Pressure mounts on Indonesia as pacific nations bring grave abuses in West Papua to UN and support calls for self-determination. Kate Gething-Lewis and Andrew Butler report.
On 1st March 2017, the Vanuatu Minister of Justice, Ronald K Warsal, addressed the Council on behalf of seven Pacific nations. He began his address saying:
‘Today, I am speaking on behalf of both Vanuatu and six other nations of our Pacific region: Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands Mr. President, we seven have come together today – and in a separate written joint statement – in order to draw the attention of the distinguished members of the UN Human Rights Council to the grave situation in West Papua.’
Warsal went on to draw attention to accounts of Indonesian state violence in West Papua, including: ‘killings and arrests of Papuans; extrajudicial executions of activists; the arrests, beatings and fatal shootings of peaceful demonstrators, including high school students; and reports of persistent violence against Papuan women.’
Noting the failure of the Indonesian government to curtail these and other abuses, he called on the UN Human Rights Council to ‘request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce a consolidated report on the actual situation in West Papua.’ He stated that the report should ‘detail the various rights under the International Bill of Human Rights and the related conventions, including the right to self-determination,’ something the West Papuan people have been striving for since 1963.
Reacting to the statement, Benny Wenda of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who was in attendance in Geneva, said: ‘This is a historical moment for West Papua, as it is the first time in West Papuan history that we are represented at the Human Rights Council, at this level. On behalf of the people of West Papua, we extend our profound gratitude to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific nations for your true leadership. For more than 50 years West Papua has been kept a secret. The time is now to request the UN revisit our case. The time is now for West Papua’s struggle to come to an end. We ask for all brothers and sisters across the Pacific, Africa, and around the world to please support West Papua’s legal right to self-determination. We want to be free.’
In the next stage of the campaign, six young swimmers will embark on a 69 kilometre journey up the length of Lake Geneva in August. They will carry with them a petition (which was launched in Westminster by Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Andrew Smith MP & Human rights activist Peter Tatchell) demanding an internationally supervised vote for the people of West Papua.
So far 20,000 people have signed the petition on the Avaaz website, and reports of Avaaz being banned in Indonesia are currently being investigated.
We would like to thank the members of the Pacific Coalition for their continued support for the rights of the people of West Papua, including their right to self-determination.
Support has come in from around West Papua to thank the leaders of the Pacific Coalition for their continued support.
Today at the offices of the KNPB, Timika, West Papua. People prayed to give full support and thanks to the Pacific coalition for West Papua at the UN in Geneva.
Kate Gething-Lewis and Andrew Butler are members of the Free West Papua Campaign.
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