Contributed by Ugly
Exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda has presented a smuggled out petition to the United Nations’ decolonisation committee, bearing the signatures of 1.8 million, or 70 percent of the population West Papuans.
The petition calls for a free vote on independence and asks the United Nations to appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses and put West Papua back into the road to decolonisation through an internationally supervised vote.
Yanto Awerkson, who was jailed in June for leading a rally in support of the petition said this from his prison.
“From behind the iron bars I order and appeal to the international community and to the United Nations, please hear the voice of the West Papuan people.”
Indonesia has been occupying the territory since 1963 and maintains control through brute military force.
The petition was banned in occupied West Papua and online access was censored. Anyone caught having anything to do with it risked imprisonment and even death. It is remarkable that so many singed it.
The Decolonisation Committee’s role is to monitor former colonies in their progress towards independence.
Benny Wanda said: “The people have risked their lives, some have been beaten up, some are in prison. In 50 years, we have never done this before, and we had to organise this in secret.
“People were willing to carry it between villages, to smuggle it from one end of Papua to the other, because this petition is very significant for us in our struggle for freedom.”
Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir, accompanying the country’s contingent to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, dismissed the West Papua petition as baseless theatrics and insisted that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.
It is clear. The West Papuans don’t agree and the world is coming around to supporting them. It may yet take a little while to bear fruit. But the day will come.