A group of UK parliamentarians have welcomed the handing over of the West Papuan People’s Petition to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
In a statement, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on West Papua, representing parliamentarians from all of the UK’s major political parties, said:
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on West Papua is overjoyed to hear that the West Papuan People’s Petition has been officially handed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva with support from the Vanuatu government. The petition, signed by 70% of the Papuan population and calling for self-determination for the territory, was an arduous and heroic achievement of the West Papuan people. We hope the UN will now respond by fulfilling its historic duties to rectify the 1969 Act of Free Choice and allow West Papuans to freely determine their own future.
The petition hand-in comes at a time of great concern in West Papua, with chemical weapons reportedly deployed by the Indonesian military and a humanitarian crisis in Nduga. Thousands of Papuans have been internally displaced, and several have died. We call for the urgent removal of Indonesian security forces from the Nguda Regency and for Indonesia to allow humanitarian and monitoring agencies in to the area.
Organised by the Vanuatu government, the petition was officially presented by Benny Wenda, the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, with state-level support from the Vanuatu government. The petition was signed by 1.8 million West Papuans in 2017, and calls for the UN to uphold Indigenous Papuans’ fundamental right to self determination.
The meeting comes as a humanitarian crisis in West Papua intensifies, with chemical weapons reportedly deployed by the Indonesian military in the Nduga Regency and thousands of Papuans fleeing their villages.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has pledged to bring the petition to the UN General Assembly next.