Indonesian Foreign Minister Says Papua Needs Autonomy

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 9:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says his government is fully aware of rights abuses in Indonesia's resource-rich Papua region.

Natalegawa told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York the government understands the two provinces of Papua “need special attention, special empowerment” and that autonomy is the solution.

Indonesia took over Papua in 1969 from Dutch colonial rule and has faced a separatist insurgency in the region for decades.

In 2001, Jakarta granted Papua special autonomy status, giving local authorities more control over tax revenues, but there has been little improvement on poverty. Rights groups have said that Indonesian forces have killed civilians and imprisoned peaceful activists.

Papua province, which shares an island with Papua New Guinea, is rich in natural resources and is home to U.S. gold and copper mining giant Freeport McMoRan. Tensions between workers and security forces have led to violence at the mine.