It is very disappointing for us, Papuans, when the struggle for Free Papua and human rights, which has been brought up by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) and any organization that carries the umbrella of the Free Papua Organization (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM), did not get attention on the 2018 General Assembly of the United Nations.

Free Papua activists abroad and domestic, political scholars, and political observers of Papua have previously stated that this year’s General Assembly of the UN agenda will include the Papuan struggle. They expected that there would be a serious debate between the Papuans in the Indonesian delegation and the Papuans in the Vanuatu delegation. The talk of these people only gives false hopes to other Papuans.

Why? The 39th Human Rights Session led by the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations, Michelle Bachelet, took place peacefully; almost too quiet. Cross-debates and arguments between UN member countries that were expected to gain a lot of attention did not happen. The problem of the Free Papua struggle and human rights violations campaigned by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were also not included in the General Assembly agenda.

The UN General Assembly is the highest international conference held annually from September to October. This assembly presents all UN members. Unfortunately, at the session led by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, there was no Papuan name in the introductory speech and discussion of the assembly agenda; let alone a mention on the problem of human rights violations that have occurred in Papua. Whereas many issues are categorized as Serious Crimes against Humanity in the Wasior, Biak Berdarah, Paniai/Enarotali, and others; there have even been petitions signed by more than one and a half million Papuans.

Serious questions arise. Where are the Papuan issues that have been raised by ULMWP and other OPM? As a result of these issues, there have been many repressive actions, arrests, imprisonment in Papua. Are they wrong in addressing the problem? Alternatively, haven’t they deliver the issues to the UN forum? Has this Papuan struggle issue become a political commodity to raise funds for certain groups at home and abroad?

For those of us who live in Papua, is independence just an illusion that arises from limitations, the pressure of being disadvantaged, which then drives the desire for freedom to live life? Is it true that we miss Papua that is physically independent, standing in the form of its own country? Do we scream because of our limited knowledge and ability to penetrate the political wall, which has long left the issue of independence, and instead prioritizes problems that affect peace, security, and the welfare of humanity? This event is very disappointing and tiring.

Why is there always a rumor every year that the General Assembly of the UN and the Human Rights Session led by High Commissioner herself will include the Papuan problem? It was very disappointing, the human rights problems and the desires of freedom the Papuans experienced did not receive attention in the General Assembly. Even though High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has mentioned some names of nations and regions in the world that need special attention from the United Nations because of severe human rights violations. In the list, the name of Indonesia is not even registered.

Isn’t this problem severe? We should question where the Papuan human rights issues have gone, as well as Papuan independence demands. These two things should have been conveyed by those who fought on behalf of the OPM such as ULMWP, Kobe Oser, Herman Wanggai as representatives of Papua at the UN, Ben Kaisiepo who called himself the Melanesian West Papua President and has an office at the United Nations. Where are these issues delivered? In the quiet General Assembly, there was not even a single Papua name called; especially the issue of Free Papua.

The answer to the problem of no mention of the Free Papua issue in the General Assembly on the UN is fundamental; a chronological explanation is needed so that the question becomes clear. All processes and procedures that apply in the General Assembly comply with international protocol procedures. The official UN standard procedure stated that the General Assembly participants are representatives of UN member states, and participants from the country’s delegation must be registered to join the forum. Each member country has the rights to speak on the floor and rights to reply whose primary condition is not to criticize and interfere with the sovereignty of each state.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), World Church Communities, OPM, ULMWP, various organizations, and individual representatives cannot convey the Free Papua problem and the human rights violations that follow it because Papua is not a sovereign state. The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is the only sovereign country and a member of the United Nations that has the right to communicate the problem of Papua, not Vanuatu, which has always raised its voice.

Vanuatu has used the right to speak on the floor to carry its crucial and challenging domestic problems, their views on the handling of the global crisis, and their commitment to world peace; Free Papua issues only briefly conveyed without debate motions or voting. The absence of debate was because the General Assembly protocol system only allows Indonesia to use its right to reply to Vanuatu’s statement regarding Papua.

Vanuatu used its second right to reply to reiterate human rights violations in Papua and repeat its demands to Indonesia. They asked Indonesia to immediately stop the abuses and appeal for international support to urge Indonesia to open an investigation into the alleged human rights violations. Vanuatu also expressed its opinion on the status of Papua to be included in the list of colonization areas according to UN rules.

At the 2018 General Assembly of the UN, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed Indonesia’s commitment, in its capacity as a Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, to provide more than 4000 peace army personnel. Other UN member states delegations warmly welcomed this speech.

Indonesia’s first right to reply was then delivered by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations Dian Triansyah Djani. In his discourse, Djani said that Vanuatu’s speech had violated the principles and international law adopted by the United Nations, and spread global hatred for Indonesia. Vanuatu’s violation was by interfering in Indonesian sovereignty. Vanuatu believes false news campaigned by a handful of Papuans and NGOs; news that says that there is a murder in Papua every day.

In Indonesia’s second right to reply, Djani told the General Assembly and the Vanuatu delegation about the real conditions in Papua, Indonesia’s commitment to continue to develop its two eastern provinces, meet the basic needs of Papuans, improve health services and education. All of this corresponds to the eight Millennium Goals set by the United Nations.

It turns out that there are not a thousand roads to Rome, nor is there a thousand roads to the General Assembly of the UN. There are only international protocol systems and procedures agreed upon by UN member states. This system has been adopted in a UN resolution which states that those who have the right to attend the General Assembly are representatives of the sovereign member states of the United Nations.

Let the real world work according to the applicable rules. We don’t need to believe in the illusion and fantasy of cyberspace. We don’t need to believe in messianic movements that try to fool us. It is as if God can be regulated by us, the Indonesian people, especially the Papuans.

Let us strive for our rights in the official corridors of national and international politics, which are recognized by the constitutional system, through the regular legal channels. The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia guarantees all legal actions according to international law and human rights.

I hope this writing can provide readers with the knowledge to realize that the Papuan struggle is not as easy as turning the palm. Free Papua is closely related to all international legal processes, procedures, and laws that have been adopted jointly by all UN member states. In Free Papua’s political endeavor, there is a significant obstacle, which is the Resolution 2505 concerning the Integration of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia. After passing through this hindrance, the rest is our attempt to turn the vast ocean into fresh water.

Papuan Socio-Political Observer

Norotouw, John AL. (2018, October 09). Sesi HAM ke-39 pada Sidang Umum PBB Nyaris Sepi. Retrieved from Cenderawasih Pos.