PNG URGED TO ALLOW WEST PAPUAN OFFICE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 26, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---West Papuan independence supporters in Papua New Guinea are calling on the government to allow West Papuans to operate a campaign office in the capital, Port Moresby.

The call was made following comments by Indonesian Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, following a Silver Jubilee of Independence visit to Papua New Guinea, who said the PNG government doesn't support separatism in West Papua.

But Sandaun Province Governor John Tekwe said West Papuans should not give up on their fight for independence.

"Those of us who are dreaming and thinking it will not be are living in the past," Tekwe said. "The only problem with West Papua is that there is not enough international media exposure. People are not finding out the real truth."

Tekwe said he recently told a crowd of 3,000 people at a meeting in Jayapura that he supports the West Papua independence movement.

"There is a certain appreciation for the rights and dignity of our Melanesian brothers and sisters to the extent that they have continuously stood up to address the independence issue since 1962," he said. "We cannot continue to deny them their rights."

Tekwe said support for independence has come from the international community as well. He noted that the International Council of Churches meeting in Fiji recently called on churches in the Pacific to support West Papua’s struggle for self-determination. Church leaders also called on the United Nations to place West Papuans on the list for de-colonization.

"Let’s not live in a dream," he said. "We have to accept the reality."

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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