The West Papuan separatism activists found themselves busy and their hands full once again, when last month (October 2018) they claimed to have submitted the previously discarded petition from the United Nations, to the British Foreign Office. The Foreign Office is the frontier of United Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Slim Chance for ULMWP

There is an apparent mismatch between the interest of West Papuan separatist group and the actual mandate of British Foreign Office. According to their official website, the mandate is as follows:

  • Safeguarding the UK’s national security by countering terrorism and weapons proliferation, and working to reduce conflict.
  • Building the UK’s prosperity by increasing exports and investment, opening markets, ensuring access to resources, and promoting sustainable global growth.
  • Supporting British nationals around the world through modern and efficient consular services.

It is safe to conclude that the petition for West Papuan independence (or ‘Self-Determination’, by the words of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua-ULMWP) is not only mismatching the mission of British Foreign Office, but indeed opposing the cause of British international politics.

The submission of the petition The British Minister of State for Asia and Pacific, Mark Field, and The British Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, came from the incumbent conservative party. Both are conservatives who recognize and respect the full sovereignty of Indonesia over its two provinces, Papua and West Papua. The chance of separatist group gets slimmer as Wenda has been anything but successful in diplomatic manoeuvre. Wenda’s tactics relies on the influence of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour Party, opposition towards the incumbent government.

Global commonwealth network as the UK and commonwealth states are interdependent. From a strategic political point of view, there is no responsibility nor interest for the British government to backstab the United Nations, or Indonesia.

Pushing the Wrong Issue

Since the start of human rights investigation by Joko Widodo administration (Indonesia current president), the international society are actually focused on more pressing issues than West Papuan independence. There are some parties, like the British Tory (led by Jeremy Corbyn) or the green parties in Australia and New Zealand (led by Catherine Delahunty) who took this issue as an opportunity in creating positive public image, but they are clearly in the minority.

In the principles of international relations, the international system works within two known frameworks. The first one is “cooperation”, and the second is “power”. The Free West Papua movement operates by the same rules, without exception. For a long while, the separatism supporters around the world have always talked about human rights issue, and rightfully so. Human rights is one thing, but that is not the main thing demanded by the Free West Papua .

They demand power over strategic economic resources, and they demand for other countries in the world to openly accept that they are going to use force to seize assets of national and multinational companies currently running business in Papua, only to establish diplomatic relations (hence ‘cooperation’) after that. The international society cannot let anyone do everything as they please, and as countries find the demand from ULMWP unacceptable, they will quit entertaining the particular separatist group.

Past Rejection from The United Nations

We still remember the moment when Benny Wenda, the Papuan pro-independence leader, stated that he carried a hefty compendium, which he said bore signatures of 1.8 million West Papuans demanding an internationally supervised vote on their independence, as many as they reported in 2017. It seeks West Papua’s reinscription to the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, whom Mr. Wenda said he gave notice of the petition to.

However, this was subsequently refuted by the Chair of the Decolonisation Committee, Rafael Ramírez. “West Papua is not (included) on the (committee) agenda, first of all. Secondly, in my capacity as a Chair of the C24, I have not received anything from any petitioner, (so) that (Benny Wenda’s statement) is not true. I’m a little bit concerned because some people are trying to use me for propaganda,” Rafael Ramirez said to the media, back then.

Bearing in mind that the UK is a prominent force in the United Nations, especially as a permanent member of Security Council with veto power, it is highly unlikely that the British government would bat an eye on the petition, risking to contradict the stance of United Nations itself.

The Damned Result of Violent Separatism

From human rights perspective, the ‘independence’ of west Papua itself is a very problematic, utopian concept to say the least. The Free West Papua movement right now, assuming the feasibility to count them responsible of many deaths of civilians, would have a substantial amount of human rights violations already, waiting for a long process of investigation and prosecution. As an example, in 2018 alone, the military wing of Free West Papua/ULMWP has taken the toll on 40 victims, most of them are Papuan civilians. The usage of violence in order to gain political position makes them a perpetrator of human rights abuse.

In Kenyam (June 6, 2018), separatist groups opened fire on Trigana Air aircraft carrying Brimob (Mobile Brigades) troops. The group did not stop there; they also killed three civilians who were around Kenayam Airport, Nduga Regency, West Papua. These three victims not only received gunshot wounds but also stab wounds. Something that is missed from international media that cover West Papuan news. Five TNI members who were patrolling were shot at by the Armed Criminal Group on May 16, 2018, between Kampung Sinak and Kampung Tirineri. Between June and August, eight people were killed. The most well-known case occurred earlier this year in April, when a group of armed people took hostage of 13 teachers and held them for two weeks.

It is rather difficult to believe that Indonesia, and the rest of the world, will let go of these crimes unpunished. Moreover, the military wing of Free West Papua/ULMWP (named TPNPB/OPM) shall also be held responsible for the death of many native Papuans, whom they thought were in their way of achieving their goals. In any case, if the petition for independence is somehow going to take place in any international forum, human rights violations committed by the TPNPB/OPM will be the very first agenda of discussion.

In the end, it is clear that Free West Papua movement use violence and play victim on the international. Being put in a difficult situation, Indonesia is forced to defend itself against OPM/Free West Papua, an organized guerilla warfare based on fear and terror. Meanwhile, the Free West Papua supporters are demanding the Indonesian government to manage the usage of ‘violence’, or may we call it law enforcement, to the minimum. The pressure on Indonesian government and security apparatus is unimaginable, since the secessionist separatists are using democracy and human rights abuse allegations to assume the position of a victim, and create a defense mechanism out of it.

Against violent terrorism, Indonesia has to stand strong. In front of human rights cases, Indonesia must stand corrected.


https://unpo .org/article/21246 .uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office/about
https://www.huffingtonpost. com/muhammad-zulfikar-rakhmat/why-the-uks-secrecy-benny-wanda_b_9250772.html
https://www.kompasiana. com/eko-subur/5.52fb7e46ea834dd248b4580/ipwp-acuh-saja-meskipun-pnwp-dan-knpb-demo-di-papua-barat
bennywenda .org
https://pesd.princeton. edu/ ?q=node/258