36 Asian organisations submit memorandum to UN for West Papuan self-determination

January 30, 2018

On 26th January, the Malaysian Socialist Party submitted a memorandum to a United Nations representative in Kuala Lumpur, calling on the UN to support West Papuan self-determination and to recognize the historic West Papuan People’s Petition, signed by over 1.8 million people. The memorandum was endorsed by a total of 36 NGOs from across Malaysia and other Asian countries.

The Socialist Party of Malaysia submitting the memorandum to a UN Representative in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Socialist Party of Malaysia.

We are fully grateful for the tremendous support from all the organisations which submitted this historic memorandum to the Untied Nations in solidarity with the people of West Papua. Such solidarity means so much to the people of West Papua who continue to suffer under systematic Indonesian state oppression and occupation, simply for calling for their fundamental right to self-determination. Support for West Papua and for the incredible West Papuan People’s Petition, from such a wide variety of Asian organisations goes a along way to raising awareness and backing for the cause at an international level.

The memorandum can be read in full below:

Memorandum to the United Nations

Recognize the petition with 1.8 million signatures of West Papuans for a free vote on self-determination

26 January 2018

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the United Nations to accept and recognize the West Papuan People’s Petition, bearing the signatures of 1.8 million West Papuans (estimated to be 70.88% of the West Papuan population) with a demand for referendum on independence.

Representatives from the Socialist Party of Malaysia with the West Papua national flag before submitting their memorandum. Photo: Socialist Party of Malaysia

The West Papuan People’s Petition was launched on 5 April 2017 by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and ran until 29 July 2017. The Indonesian government reacted by criminalising and banning this petition across the whole country, and arresting people for signing it. West Papuan deputy leader of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Timika, Yanto Awerkion is currently still being detained by the Indonesian police, and is facing charges of treason and 15 years in jail.

The West Papuan People’s Petition, which was banned in Indonesia, was presented by Benny Wenda, an exiled West Papuan leader, to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization on 26th September, 2017.  Unfortunately, the UN’s decolonization committee refused to accept the petition and claimed that the issue of West Papua is not a matter for the committee.

West Papua was formerly on the decolonization committee’s agenda – which monitors progress towards decolonization and independent rule – but was removed in 1963.

West Papua was colonized by the Netherlands before annexed by Indonesia in 1963. The annexation was formalized in 1969 through the unfree “Act of Free Choice” referendum under Suharto dictatorship, when Indonesian military handpicked 1,025 out of an estimated 800,000 West Papua populations then, and compelled them into voting in favour of Indonesian annexation.

For almost half a century, an estimated 500,000 West Papuans have been killed in their fight for self-rule. The people of West Papua have endured decades of brutal oppression and culture of fear. The Indonesian military and police have conducted systemic suppression against the West Papuans by stirring up racial sentiments.

Hence, we call upon the United Nations:

–       To accept and recognize the West Papuan People’s Petition which was signed by 1.8 million West Papuans calling for a referendum on independence.

–       To include West Papua back on the list of UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization to ensure their right to self-determination.<

–       To appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses in West Papua.

The right to freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of thought for the West Papuan people must be protected. To ensure the West Papuan people their right to self-determination, we must put an end to the repression and racial politics practiced by the Indonesian military and police against the people of West Papua.

The above memorandum is endorsed by:

1. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
2. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT) 
3. Pemuda PSM
4. Comunity Development Centre (CDC)
5. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
6. Amateur
7. Seksualiti Merdeka
8. Justice for Sisters
9. Transmen of Malaysia
11. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor
12. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
14. Malaysia Treatment Access Advocacy Group+
15. Tindak Malaysia
16. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
17. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
18. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
19. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
20. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
21. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
22. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
23. Tenaganita
24. Sisters In Islam
25. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
26. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiwa Independen
27. Civil Rights Committee of KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
28. Malaysian Students and Youth Movement (DEMA)
29. Ikatan Anak Tawau
30. Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma (GMPP)
31. Socialist Alliance, Australia
32. Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), Indonesia
33. People’s Liberation Party (PPR), Indonesia
34. Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua
35. Partido Las ng Masa (PLM), Philippines
36. Partido Manggagawa, Philippines