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NZ police training in West Papua on hold

02 June 2014

The Indonesian government has temporarily scrapped a controversial New Zealand-run police training programme for officers involved in the military occupation of West Papua.

Radio New Zealand International reported that the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said only that Indonesia had pulled out of the next phase of the programme “at this time”.

However, the programme could be revived after the Indonesian presidential elections in July as the ministry has said the future of the programme will depend on the priorities agreed by New Zealand and the newly elected government.

The $6.3 million, three-year-old programme has been unpopular with New Zealand and West Papuan activists, opposition party leaders and the peace movement.

In February this year, Victor Mambor, chairperson of the Alliance of Independent Journalists of Papua, told The New Zealand Herald newspaper that New Zealand’s police training of Indonesians was nothing more than “aid that kills”.

Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand representative Kevin McBride said earlier this year that the programme should be scrapped permanently because the New Zealand government had falsely billed it as one which instilled principles of “civil policing and community engagement”.

And a video showing violent repression by the Indonesian police has received wide airplay.

Green Party concern

Today, the Green Party’s Catherine Delahunty welcomed the news.

“The Green Party is pleased the programme is not going ahead because we felt it was a farce and we were very concerned about the view of West Papuans that this was aid that kills. So we won’t be wasting NZ$ 6.3 million on a whitewash”, she told RNZI.

Earlier this year, Pacific and local community leaders and activists based in New Zealand slated the government’s training programme at a conference held at AUT University to commemorate international Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) day.


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