3 July 2007

US Congressman's ban a setback for West Papuan democracy

3 July 2007   The decision, announced yesterday, by the Indonesian Government to prevent US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega from travelling to West Papua, will undermine efforts to promote human rights and   democracy in the territory says TAPOL, the UK-based human rights organisation.

"Greater openness and freedom of movement are essential for the achievement of peace, democracy and improved respect for human rights in West Papua," said spokesperson, Paul Barber.

"Unfettered access to West Papua for international parliamentarians,

diplomats, journalists and human rights organisations will lead to a   better understanding of the situation in the territory and greater accuracy in reporting. That must be to the benefit of the Indonesian government. Restrictions on access are counter-productive and lead to the suspicion that the government has something to hide from the outside world," he   added.

Peace was achieved in Aceh thanks in large part to the opening up of the province to the international community following the tsunami tragedy in December 2004, pointed out TAPOL.

Faleomavaega is the Representative to the US Congress of the Pacific- Island territory of American Samoa.   He is a prominent supporter of self-determination for West Papua.   He was due to arrive in Jakarta today.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry director general for European and American affairs, Eddhi Hariyadhi, said he will not be allowed to go to Papua because his visit would be 'exploited by certain groups to create   riots'.

"The reason given for the ban is entirely spurious and a sign of

Indonesia's uncertain commitment to fundamental freedoms," said Barber.

Ironically, the ban comes just a month after a visit to West Papua by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, led to a number of constructive   recommendations on how to improve the human rights situation in the territory.


Contact: Paul Barber on +44 1420 80153 or +44 774 730 1739

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
41 Cherry Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2AX
Tel/Fax: 01420 80153
Email: plovers@gn.apc.org
Internet: http://tapol.gn.apc.org