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West Papua - action needed!
18 Nov 1999
ACTION NEEDED ON WEST PAPUA'S "ACT FREE OF CHOICE"
The Pacific Campaigns Resource Centre (PCRC) has called on the United Nations to review Indonesia's takeover of West Papua (Irian Jaya) through the fraudulent Act of Free Choice.
"With the August referendum in East Timor, and discussion of a referendum on the political status of Aceh, it is time for the international community to review the 1969 Act of Free Choice in West Papua. The people of West Papua - the western half of the island of New Guinea - have never had a real referendum on self-determination," according to Lopeti Senituli, the Director of the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) in Suva. Fiji.
19 November 1999 is the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly resolution 2504 (XXIV) on West Papua. On that day, the UN General Assembly took note of the report of UN Special Rapporteur Ortiz Sanz about the so-called "Act of Free Choice" in West Papua. Despite Mr. Sanz's reservations about the conduct of the vote, West Papua was removed from the list of non-self-governing territories with the UN Decolonisation Committee.
The 1969 Act of Free Choice confirmed Indonesia's takeover of West Papua, and the territory's incorporation into the Indonesian Republic as the Province of Irian Jaya. The referendum was deeply compromised, and cannot be regarded as a true act of self-determination:
* Only 1,025 representatives, selected by Indonesia from a population of 800,000, were allowed to vote (and the UN monitoring team only witnessed 195 of these votes)
. * No West Papuan women were allowed to vote in the referendum.
* UN Special Rapporteur Ortiz Sanz's report pointed out serious breaches of legality by the Indonesian authorities, which compromised the legitimacy of the referendum (including imprisonment without trial of opponents, military threats against those who might vote for independence, and attacks on political leaders causing the flight of refugees to Australian-controlled Papua and New Guinea).
* Indonesia's armed forces put down a rebellion in the West Papuan highlands before the arrival of the UN monitoring team.
"Today, the West Papuan people are calling for independence from Indonesia," Senituli added. "There have been many protests against Indonesia's recent division of the province into three administrative units. The Morning Star flag has been raised in many towns, and West Papuans are calling for support from the international community - especially from their neighbours in the South Pacific."
PCRC is the secretariat for the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement, with members in 30 countries around the Pacific islands and Pacific Rim. PCRC has Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Index page on West Papua