Contributed by freewestpapua.org
Tuesday 24th the International Parliamentarians for West Papua and the Free West Papua Campaign hosted the official launch of the Global Petition for an Internationally Supervised Vote in the Palace of Westminster.
Co-founders of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, and Andrew Smith MP, chaired the event with Benny Wenda, Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua; human rights activist Peter Tatchell; and the Swim for West Papua team; all speaking to honour the occasion.
More information on the event below.
This global petition is a vital grassroots effort to support the principles of the Westminster declaration for an internationally supervised vote for West Papua.
The petition is to be signed by everyone who supports West Papua’s right to self-determination. It will be run globally for 8 months until August 2017, when the petition will be presented by a British team of swimmers who are swimming it 69 kms across Lake Geneva to hand the petition to the UN.
We hope that the petition will receive the deserved attention it needs to ensure that the West Papua’s urgent human rights situation, and a review of the illegal “Act of Free Choice”, is returned to the UN agenda urgently.
There will be a dedicated campaign where people can follow the campaign and swimmers here; https://www.swimforwestpapua.com/ #BackTheSwim #LetWestPapuaVote
The petition reads as follows;
To Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres,
As concerned citizens from around the world, we call on you to urgently address the human rights situation in West Papua and to review the UN’s involvement in the administration of West Papua that led to its unlawful annexation by Indonesia ‐ and the human rights abuse that continues today.
We call upon you to:
- Appoint a Special Representative to investigate the human rights situation in West Papua;
- Put West Papua back on the Decolonisation Committee agenda and ensure their right to self‐determination ‐- denied to them in 1969 -‐ is respected by holding an Internationally Supervised Vote (in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 (XV)).
Please do follow the links to add your name to this important petition;
If you are an elected MP or state representative please also follow the link to the Westminster Declaration here;
The petition calls on the United Nations Secretary General to address the human rights situation in West Papua and to ensure West Papua’s right to self-determination through the vote.
The petition will play a significant part in West Papua’s journey towards independence by demonstrating the huge levels of support around the world for West Papuans to have the opportunity decide their own future. This will build on the growing diplomatic backing for a supervised vote, and is the vital step towards West Papua’s independence and the end of the genocide being perpetrated by Indonesia.
The Swim for West Papua Team joined Free West Papua and its supporters for the launch. The team are demonstrating their concern for, and solidarity with, the West Papuan people by performing an incredible physical feat; they will deliver the petition to the UN in August 2017, carrying it to its destination across the 69km length of Lake Geneva.
The event was chaired by Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP, co-founder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua. Benny Wenda, Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, described how the swim will serve to highlight and promote the petition and called the West Papuan struggle a ‘human issue’, rather than solely a Melanesian or Pacific one. Benny concluded with a clear call to action: ‘West Papua needs you to support the swim: sign this petition and get as many people as possible to sign it too.’
Joel and Tim, members of the Swim for West Papua Team, spoke about feeling compelled to act to alter the situation in West Papua, and inviting others to be involved in ‘something bigger than all of us… it is time to stand with the people of West Papua and ensure that change occurs, that our weight, our energy, our efforts, never cease until an internationally supervised vote on self-determination actually happens.’
Moving messages of support from within West Papua were also shared at the meeting via video footage. These included a demonstration, bravely conducted in defiance of the Indonesian authorities by political prisoners in Timika, led by local West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Steven Itlay.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, co-founder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, shared a message of support from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu which decried the lack of media attention in the West devoted to West Papua. He also commended the Swim Team and called for solidarity with the West Papuan people: ‘we may live in different regions of the world, but we are one family’. Lord Harries then declared the petition open for signing.
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, then spoke, encouraging West Papua’s supporters to sign and share the petition online. He quoted Martin Luther King’s words ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’, adding that one day, West Papua will be free.
The event was a resounding success and marked the beginning of the petition’s journey to the United Nations. In years to come, by joining together the voices of so many of West Papua’s friends and supporters, the petition will be an important thread, woven into the story of West Papua’s successful struggle for freedom.
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