KNPB to continue to press for a referendum – plus comment

KNPB will continue to press for Referendum

Bintang Papua, 30 September 2010

Jayapura: The spokesman  of the Komite Nasional Papua Barat – National Committee of West Papua, Mako Tabuni, speaking at a press conference, said that political dynamics were moving fast at present at a time when calls for a referendum are spreading throughout  Papua. In a democracy, this is an issue that must be accepted by the Indonesian state and the Indonesian people, together with the Papuan people.

The KNPB, as a national medium of the views of the Papuan people will continue to press for a referendum as the final solution to resolve the political status of West Papua, because this can resolve all the problems in Papua and it represents the best possible solution for the Papuan people. Without a referendum, the Papuan people’s problems will never be resolved.

He said that since Indonesia calls itself a democratic state based on the Pancasila, it can surely understand why the Papuan people are calling for a referendum. Many human rights abuses have been committed in the past and have persisted for 48 years, during which time the military forces have directly or indirectly caused great suffering for the Papuan people.

With the issue of a referendum having become so heated, the KNPB will continue to struggle for this demand.

With regard to the hearing held recently (in Washington)  which was attended by a number of Papuan leaders, including the chairman of DAP, Forkorus Yoboisembu, Herman Awom and others,  nothing has been forthcoming from the US suggesting that it does not support a referendum.

Mako Tabuni said that he is still awaiting reports about the activities of Papuans such as Nicolas Messet and Albert Yoku who were also present at the congressional hearing, nor has there been any official report regarding the results of the hearings. [Note: Verbatim reports of all the discussion have been widely circulated.]

Regarding telephone communications that have been reported by irresponsible elements that have been reported by the media in Jayapura to the effect that the issue of referendum has been rejected, these are quite untrue and provocative, because there has been no official announcement from the US Congress to the effect that a referendum is unacceptable.

Even if that were the case, the KNPB and the  Papuan people will continue to struggle for their political demand because this is their right, and it is a matter that cannot be determined by the Indonesian elite.

[Comment:  If the KNBP says that it is waiting for the decision of the US Congress in response to the call for a referendum, this reflects a misunderstanding of how the US congressional hearing mechanism works. The hearing was itself an unprecedented event, the first time that a US congressional body held a public discussion on the question of West Papua. The verbatim reports of the hearing, including all the testimonies and the discussions between the chairman of the Asia-Pacific sub-committee and members of the audience have been widely circulated, as well as the views of the US government. Everything is in the public domain. The US Congress itself cannot be expected to make a statement on an issue that was discussed by one of its sub-committees.

It now depends on organisations like the KNPB which support the call for a referendum in West Papua to translate these documents into Indonesian so that they become widely known in West Papua and Indonesia. By doing this, they can strengthen support for a referendum in Indonesia and internationally while at the same time revealing the strength of feeling about the issue to the Indonesian government. Arguably, the sudden decision of the SBY government to dispatch a large team of ministers to West Papua for the purposes of making an  ‘evaluation’ is a sign that the government is beginning to understand the strength of feeling and support for the West Papuan people’s demand.  TAPOL]