Green MEP for the South East Caroline Lucas played host to a group of human rights activists and a traditional West Papuan dance troupe at a reception last night to mark the launch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua.
Caroline Lucas, who is also the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, is a long time supporter of the campaign for the peaceful independence of West Papua from Indonesia – and for the right of self-determination for its people. She commented: “It is important that the plight of the West Papuan people gains more recognition in the EU – and I hope that this launch event has helped shine more of a spotlight on their continued struggle for self-determination.
“Tens of thousands of Indonesian troops are currently stationed in West Papua, with systematic human rights abuses including arbitrary detention, rape, torture, beatings in custody and extra-judicial killing commonly reported.
“The EU must put pressure on Indonesia to end its curbs on the freedom of journalists and human rights observers, withdraw its military presence from West Papua, and engage in dialogue with the West Papuan leaders.”
Benny Wenda, exiled West Papuan leader and chair of Koteka Tribal Assembly, said: “I bring the voice of the West Papuan people to the European Parliament, which is an important and significant first step. The voice of the West Papuans has never been heard before at EU level.”
Melinda Janki, Co-Chair of International Lawyers for West Papua, added: “West Papua’s legal right to self-determination was violated in 1969 in the so-called Act of Free choice. All we ask is that Indonesia and the rest of the world respect the rule of law and allow West Papua to freely exercise their right to self-determination.”
Key aims of the IPWP group, which successfully launched in the British parliament in 2008, include:
– Lobbying for a new act of self-determination in accordance with international law in which indigenous West Papuans are freely allowed to choose their international status
– Calling for and supporting the immediate removal of Indonesian troops from West Papua
– Calling for an international peacekeeping force for West Papua under the authority of the United Nations
– Requesting their governments to stop all arms sales to Indonesia until Indonesian troops in West Papua have been replaced by a peacekeeping force