Facebook Twitter Google Plus Vimeo Youtube Feed Feedburner

ROS LBoard 1

Papuan separatists to petition UN against Indonesian rule

 | September 7, 2017

Benny Wenda, international spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says the human rights situation had worsened under Indonesian President Joko Widodo, with estimates of up to 8,000 people arrested last year.

benny-wendaGENEVA: The people of West Papua are facing a “slow motion genocide” and demand independence from Indonesia, separatist leaders told Reuters after a march in Geneva, adding they would press their case with a petition to the United Nations in New York.

Benny Wenda, international spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said the human rights situation had worsened under Indonesian President Joko Widodo, with estimates of up to 8,000 people arrested last year.

“They look at West Papua differently, as subhuman, and as a colony. We are not equal. That’s why if we live with Indonesia, in 30 years time my people will disappear,” he told Reuters.

Indonesian presidential spokesman Johan Budi declined to comment on the separatists’ comments.

West Papua and Papua provinces – often collectively referred to as West Papua – make up the western half of an island north of Australia, with independent Papua New Guinea to the east.

The provinces have been gripped by a long-running and often violent separatist conflict since they were incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized UN-backed referendum in 1969. Dutch colonial rule ended in 1963.

Widodo has made easing the tension in the two provinces on the island a key goal, through stepping up investment, freeing political prisoners, and addressing human rights concerns.

However, Oridek Ap, coordinator for Free West Papua Campaign in the Netherlands, said his father was killed in 1984 for singing freedom songs, and it was still dangerous to speak out.

“Sometimes they find a body and we have confirmation of death. But as long as somebody is disappeared we don’t have confirmation,” he said.

“When we talk about slow motion genocide, how can you prove it. On the other side of the border we are talking about 7-8 million Papuans. Why not on our side? This killing is still going on.”

The separatists say there are 2.5 million West Papuans, roughly the same as 50 years ago.

“What happened in 1969 was a fraud,” Wenda said. “This is why West Papuans believe that our right to self-determination under international law still exists.”

“Geneva is the house of human rights and freedom. That’s why we start here, and then we go to New York,” he said.

Wenda, who has political asylum in Britain, added: “We need to solve this problem in the United Nations.”

Last month Indonesia struck a deal with US mining firm Freeport McMoRan Inc to take a 51% stake in Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine, which is in Papua.


Comments

Readers are required to have a valid Facebook account to comment on this story. We welcome your opinions to allow a healthy debate. We want our readers to be responsible while commenting and to consider how their views could be received by others. Please be polite and do not use swear words or crude or sexual language or defamatory words. FMT also holds the right to remove comments that violate the letter or spirit of the general commenting rules.

The views expressed in the contents are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of FMT.

Comments