Press Release Indonesian Embassy in London
London, 17 July 2019. The Indonesian government strongly condemns the decision by the Oxford City Council (OCC) to grant the Oxford Freedom of the City Award to Benny Wenda on July 17, 2019.
The Embassy believes that the award was given to a wrong individual. In fact, the person is the perpetrator and condones the use of violence in achieving his political goal. The Embassy is puzzled to note that the basis for this award is his recognition as a “peaceful campaigner for democracy” despite strong evidence linking the individual to various violent armed groups in Papua.
The Embassy further states that the conferment of the award will in turn provide more legitimacy to the person and his group to step up armed violence against civilians and government officials whose task are to maintain the continuity of economic, social and cultural development in Papua.
The Indonesian government notes the firm statement made by the British Government in support of Indonesia’s sovereignty and that the conferment of the award does not represent the position of the British Government. Further, the Indonesian government acknowledges the United Kingdom’s continued respect towards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia, and its recognition of Papua as an integral part of Indonesia. Indonesia is firmly against separatist’s movement and will continue to uphold our territorial integrity.
The conferment of the award to the person with criminal records and ties to armed separatist movement demonstrates the Oxford City Council’s lack of knowledge of the person’s credibility as well as the progress and development that is currently ongoing in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The Oxford City Council once again hurts the feelings of the Indonesian people. The award to the person is a continuation of the Council’s support to the Papuan independent movement having permitted the opening of the Free West Papua Campaign headquarters in Oxford in 2013. The granting of such award undermines the credibility of the City of Oxford, as one of the leading education centres in the world.
The Indonesian Embassy in London believes that the conferment of the award could create unnecessary obstacles to our efforts in increasing Indonesia – UK cooperation, including with the City of Oxford, especially at the time when two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relation.
Embassy of Indonesia in London, 17 July 2019