The Liberation of West Papua issue is currently the most interesting issue to be covered by the media of Australia, Asia Pacific, and New Zealand. Various attempts have been made by the said liberation movement to get the international media attention.
If you follow the news about West Papua issue, you will probably still remember 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 had 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.
Mr Ramírez also says that the committee accepts Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua, which took control of the western half of New Guinea in 1969.
Responding to this, Indonesia’s UN representative, Triansyah Djani, who sits on the committee, called Mr. Wenda’s petition a hoax and separatist propaganda.
There is a tendency for the ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua) to seek popularity in the media by utilizing sacred moments such as the UN Session.
Making Petition to Gain Popularity in the Media
One of the Papuan pro-independence leader, Leonie Tanggahma, criticized ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua) action. Leonie had been widely known as the member of ULMWP implementing agency for three years.
Leoni Tanggahma has even criticized the way ULMWP carried out the petition to get attention. He said that what happened to the petition after leaving West Papua was a big parody.
A “petition” is not the right UN mechanism for c-24 when a region is NOT included in the C-24 list. C-24 or Committee 24 is the UN committee for Decolonisation and West Papua is not included in the list. At the international level, the so-called West Papuan People’s Petition and those who promote it have actually tarnished their own name.
Leoni was concerned that ULMWP chose to adopt West Papua People’s Petition as their main lobbying tool for the movement.
According to Leoni’s explanation, the first reason is that a petition such as West Papua People’s Petition, despite having a great symbolic and emotional significance, could not be submitted to UN Decolonisation Committee. The petition is also not a part of UN mechanism that regulates activities inside the Committee.
The UN mechanism varies from one UN agency to another, this is also the case for the UN Decolonisation Committee. In the context of C-24, there is indeed a well-established petition mechanism, However, the “applicant” in this mechanism should be and individual or a civil society organization that has been discussing in the C-24 annual session concerning Non-Self-Governing Territories whose existence is stipulated in the Declaration of Granted Independence to colonized countries and nations. These countries are: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Malvinas (Falkland Islands), French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, kanaly (New Caledonia), Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turkey, Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and Western Sahara.
These nations are the “Petitioners” by the C-24. Petitioners should handle issues relating to 17 non-self governing territories, and only 17 of them. West Papua is NOT included in these regions. C-24 also has no authority to put a new name in the list. The committee job is to deal with the listed only.
Unfortunately, there is possibility that those who said have given this petition to the C-24 thought that by only giving the petition to C-24 then West Papua can be included in the Committee’s agenda. However, this will not happen. They can’t accept this fact. Most Papuans who signed for this petition were made to believe that C-24 will accept West Papua into the list.
Both in Geneva and in New York, several of Leoni’s former colleagues at ULMWP have reported that the West Papua People’s Petition had been SUBMITTED to the UN. However, the Chairman of C-24 had expressly denied of receiving any petition AS THE CHAIRMAN OF C-24. Please read this carefully:
“…AS THE CHAIRMAN OF C-24.”
He said that he had never received such of petition as THE CHAIRMAN OF C-24. In other words, he might have received THAT PETITION but he probably accepted it in his capacity as a person, an individual who is willing to the colonized, like the Papuans. He did not receive the petition as the Chairman of C-24. There is very unlikely that this petition had been formally submitted to the UN, as claimed in various media. The Chairman of C-24 had also condemned the people behind this action as “trying to use [him] as propaganda for something that is not true.”
After it left West Papua, the petition landed in the hands of the people who took picture with it, who went to the media with it, who got publicity because of it, who gained popularity because of it. Once the West Papua People’s Petition left the homeland, it was basically got abused at the expense of thousands people who signed it.
Leoni’s writings published on berita-papua.com have shown that ULMWP and other separatist groups will do anything to get media attention in important moments such as UN Session.
Then, how about the UN Session in 2018? What kind of narrative that ULMWP build for the media this year? However, it is already certain that in the last three weeks, there have been many reports about ULMWP and Vanuatu are trying to get the support from Asia Pacific, Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific countries regarding the liberation movement. Previously, Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea have firmly rejected Vanuatu’s invitation to intervene in the sovereignty and domestic matter of another country.