A West Papua human rights and environmental campaigner is
calling on New Zealanders to help stop deforestation and
protect indigenous culture in the Indonesian-controlled region.
Edy Rosariyanto visited Dunedin this week to highlight the
plight of the indigenous people of West Papua - which has
been part of Indonesia since 1969.
Br Rosariyanto, who is the programme co-ordinator of the
Franciscan office for Justice, Peace and the Integrity in
West Papua, has lived and worked in West Papua confronted
with the challenges of large-scale palm oil plantations.
Speaking after giving a public seminar at the University of
Otago, he said the indigenous people of West Papua faced
"losing their identity" due to the policies of the Indonesian
In the area called Keerom, where he was based, the Government
had cut down about 40,000ha of forest and instead of
following through on its promise of"riches" to the local
population, it had robbed them of their land, which was the
source of both their food and culture, he said.
This situation could be seen in other parts of West Papua and
was part of a history of mistreatment from Indonesian
authorities, which was brutal in its suppression of
opposition in the region - with those struggling for
independence often beaten and sometimes killed.
Br Rosariyanto, who is in New Zealand to learn English so he
can spread his message to a wider audience, said New
Zealanders could make a difference in the region and called
on people to send letters to the Indonesian Government
pressuring it to change its ways.