The provincial breakaway movement appoints the exiled leader as interim president as conflict-ridden Indonesian region marks Independence Day
West Papuan leaders have declared a provisional « waiting government » in the disputed Indonesian province as the United Nations said it has been « disturbed by escalating violence, » including the murder of a child allegedly killed by security forces.
The province marks Independence Day on Jan.. December, the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961 and the raising of the now banned flag of the morning star.
The Indonesian military took control of the province in 1962 and has since faced a fierce separatist struggle.
The independence movement, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), has drawn up a new constitution and appointed the exile leader Benny Wenda as interim president.
« Today we honor and recognize all of our ancestors who fought and died for us by finally establishing a unified waiting government, » said Wenda, who is based in the UK.
“We embody the spirit of the people of West Papua and are ready to rule our country.
“As stated in our interim constitution, a future republic of West Papua will be the world’s first green state and a beacon of human rights – the opposite of decades of bloody Indonesian colonization. Today we are taking another step towards our dream of a free, independent and liberated West Papua. ”
Before the 1st. December, which often led to significant unrest and acts of violence, the UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said: “We are concerned by the escalating violence in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua and the increased risk of renewal in recent weeks and months Tension and violence. ”
Shamdasani said in an incident on Jan.. November, a 17-year-old was shot dead and another teenager was injured in an alleged police shootout. The boy’s body was found on Mount Limbaga in the Gome District of West Papua.
She also cited the murder of Church pastor Yeremia Zanambani, whose body was found near his bullet and stab wounds-riddled home in Hitadipa district. Zanambani « may have been killed by members of the security forces, » Shamdasani said.
“In September and October 2020 there was a worrying series of murders of at least six people, including activists and community workers and non-indigenous people. At least two members of the security forces were also killed in clashes. ”
The people living in the provinces are Melanesians, ethnically different from the rest of Indonesia and more closely related to the people of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.
The Dutch colony of Papua was militarily annexed by Indonesia until 1961 and officially incorporated into the Indonesian Republic after a United Nations-supported referendum in 1969, the law of free choice. However, the vote was widely condemned as fraudulent. A little more than 1. 000 selected Papuans were forced to vote in support of Indonesian rule, some of which were threatened with violence.
Indonesia regards Papua and West Papua as integral and indivisible parts of the Indonesian state and has consistently declared that it is working on the development of the region.
Papua and West Papua are rich in natural resources – Papua’s Grass Mountain is one of the largest gold mines in the world – but are among the least developed provinces in Indonesia with endemic poverty and high levels of child malnutrition.
Jakarta is currently trying to expand the « special autonomy » provisions first introduced in West Papua in 2001 to allegedly give Papuans a greater share of the revenues from their rich natural resources and greater political autonomy. These provisions expire at the end of the year.
Protesters for independence say the special autonomy law is being used to suppress Papua’s independence movement and are calling for a referendum on secession from Indonesia.
West Papua, New Guinea
World News – AU – Independence leaders in West Papua declare « government waiting »
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