New Zealand Government Urged To Speak Out On Treatment Of West Papuans

Advocate notes minister's silence over detention of peaceful protestors

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 18, 2017) – A campaigner for West Papua says the New Zealand government should be speaking out about the treatment of pro-independence demonstrators by Indonesian police.

More than 100 Papuans - mainly members of the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB - were detained between 30 June and 6 July in Nabire, following a protest march to the city's police station to demand the release of one of the group's activists.

The Indonesian government denied that the protesters were arrested and said they were all returned to where they had come from after signing a declaration that they would not violate law and order.

However, the New Zealand campaigner Maire Leadbetter said the demonstrators were held against their will, interrogated and in some cases beaten.

She said the Indonesian government was still detaining people who set out on peaceful demonstrations, a tactic she described as an assault on freedom of expression.

"It's shocking and our government should be standing up and saying far more than they are doing. I have written to Gerry Brownlee - the minister of foreign affairs about it this week," said Ms Leadbetter.

Radio New Zealand International
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