Fifty Parliamentarians urge British Government to act on Chemical Weapons in West Papua

March 27, 2019

In a letter to Mark Field MP, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, fifty Parliamentarians – including 41 MPs and 9 Lords – have asked the British Government to request the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate reports of chemical weapons use (white phosphorous) by the Indonesian military in West Papua. The letter comes from Alex Sobel MP who is the Chair of the All Party Group on West Papua.

There is photographic evidence, witness testimony and journalist reporting that on 15 December 2018 in the Nduga Regency of West Papua, the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) used burn-causing weapons – possibly white phosphorus – on West Papuan civilians. The use occurred in the context of ongoing Indonesian military and police operations in the region. Indonesia has signed and ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and their Destruction. Signatories are banned from the use and stockpiling of chemical weapons.

The letter to the Minister of State at the Foreign Office was written by Alex Sobel MP (14 March 2019). He wrote:

“The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must be urged to investigate the issue as an international priority. We request that you immediately send an official request to the OPCW asking the organisation to verify the incident and investigate the suspected breach of Indonesia’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

“The use of chemical weapons is a matter of great international concern. When such weapons were deployed in Syria, the world rose in horrified unison. When such weapons have been used in West Paupa, few have taken note. The United Kingdom must take the lead internationally on this issue.”

Alex Sobel MP has also tabled Early Day Motion #2074 about West Papua and chemical weapons.

Signatories to the Parliamentary letter

The following parliamentarians signed the letter of 14 March 2019 about chemical weapons and West Papua.

Members of Parliament (MPs) Alan Brown, Ann Clwyd, Anna McMorrin, Anneliese Dodds, Ben Lake, Bob Stewart, Catherine West, Chris Stephens, Darren Jones, David Drew, Dennis Skinner, Diana Johnson, Ged Kilen, George Howarth, Grahame Morris, Janet Daby, Jim Cunningham, Jim Shannon, John Howell, John McNally, Jon Cruddas, Jonathan Edwards, Kelvin Hopkins, Kerry McCarthy, Lloyd Russell Moyle, Liz Savile Roberts, Maries Rimmer, Martin Whitfiled, Martyn Day, Mary Glindon, Mike Hill, Patrick Grady, Paul Sweeney, Paul Williams, Roger Godsiff, Ronnie Campbell, Rose Duffield, Sir Peter Bottomley, Stephen Doughty, Valerie Vaz

Lords Richard Harries, Baroness Burtersett,,Baron Thomas of Gresford, Countess of Mar Margaret Mar, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Lord Mckenzie of Framwellgate, Lord Warner of Brockley,