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MEDIA STATEMENT February 13, 2001 Port Vila, Vanuatu


West Papuan leaders have expressed extreme satisfaction with their Port Vila meetings. They have just concluded a series of high-level consultations with Prime Minister Barak Sope and his government. They discussed, among others, the need to step up diplomatic efforts and persuade Indonesia to accept international dialogue as the most humane and sensible way out in addressing the West Papua conflict.

The visiting two-man delegation has also conveyed to Prime Minister Sope the fraternal greetings of the West Papuan people to the government and the people of Vanuatu, especially expressing their appreciation for Vanuatu’s historic and long-standing support in aid of the Melanesian independence issue.

However, it is feared that further atrocities, torture, intimidation, and suppression of basic human rights in West Papua will leave its largely unarmed Melanesian inhabitants with no option, but to resort to physical retaliation in self-defense. This is according to the Papua Council Presidium’s international relations moderator, Mr. Franzalbert Joku, and its Vanuatu-based resident representative to Pacific countries, Mr. Andy Ayamiseba.

The pair who represent the pro-independence Papua Council Presidium (Presidium Dewan Papua) leaders have warned that the disputed province could become a major war zone, if Indonesian military brutalities persisted and the Council’s pleas for urgent external help continued to fall on deaf ears.

"This vicious and inhuman death machine has to be stopped at all cost. What else can you do, if you are pushed against the wall, or barely hanging over the cliff edge," they said in a media statement issued in Port Vila today at the conclusion of their meeting with the government here.

Joku was recently appointed and authorized to act on behalf of the Papua Council Presidium to explore and secure all forms of external assistance, following the mass arrest and jailing of key independence leaders and other Council members.

They maintained that the peace path they had embarked on was consistent with the Papua Congress resolution of mid last year and the broad concern the Pacific Islands Forum leaders had expressed in the official Forum communiqué adopted at the Tarawa (Kiribati) summit last October.

In their statement, the pair strongly urged all sovereign governments in the region to collectively assume a leading role in seeking a peaceful solution to end what they described as "one of the biggest human abattoirs in the recent history of Melanesia."

"That is precisely what is happening to our people. Peace is our preference, but what use is it when death stares you in the face. How much longer must our people go on tolerating this," Joku and Ayamiseba said.

The West Papuan leaders said continuing inaction by regional governments, in particular the troubled province’s near neighbors, and the international community at large would only serve to encourage the Papuans to resort to less peaceful means to defend themselves and reassert control over their native homeland.

"It’s a grave mistake to assume that Papuans of today are the same as those of yesteryears, therefore, incapable of physical retaliation or inflicting damage.

"Seriously, the Indonesia government must now be placed on notice. If our pleas for speedy end to atrocities, rape, torture, murder and all forms of intimidation go unheeded, the Papua Council will have no choice but to step aside and allow shock therapies to be administered on the perpetrators," Joku and Ayamiseba said, in concluding their statement. They would not elaborate.

International Action for West Papua (IAWP): http://www.koteka.net/ 

Franzalbert Joku International Relations Moderator & Interim Papua Council Mandate Holder

Andy Ayamiseba Resident Representative in Vanuatu & International Rel. Pacific Coordinator

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