Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Thursday, 29 May 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 567 No. 7

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  9.  Mr. Ring  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   the actions taken at EU level to raise the question of the human rights situation in West Papua; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14867/03]

  28.  Mr. Ring  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   if he will report on the situation in the Wamena area of West Papua; if his attention has been drawn to the reports of human rights abuses emanating from the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14846/03]

  44.  Mr. Gogarty  Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   the action he has taken with the Indonesian authorities, his EU counterparts and the United Nations regarding West Papua; the outcome of the Minister of State's recent meeting with a person (details supplied) and the West Papua Action group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14943/03]

  143.  Mr. G. Mitchell  Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   the actions taken at EU level to raise the issue of human rights in West Papua. [14976/03]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 28, 44 and 143 together.

On a number of occasions recently, I have set out the Government's position with respect to the situation in Papua.

At the meeting of the External Relations Council which I attended on 14 April 2003, Ireland, together with our EU partners, adopted revised Council Conclusions on Indonesia. These conclusions reaffirmed the importance which we attach to the promotion and protection of human rights in Indonesia. The conclusions stressed the importance of bringing all perpetrators of human rights violations to justice, and also emphasised the importance of actively promoting peaceful solutions to the internal conflicts in Indonesia, including that of Papua.

With respect to the particular situation in the Wanema area of Papua, I am aware of military operations there in April 2003, and of allegations concerning the destruction of homes, churches, [1654]schools and other buildings, as well as the loss of life. I also understand that a number of individuals were arrested, and allegedly beaten while in custody. These actions by the Indonesian military are of deep concern.

Deputies will recall that I have reported previously on my meeting with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr. Wirajuda, at the EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at Brussels in January 2003, when I raised issues of particular concern, including the human rights situation in Papua, and made the point that these matters impact on our national perception of Indonesia.

Officials of my Department reiterated these concerns when they met with their Indonesian counterparts at the ASEM senior officials meeting, held in Jakarta, on 12 and 13 May.

My colleague, Deputy Kitt, Minister of State for overseas development and human rights, recently met with Mr. John Rumbiak of the Institute of Human Rights Study and Advocacy – ELSHAM. Mr. Rumbiak briefed the Minister of State on the situation in Papua, including recent events in the central highlands.

The Minister of State informed Mr. Rumbiak that the Government will continue to monitor closely the situation in Papua, and will continue to encourage the authorities in Indonesia to act with full regard to the rights and interests of the people of Papua.

I hope to have a further opportunity to meet with Minister Wirajuda at the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in July 2003, which he will host. Ireland, together with our EU partners, will continue to support the development of a strengthened dialogue and partnership between the EU and Indonesia, and see this as the most effective way at this time of addressing our serious concerns about the situation in Papua.


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