Bishop Deakin wants more action from Govt on West Papua
Caritas Australia Chairman, Bishop Hilton Deakin, has compared events in the troubled province of Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, to East Timor.
Bishop Deakin said the Australian Government should take a more proactive approach in supporting Papua's push towards independence from Indonesia.
"Apart from the fact that it's a call for the exercise of a basic human right, it's also important for us in the region that we've learnt a very costly lesson in East Timor," Bishop Deakin said.
Dozens of people, mainly settlers from other parts of Indonesia, were killed earlier this month in clashes that erupted when police pulled down a flag in the highland town of Wamena.
Bishp Deakin was speaking at a joint news conference in Melbourne with Rev Martin Wanma, Director of West Papua's Christian Coalition. They called for an end to the violence, a reduction in the number of Indonesian troops in the province and the use of international human rights observers.
"The recent increase in military and police numbers in West Papua is creating an environment in which conflict and violence between West Papuans and Indonesian authorities will increase," said Bishop Deakin.