Boycott the Indonesian elections and Rally for Referendum!

March 26, 2019

This statement was released by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua on 26 March 2019 (see the original statement):

As the representative body of the West Papuan people and all West Papuan groups, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) formally declares a boycott of the Indonesian presidential and general elections on April 17, 2019. As ULMWP Chairman, I urge all West Papuans and all those sympathetic with the West Papuan cause to boycott the April elections. We don’t want a new Indonesian colonial ruler – we want our freedom.

We have tried participating in the elections of the colonial master before – but we are still killed, tortured and discriminated against every day. Instead of playing the games of the imperialist, the ULMWP declares April 5, 2019 a global day of action for West Papua: the Rally for Referendum.

As we continue to mourn the Nduga crisis and flooding in Sentani, I urge all my people across West Papua to join hand-in-hand and gather together in the spirit of unity for this effort. Together, we will stand united for our common cause of self-determination and affirm that an independence referendum is the only solution for West Papua. Across the world, wherever there are West Papua support groups, I urge everyone to join in solidarity and rally for our right to a referendum on April 5.

April 5 marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Nieuw Guinea Raad (the West Papua National Parliament). On April 5, 1961, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the international community formally recognised our sovereignty, right to self-determination and democracy.

It is with hope and pride that we West Papuans remember when our National Parliament was launched. Six months later, on October 19, our elected and representative leaders told the world that:

We, Papuans, demand our own position, equal to that of the free nations and in the ranks of these nations we, Papuans, wish to live in peace and to contribute to the maintenance of world peace.

We are filled with joy when we remember these words, yet we are filled with sadness when we remember that only two years later, our country was invaded by Indonesia. We West Papuans cannot and will not take part in the elections of an occupying power. We will always resist attempts by the Indonesian government to colonise West Papua.

This year marks a much more significant event for the people of West Papua than any Indonesian election: the 50th anniversary of the so-called Act of Free Choice.

This fake Act marked the process of Indonesia’s illegal occupation of West Papua. This Act, promised to us by the United Nations as an act of self-determination for all West Papuans, involved just 1,022 hand-picked people, who were forced under threats of death to declare their support for Indonesian rule. The Act was not a genuine act of self-determination – it was the complete opposite. Indonesia’s continued occupation of West Papua is fraudulent.

In 2017, my people already voted. 1.8 million of us signed, by hand, the historic West Papuan People’s Petition calling for a referendum on independence, an act of self-determination. This is the real vote of the West Papuan people, not the forced word of 1,022 people fifty years ago.

These elections are not for the Papuan people – they are for Indonesia. I’m calling on all of my people, whether rich or poor, civil servant or worker, military or civilian, from village or city, to peacefully boycott the Indonesian elections on April 17. We know what we want – our freedom. I call on you all to prepare for an inevitable referendum on independence and intensify the struggle against the Indonesian occupation. We respect Indonesia’s right to hold elections in its own territory, but we will oppose the elections of the coloniser when they are forced upon us.

On this year, the 50th anniversary of the illegal occupation of West Papua, with Papuans still suffering flooding in Sentani, let the global Rally for Referendum be a catalyst for the West Papuan struggle, to unite all groups and individuals around the world for the common cause of a referendum. Let us come together in unity, for peace, for justice and for a free West Papua.

May God bless you all.

Benny Wenda