No International Red Cross Return For Papua

No International Red Cross Return For Papua
Jakarta Globe, Ismira Lutfia & Putri Prameshwari

The Indonesian government on Friday reiterated its position that the International Committee of the Red Cross would not be allowed to open an office in Papua, despite the Australian Senate’s motion urging the government to allow the Red Cross unfettered access to the troubled region.

The motion, introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, was supported by the Senate, including members of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government.

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said the Red Cross has no mandate under any bilateral agreements between Indonesia and Australia to open a branch office in the province.

“It’s not easy for an international organization to open a branch office anywhere they want to across Indonesia,” he said.

Faizasyah said the Red Cross may send its employees from its office in Jakarta to Papua, but it would not be allowed to open an office there.

The Red Cross was forced to shut its office and leave Papua in April after its representatives visited prisoners there, including alleged separatist rebels.

At the time, the Foreign Affairs Ministry denied that the closure of the Red Cross office was connected to the prison visits, saying the Red Cross was operating illegally.

In April, Faizasyah said two deals signed by the Red Cross and the government in 1977 and 1987 did not permit the organization to open offices in Aceh or Papua.