Benny Wenda Urges Jokowi to Hold Referendum for West Papua



Laila Afifa

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  • West Papua separatist leader Benny Wenda (left). []

    West Papua separatist leader Benny Wenda (left). []

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaBenny Wenda, leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), demanded President Joko Widodo or Jokowi and Coordinating Minister of Politics, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto hold a referendum for West Papua as an effort to settle the current conflict.

    “Thousands of West Papuans are rising to fight for an independence referendum,” said Benny in a written statement, Thursday, September 5.

    According to Benny, the escalating conflict in the easternmost province of Indonesia is not necessarily about racism, but injustice. He said Indonesia illegally occupies West Papua because based on the 1962 New York Agreement, West Papuans are promised to have an independence referendum.

    The agreement was initiated by the United States to allow Indonesian occupation and administration of the region from the Netherlands. This agreement was backed by Indonesia’s efforts to seize West Papua from the Netherlands.

    Noted in the agreement, the referendum process is considered legal should the one man, one vote scheme is taken place. By means, every Papuan has the right to decide its future.

    Benny said West Papuans have never had the rights mentioned in the agreement to date.

    “For 57 years, we fight for our rights to decide our own fate. Our right to decide our future,” he underlined.

    Other than a referendum, Benny Wenda urged authorities to release the ULMWP’s head of politics Bazoka Logo, spokesman of Front Rakyat Indonesia for West Papua Surya Anta, and all arrested Papuans. He also demanded the government revoke Veronica Koman’s status as a suspect.