Pacific Media Watch

28 September 2017

WEST PAPUA: Indonesia ‘rejects’ Pacific support of self-determination

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Indonesia 'categorically rejects' Pacific support of West Papuan self-determination ... province 'integral part of Indonesia'. Video still: UNGA

JAKARTA (Pacific Media Watch): Pacific support of West Papuan self-determination at the United Nations General Assembly has been labelled by Indonesia as “illegal”.

“We cannot let this happen, we cannot let this continue on. Indonesia categorically rejects all accusations made by these countries and individuals with separatist agendas operating behind them,” Indonesia’s spokeswoman Ainan Nuran, third secretary at Indonesia’s Permanent Mission in New York, said during the country’s right of reply.

During the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), leaders of the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and Grenadines condemned human rights violations in West Papua and expressed their support for West Papua’s right to self-determination.

Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of the Solomon Islands, encouraged the UN to leave no one behind: “Our people are watching, West Papuans inside West Papua are watching, praying and are hoping for a brighter future. They have come in numbers to express their hope for a better future. We as leaders have this responsibility of ‘leaving no-one behind’.”

Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, reaffirmed his country’s support of West Papua and recognised West Papua’s Pacific roots: “The West Papuans are a distinct people with Pacific roots, with their own land, history and identity. The violation of human rights in West Papua is a constant matter of great concern to us.”

Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, the prime minister of Vanuatu, called on the international community to stop turning a deaf ear to the atrocities committed against West Papuans: “Mr President, for half a century now the international community has been witnessing a wide range of torture, murder exploitation, sexual violence and arbitrary detention, inflicted on the nationals of West Papua, perpetrated by Indonesia. But the international community turned a deaf ear to the appeals for help. We urge the Human Rights Council to investigate these cases.”

Indonesia, however, said the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, along with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, had been “blindfolded” and “foolishly deceived” by West Papua’s independence movement.

West Papuan 'redevelopments'
Nuran also labelled documented human rights abuses against indigenous West Papuans as “false and hoax allegations”.

“Time and time again, the same fabricated and false accusations are thrown at us. These countries are sadly blindfolded. They fail to understand, or more precisely, refuse to understand,” Nuran said.

Nuran stated that under Indonesian rule the provinces of Papua and West Papua had undergone “massive redevelopments and progress” which had seen them become the fastest growing regions in Indonesia.

“During the past three years, 4325km of roads were built, 30 new sea ports, seven new airports, 2.8 million Papuans have free basic healthcare. 360,000 Papuan students have free education. 

“Papua and West Papua provinces are an integral and sovereign part of Indonesia. They will always remain an integral part of Indonesia,” Nuran said.

Indonesia ended its right of reply with a strong message for its critics: “I would like to conclude by quoting an old proverb in Indonesia that says: “If you slap the water in a bucket, then be careful that the water will splash all over your own face.”

The Free West Papua Campaign has hit back at Indonesia's statements: "No matter how many roads you build, you cannot cover up the blood of the 500,000 West Papuan people your government has killed."

'Historic' petition signed 
Indonesia’s response comes in the same week a historic petition demanding a new independence referendum was presented to the UN’s Decolonisation Committee by United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) spokesperson and exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. 

Despite Indonesia’s open opposition to the petition – the Indonesian government banned it, threatening those who signed it with arrest and jail - 1.8 million West Papuans signed the petition, more than 70 percent of the province’s population, ULMWP said. 

“In the West Papuan People’s Petition, we hand over the bones of the people of West Papua to the United Nations and the world.

“After decades of suffering, decades of genocide, decades of occupation, today we open up the voice of the West Papuan people which lives inside this petition.

“My people want to be free,” Wenda said.

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