The International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) held a major meeting in the UK Parliament yesterday (October 18th 2023), calling for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be urgently allowed to visit West Papua.
The IPWP meeting was held to support the recent communique issued at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders’ Summit in August, urging Indonesia to facilitate a UN visit to West Papua before the next Leaders’ Summit in 2024. Indonesia promised to facilitate a UN visit in 2018. Five years on, they are no closer to allowing the UN access.
Over 85 countries have now called for the UN visit. This includes all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS), the European Commission, and individual nations including the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands. At Indonesia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last year in Geneva, eight countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia, expressed profound concern over the human rights situation in West Papua and urged international investigation.
The IPWP meeting was hosted by Alex Sobel, UK Labour MP and IPWP Chair. West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda addressed the crowded room, along with Jennifer Robinson, of Doughty Street Chambers and the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP). MEP and President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont and Senator Gorka Elejebarrieta, both IPWP Vice Chairs, addressed the meeting by video link.
Demonstrations took place across West Papua over the past two days in support of the meeting.
Benny Wenda said: “I welcome the MSG communique, but words have to mean action. Even since the MSG meeting Indonesia has killed many West Papuans, and tortured and displaced even more. Melanesian leaders should ask themselves: are we trying to save West Papuans, or are we allowing Indonesia to carry on their occupation with impunity? The MSG and PIF must do all in their power to secure a visit.”
Carles Puigdemont said: “If Indonesia has a serious commitment to become a member of the part of the international community that respects human rights, there is no other alternative than for Jakarta than to facilitate the UN High Commissioner’s visit right now… I reassure you that our just struggle for a free West Papua will continue, in the European Parliament and at the European Commission.”
Gorka Elejebarrieta said: “We believe that the reports of serious human rights violations in West Papua have to be taken into account. We believe that the international community, and especially the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, cannot avoid the issue any longer. Indonesia must support and facilitate mechanisms of the international community for the full respect of human rights and the full respect of the rights of West Papuans.”