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Papua: Armed Conflict

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken in the last 12 months and (b) plans to take to promote effective dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and representatives of the people of West Papua on conflict resolution. (200301)

We believe that the complex issues in Papua can best be resolved through peaceful dialogue between the people of Papua, their elected representatives and the central Government of Indonesia. The dialogue is ongoing. Indonesian Vice President Kalla, along with a team of Ministers, visited Papua most recently in February to discuss economic and social development with representatives of the Papuan people. Papuan leaders regularly visit Jakarta. The Indonesian President has committed his Government to improving the situation in Papua, which we welcome. Governor Suebu, of Papua province, is pressing ahead with his development programmes, underpinned by the significant financial resources now being directed to Papua as a result of its special autonomy status.

We continue to encourage all sides to maintain a meaningful dialogue that focuses on implementing fully the existing special autonomy legislation. We judge that this is the best way to ensure the long-term stability and development of Papua and its people.

At the UN Human Rights Council examination of Indonesia under the Universal Periodic Review, in Geneva on 9 April, the UK welcomed Indonesia’s substantial progress on human rights since 1998, but noted ongoing concerns in Papua.

Our embassy in Jakarta follows the situation in Papua closely and is in regular contact with human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations and academics working in the region. Embassy staff also visit Papua regularly, most recently from 15 to 20 February 2008. While there, they held discussions with local officials, non-governmental organisations and representatives of religious organisations. The Department for International Development (DFID) is providing funding for four development advisers to the Governor of Papua. Their work focuses on poverty alleviation, public finance and infrastructure. DFID is also funding HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities in Papua, as well as focusing on improving forest governance livelihoods to address poverty reduction and deforestation in Papua. We continue to engage with Papuan leaders on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, and we fund several projects in Papua, including human rights training for the police.