Free West Papua

Submitted by AWL on 10 April, 2019 - 9:16 Author: Bill Davies
free west papua

On 5 April, a small but lively protest assembled opposite the Indonesian Embassy in London to object to the brutal military occupation of West Papua by Indonesia. West Papua is the western half of the island whose eastern half is Papua New Guinea, an independent state.

The Free West Papua Campaign which organised the protest, coinciding with other protests on the same date in the Netherlands and Australia, is calling for solidarity with a West Papuan boycott of the Indonesian presidential and assembly elections that will take place on 17 April.

Although it has controlled the territory since 1945, Indonesia formally annexed West Papua in August 1969 after it forced and manipulated an unrepresentative "vote" of 1,022 handpicked West Papuans in favour of Indonesian control, misleadingly called the "Act of Free Choice".

In January of this year, a petition of 1.8 million people - effectively representing, according to the organisers, 70% of the population of West Papua - demanding the right to self-determination was presented by the West Papuan leadership to the United Nations. The petition calls for an internationally supervised referendum.

Yet the left, which should stand with oppressed people around the world, was absent on the 5 April protest, as it was largely absent on the 5 February protest outside the Chinese Embassy in solidarity with the Uyghurs.

All oppressed people are entitled to justice, and the left should apply this principle consistently.

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