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Fears of escalating violence in West Papua - Dr Keith Hyams comments.

Up to 600 people are reported to have been arrested at West Papuan independence rallies last weekend amid rising tensions between the independence movement and the Indonesian government.

Dr Keith Hyams, Reader in PAIS and Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group at the University of Warwick, comments:

“The past few days have seen an escalation of violence in West Papua.

"The vast majority of Papuans want to pursue a diplomatic route towards a resolution of their ongoing claim to political self-determination, based on evidence that the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969, by which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia, was coercive and unrepresentative.

"Indonesia wants to be seen as an emerging democracy, but in order to protect this image will need to ensure that its response to the recent upsurge in violence is measured.

"Already it has arrested nearly 600 Papuans who were peacefully participating in a Papuan flag raising ceremony on 1st December. If it allows the violence to escalate with retaliatory strikes against civilians and further abuses of human rights, then it risks significantly tarnishing its reputation.

"At the same time, it is imperative that the international community urgently steps in to broker a lasting solution to the political conflict in West Papua that they have thus far chosen to ignore.”

7 December 2018

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Sheila Kiggins

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