29 Nov 2006

GREENS LAUNCH EU BID TO ‘FREE WEST PAPUA’

GREENS LAUNCH EU BID TO ‘FREE WEST PAPUA’

WRITTEN DECLARATION CALLS FOR INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

EURO-MPs are to call for the EU to intervene in forcing Indonesia to respect
human rights in West Papua – and grant the province a free and fair
referendum on independence – in a Written Declaration launched this Friday
(December 1st) to coincide with West Papua Independence Day.

The Written Declaration – the European Parliament’s equivalent of an Early
Day Motion in the House of Commons – has been co-sponsored by Green MEPs
Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, Plaid Cymru Euro-MP Jill Evans and Italian
liberal MEP Luigi Cocilovo.

It notes that following the withdrawal of Dutch colonial forces, West Papua
has been under military occupation by Indonesia for more than 40 years. At
that time it was allowed to administer the territory until a UN-guaranteed
independence referendum could be held, but Indonesia failed to fulfil its
obligations under international law and hold such a vote, instead annexing
West Papua following a sham vote – the co-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in
1969, in which just 1,000 Papuans, hand-picked by Indonesia, were allowed to
participate.

Human rights abuses of Papuans continue – with torture, disappearances,
detention without trial and murder of Papuans at the hands of the Indonesia
military commonplace.

Dr Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England, said: “The people of Papua
were promised a referendum on independence when the Dutch former colonial
rulers withdrew from the country four decades ago.

“They are still waiting – and meanwhile the Papuans continue to suffer
terrible repression, violence and abuse at the hands of an Indonesian
government more interested in securing lucrative business deals than
honouring historical agreements – or obeying international law.

“This Written Declaration calls on the EU to do whatever is in its power to
persuade Indonesia to change its approach – and grant freedom to the people
of West Papua that they might choose their future themselves.”

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. Formerly a Dutch
colony, it was invaded by Indonesia in 1962. The resource-rich country,
which boasts millions of square kilometers of tropical hardwood rainforest,
massive oil reserves and, reportedly, the largest gold mine in the world,
has remained under Jakarta’s yoke ever since. UK multi-nationals BP and Rio
Tinto both have substantial interests in West Papua.

The Written Declaration, which needs to attract the support of half the
European parliament’s 732 members to become official parliamentary policy,
will be published this week to coincide with West Papua Independence Day,
which is being marked by London demonstrations outside the Indonesian
Embassy and the headquarters of both Rio Tinto and BP.

West Papua Independence Day is held on December 1st to mark the anniversary
of the Dutch promise to grant independence to West Papua, originally made on
December 1st, 1961. The day provides a focus for demonstrations and
political activity for Free West Papua activists around the world:
ironically, though, the Indonesian authorities have violently crushed any
public demands for independence in the province itself. In 2004, two Papuan
activists, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, were arrested for peacefully
raising a West Papuan flag. Both are still serving long jail sentences.

The London demonstration, which starts at 12 noon outside the Indonesian
Embassy in Grosvenor Square, is expected to attract significant Green Party
support, and will be addressed by the party’s Principal Speaker Derek Wall.

Next week Indonesian and EU officials meet for a day of cultural and
economic discussions ahead of a planned visit to the EU by Indonesian
president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Dr Lucas said: “The EU-Indonesia day talks provide a perfect opportunity for
EU officials to raise the issue of human rights abuses and West Papua’s
constitutional status with their Indonesian counterparts. I hope they will
do so, but I’m not holding my breath.

“The advance papers for the meeting appear to heap praise on what EU
officials describe as Indonesia’s democratic and peaceful handling of the
island country’s various independence struggles – but these are words which
clearly don’t apply in West Papua and it is equally clear that next week’s
meeting is more about promoting trade than justice or human rights.”

In a direct message for the Papuan people to be read out on the island on
Friday, Dr Lucas said: “Indonesian oppression has led to the deaths of at
least 100,000 indigenous Papuans since the occupation began in 1962.
Beatings, rapes, torture and killings inflicted by the Indonesian army
continue unchecked: the military must withdraw from West Papua immediately.”

She added: “The people of West Papua deserve an end to the Indonesian
military occupation, the exploitation of their rich natural resources and
real self-determination.

“Only this will bring long-term peace to the island and an end to the
violence, intimidation and human rights atrocities to which we bear witness
today. Until West Papua is free, none of us are. Free West Papua! Papua
Merdaka!”


ENDS

Note to Editors:

Dr Lucas’s Written Declaration is available at www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
(click on the Written Declarations tab and follow the links) – or on request
from Ben by email or ‘phone.

For more details of West Papua Independence Day, or Friday’s demo contact
Richard Samuelson of the Free West Papua Campaign samoxen@dsl.pipex.com Tel.
01865 241200. www.freewestpapua.og

For more information please contact Ben on 01273 671946, 07973 823358 or
ben@greenmeps.org.uk

www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk




Ben Duncan
Media Officer to Caroline Lucas MEP
benduncan@greenmeps.org.uk
01273 671946 (office)

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