Westminster meeting makes new declaration for West Papua’s future

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Benny Wenda (from left), Vanuatu Foreign Minister Bruno Leingkone, Tongan PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva and Minister for Lands, Ralph Regenvanu (also Vanuatu), at the International Parliamentarians for West Papua meeting at the Houses of Parliament, London yesterday. Image: David Mirzoeff/Free West Papua Campaign

An historic step on the road to freedom for West Papua has been taken in London.

At a meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the Houses of Parliament, a new declaration was made yesterday calling for an internationally supervised vote on the independence of West Papua.

The meeting was attended and supported by Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva the Prime Minister of Tonga; Bruno Leingkone, Minister for Foreign Affairs in Vanuatu; Rex Horoi, MSG Special Envoy on West Papua, Solomon Islands; Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in Vanuatu; Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro District, Papua New Guinea; Lord Harries of Pentregarth, UK House of Lords, Jeremy Corbyn, MP, Leader of the UK Opposition; and Benny Wenda, international spokesperson of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and several other British MPs.

The Prime Minister of Tonga offered his country’s full support for the ongoing struggle of the people of West Papua. He explained how it was the responsibility of the United Nations to ensure human rights were upheld in West Papua and how he would continue to push for this.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his personal interest in West Papua and his role as a UN observer in East Timor. He talked of the need for justice and human rights to be delivered to the people of West Papua and stated that the world could either continue having this conflict or could choose to live in a world of peace and justice which would come from the recognition of human rights for everybody – a cornerstone of foreign policy.

He reiterated his support for the struggle for freedom of West Papua and how he would like this to be written in the policy of the British Labour Party.

A statement by the Prime Minister of Guyana, Moses Nagamootoo was read by Melinda Janki, an international human rights lawyer. He offered his country’s ongoing support of the right to self determination for the people of West Papua.

-Partners-

Ralph Regenvanu told of Vanuatu’s long term support for West Papua. He spoke of how the first Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Father Walter Lini, had stated that “Vanuatu would not be truly independent while any other Melanesian country is not”.

MSG commitment
He spoke of the commitment by Melanesian countries to bring West Papua into the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and that Vanuatu was working for West Papua to gain full membership of the MSG at its upcoming meeting.

Rex Horoi special envoy from the Solomon Islands highlighted the key areas of the Solomon Islands support for West Papua which involved: urgency of stopping Human rights abuse in West Papua, recognsising the political identity of the ULMWP and the strategic engagement of the Solomon Islands government with neighbours in the Pacific and around the world. He also redefined the importance of the Pacific by renaming the “small island states” as the “big ocean states”.

Gary Juffa also mentioned his personal connection with the people of West Papua. He told of how his father had captained the first boat of refugees from West Papua and how he promised them that he would do everything he could to fight with them for their freedom.

He explained that regrettably PNG still recognised Indonesian sovereignty but a large movement in PNG was emerging in support of West Papuan freedom and that he would continue to be one of the main political voices of this movement.

Lord Harries remembered meeting Benny Wenda when he first came to the UK in 2003, how the issue was almost unknown at this time and what a long way it had come today with representatives from the “big ocean nations” championing the cause.

He continued to read out a statement of support by Reverend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

“Dear people and friends of West Papua. Please accept, from the southern tip of Africa, the love and blessings of a retired fellow-traveller for justice. Human rights and justice are universal values. It has been very heartening to witness the growth of the movement to secure justice for the people of West Papua. Your call for an internationally supervised vote to determine the will of the people of West Papua has my support. God bless you.”

Finally Benny Wenda, described his feelings around being here now after a long journey, declaring that the Indonesian occupation is illegal and must be ended now.

He finished by reading out the declaration that was signed by all international parliamentarians present.

The secretary-general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote, rounded it off thanking everyone, including the various generations of freedom fighters for Papua represented here.

The declaration reads as follows:

Westminster Declaration for an Internationally Supervised Vote in West Papua

We the undersigned Members of Parliament, being members of the International Parliamentarians For West Papua:

I. Declare that continued human rights violations in West Papua are unacceptable.

II. Warn that without international action the West Papuan people risk extinction.

III. Reiterate the right of the people of West Papua to genuine self-determination.

IV. Declare the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’ to be a gross violation of this principle.

V. Call for an internationally supervised vote on self- determination in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 (XV).

Palace of Westminster, 3 May 2016

An historic day ... the Westminster Declaration on West Papua. Image: David Mirzoeff/Free West Papua Campaign
An historic day … the Westminster Declaration on West Papua. Image: David Mirzoeff/Free West Papua Campaign


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