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People of Papua Need Referendum, Not Welfare Measures

The People of PAPUA DO NOT NEED WELFARE Measures, But a REFERENDUM Needs to Take Place Immediately!

West Papua National Committee [KNPB]
London, August 25, 2011.

After the mass mobilization of the people of Papua on 2nd August 2011, and the conference of the International Lawyers on West Papua (ILWP) in Oxford England, conflicts and various cases of violence continue to occur in Papua. The events attracted reactions from various parties as they gave their boisterous opinions, statements, and speculative solutions, which do not touch the essence of the conflict in West Papua. The Government of the Republic of Indonesia and various other parties still consider that the conflict in Papua is a consequence of an accumulation of problems rooted in poverty and underdevelopment, as well as the mere result of the failure of special autonomy.

In that perspective, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia feels compelled to issue a variety of policies and development programs in Papua. On the one hand, there are also groups claiming to act on behalf of the people of Papua and that take advantage of the people’s movement to negotiate a solution for a peace dialogue in the Republic of Indonesia, while at the same time, the Government is advised to unfold a Presidential Unit to Accelerate the Development of Papua and West Papua (the so-called “UP4B”).

Whereas, in fact, the people of West Papua clearly and openly demand the respect of their right to self-determination through a referendum. In the heart of every Papuan, there is the burning and irresistible desire to determine their own fate, a principle by which they strongly wish to run their own affairs and to stand as an independent country, free from any occupation. That inner voice resounds in every statement, every speech, every pamphlet and banner, every single time thousands of Papuans come together in mass actions mediated by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), every single time demonstrations continue to unfold in Papua.

We see and hear in every speech that they, the people of Papua, have never demanded welfare and development through the policies of the special autonomy, nor did they call for UP4B or any other unit or plan, as a guarantee of life within the framework of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia. They do not complain because they are hungry or poor, as they live on their own land which is extremely wealthy, and which continues to be exploited by colonialists and capitalists. The one thing they want is the restoration and respect of their political right, a right that was seized by the forced integration in Indonesia in 1962 and the implementation of the 1969 so-called Act of Free Choice. The people of Papua form a legal entity under international law and by virtue of this they have the right to freely determine their own political future, through the mechanism of a fair and democratic referendum.

Because of the above reasons, we assert that the Government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has been mistaken in its understanding of the political upheaval in West Papua that continues to smolder. Speculative assumptions should not be used as a solution in the making of policy. Because in the end, policies that are disproportional will worsen the image of the SBY Government: the trillions of money which continue to be poured into Papua for the realization of Special Autonomy projects, the UP4B, as well as the financing of the army (TNI) and the police, will only add to the already poor record of corruption and persistent human rights violations.

Out of all these policies, the people of Papua will not accept a policy which would be the result of a compromise. The Papuan people will continue with rebellion. And all the way through, the Papuan conflict will never be suppressed by manipulation policies presented under the label of accelerated development.

We convey to the government of Indonesia that they should immediately stop all these policies and immediately show the political will to open up democratic space for the people of West Papua through a referendum, because under international law, the 1969 Act of Free Choice was flawed.

Victor F. Yeimo
International Spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee [KNPB]

ENDS

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