Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Campaign Response: Letter from your constituent regarding West Papua

Thank you to constituents for writing to me about concerns regarding the current situation in West Papua.

I am aware of the violence that we have seen in the far-eastern province of Indonesia over the past 50 years and I am concerned to learn of recent developments there and in particular, the disregard for the fundamental freedoms of religion and worship.

Indonesia has been considered an ally of the West since the end of WWII. However, very little attention has been paid to the Christian Papuan majority who are politically and socially marginalised. In West Papua, nearly 60% of the population consider themselves Christian.

Racial tension and religious intolerance have flourished in West Papua, with Islamic Indonesian culture dominating the region and further Islamisation becoming the norm. A 2016 report by the Archdiocese of Brisbane in Australia described arrests, poisoning, fire bombs, kidnapping, torture and other attacks on the Christian population, with multiple reports of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Islamic militants in the province under the watch of the Indonesia government. Christian Solidarity Worldwide has also produced a briefing suggesting that "the militarisation of West Papua has led to widespread and serious violations of human rights, and there are fears of religious tensions developing.”

Therefore I am very pleased to learn from constituents that a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on West Papua is being set up – APPGs are excellent forums for bringing MPs and experts in the field together to discuss important issues like this and I have the privilege of chairing and vice chairing a large number of APPGs focusing on issues of particular relevance and interest to Mid-Cornwall. If I am find the time and capacity to look into issues facing West Papua, I will be sure to bear this APPG in mind and support their work in making representations to the FCO. Where there are other opportunities for me to speak up for human rights and the freedom of religion around the world, I will of course be mindful of the specific concerns on West Papua and seek to voice them where I can.