “No Choice” is generally regarded in the international community as a fraudulent tactic that was used by Indonesia’s military regime to claim control of West Papua”.
“37 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus joined in calling for a United Nations review of the Act of No Choice that was forced upon the people of West Papua by President Suharto’s military regime. My colleague, Mr Payne, and I have called upon the African nations to request a General Assembly review of the Act of No Choice since the UN was involved. Secretary General Kofi Annan informed us that should the Assembly decide to revisit this issue he will do his utmost to implement the Assembly’s mandate”.
“The issue of West Papua is not an internal matter for the government of Indonesia to resolve given the historical evidence that clearly questions Indonesia’s claim of sovereignty over West Papua New Guinea.”
The U.S. Department of State’s most recent Human Rights Report states that Indonesia’s "security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements in Papua”. Faleomavaega called on Secretary Rice and the U.S. Department of State to take action. “The crisis in West Papua New Guinea will not go away – we need your help.” Faleomavaega said.
“I am hopeful, in the spirit of America’s great mission of diplomacy to end tyranny in our world, that the U.S. will stand with the people of West Papua and support their right to self-determination” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.