Our demand self-determination cannot be sidelined
Let me first, thank the governments of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. These three Pacific countries – out of the many Pacific Island nations – raised their concern over the ongoing human rights violations in West Papua at the United Nations General Assembly a week ago in New York City. It takes courage to stand and support an issue many of their colleagues chose to ignore. Prior to that, the Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands’ missions to Brussels urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to use the UN Systems to investigate what is going on in West Papua, and to ensure that the people are given the right to vote for their own self-determination. This is something that the Indonesian government robbed from our indigenous West Papuans in 1969.
It is time to right the wrong of the past while preventing the loss of more precious lives on both sides. Right now, there are only two options to the conflict: 1. a peaceful referendum similar to the referendum in East Timor in 1999, or 2. a continuation of the battle that has been raging since 1969, which means more deaths and more suffering. Here at the West Papuan Human Rights Center in Washington, DC, we believe that the only solution to this five-decades old conflict is a referendum, and a serious conversation about West Papuan independence.
President Joko Widodo must consider our call for an Independence referendum
A few hours ago, the Australian media reported that President Joko Widodo is willing to meet with the West Papuan pro-independence representatives. Is this a hoax? If it is true, will there be a third party involved, or is this just another attempt by Widodo to buy time give our people more failed promises? His government had authorized the military crackdown on our peaceful protesters, killing more than thirty, displaced thousands, used banned chemical bombs in the past, and injured hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians – women, men, and children, and he wants to meet for a chit-chat? Is he crazy? If President Widodo is willing to meet West Papuan pro-independence leaders, he must have a mediator to ensure that he is transparent in his desire to solve this issue. And it would be wise for him to hold this meeting outside of Indonesia.
Other news reports indicated that the Indonesian government is working with the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to finalize a date for a visit to West Papua, and this is weeks after Indonesian rejected the commissioner’s request for visit at the beginning of the uprising in West Papua, which would saved the lives of those killed just weeks later. We have seen this game played out in the past, and we don’t believe it to be genuine, but if it is so, our demands for self-determination cannot be sidelined.
Who is in control of Indonesia?
Just a week ago Mr. Wiranto, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs and retired General who is wanted for war crimes, said there’s no way this would happen. He somehow overrides his president? Who is in charge of Indonesia, the president or this war criminal? It seems that the president is being control by his hardcore military leaders, so who will prevail? It is time for President Widodo to step up and take the lead and say – enough of the killing and work with our leaders to resolve these issues, because at this point their military operations in West Papua is a failure. All they did is killing unarmed people and further tarnished the reputation of Indonesian presence in West Papua. It only drives neutral people to the side of the pro-independence movement. It is a failure! We have warned that this conflict will never be solved by military hardware, and here we are. It is time for the president to be serious about peaceful dialogue, but he must consider the desires and demands of our people. He can’t just show up and demand peace after his soldiers murdered many of our people.
The apparent disconnect between this war-criminal Wiranto and President Widodo appears to be ploy – a time killing tactic, but we are not going anywhere either.
The United Nations must act
I know that this is a request that the UN continues to ignore, but I’ll say it again and again until someone listens. We strongly urge that the UN to intervene in West Papua. Whether Indonesia agree with it or not, the UN Human Rights Council Commissioner has an obligation to protect innocent lives, and a visit to West Papua is urgent. If the Indonesian government’s claim that the media reports and allegations of human rights violations are hoaxes, why don’t they open West Papua up to the world? So far, the Indonesian just rejected:
- International Human rights organizations
- Humanitarian organizations
- Journalists – foreign press
- Foreigners documentary makers
What are you hiding Indonesia?
Decolonization Committee – 2020 Agenda
I also urge the UN to include West Papua in its Decolonisation committee listing for 2020, as one of its highest priorities. It is crucial that that UN corrected its mistake and make up for its role in the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’. It was a scam perpetrated against our people fifty years ago with the help of the UN. The fact that in 1969 the UN peacekeeping operation in West Papua handed over the security of West Papua and the execution of the ‘Act of Free Choice’ to a country that wanted West Papua in the first place, makes the UN party to a conspiracy to colonize our people against our will. It is time to correct that mistake by including West Papua in its upcoming 2020 decolonization agenda.
Thanks to all our supporters, and I urge our people back home to continue demanding answers from Indonesia. Renounce violence and raise your voice! Make your voices heard!