Imparsial: Only a state can challenge the Act of Free Choice

Benny Wenda at the IPWP launch
Image via Wikipedia

>Bintang Papua, 10 August 2011
[A very lengthy report, abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Only a state can challenge the Act of Free Choice

Jayapura: Although no official report has yet been received about the
results of the International Laywers for West Papua conference in Oxford
on 2 August with regard to challenging the 1969 Act of Free Choice
(pepera) at the International Court of Justice, Imparsial-Jakarta says
that a challenge can only be successful if it is made by a state, not
by an organisation like ILWP.

Poengki Indarti, the executive director of Imparsial, an organisation
that frequently draws attention to the activities of the Indonesian
military in West Papua as well as to the human rights situation there,
said that the ILWP is not a state and furthermore, pepera was
legitimised by the United Nations while virtually all countries
recognise that West Papua is part of NKRI, the Unitary State of the
Republic of Indonesia.

She said that what Benny Wenda is trying to do via the ILWP and the
IPWP is to win as much support as possible from countries around the
world which show an interest in West Papua’s secession from Indonesia.
However, this is very difficult indeed because all countries with the
exception of Vanuatu support the incorporation of West Papua into
Indonesia. ‘What they are trying to do is get the support of some
hopefully sympathetic states. I dont think people should overact to the
decisions adopted by the ILWP conference,’ she said.

However, Yan Christian Warinussy, executive director of Papua-based
human rights NGO, LP3BH, said that any challenge with regard to ‘legal
standing’ would depend on the interpretation of the judge before whom
the case is brought. He said: ‘As regards any efforts to challenge
pepera that may be made by the ILWP, anyone and in particular the
Papuan people could submit a challenge because it relates to their
rights as Papuans . If in the opinion of the judge before whom the case
is brought, an organisation such as the ILWP has been granted the
necessary powers by the Papuan people, the case can of course be
accepted.’ He went on to say that it would be much more strategic for
the challenge to be made first of all at the national level because
Indonesia has its own legal system and it is not certain that a
decision would be adopted by the International Court in a case
connected with a sovereign state like Indonesia.

‘Therefore, I would press for the challenge to be made within the
Indonesian legal system which could be done by the Papuan Customary
Council (Dewan Adat Papua) or another organisation that has been granted
the necessary powers,’ said Warinussy who received the John Humphrey
human rights award in 2005.

The Imparsial director-general said that she thinks that all
stakeholders in Papua should focus primarily on peaceful endeavours and
dialogue to find a ‘middle way’. If everyone sticks to their own
opinion, the ones whose interests are damaged are the Papuan people who
do not have a very good understanding of political affairs. (sic).
Meanwhile, she drew attention to the long drawn out Papuan problem with
many actions being taken about the unsatisfactory implementation of
OTSUS (the special autonomy law), many acts of violence that have
resulted in civilian lives being lost, as well as actions calling for
independence, all of which point to the lack any serious attention from
the central and provincial governments. She said that the Indonesian
government is half-hearted about Papua and seems to want conditions in
Papua to stay the same as they are now. ‘We all hope to see the
government pay serious attention to Papua.’ She said it seems as though
the government just wants to keep the conflict in Papua going. It shows
no interest in enacting regulations or laws and seems to be acting at
cross purposes, with the government frequently pursuing the repressive
approach while the military have said that that they have made drastic
changes in the way they handle Papua. However, people feel that the
situation is no different from what it was in the past.

‘In the many cases of violence, it is the task of the police to
investigate who was responsible but nothing concrete has happened, while
Papuans are asking whether it was the real OPM or a fictional OPM that
certain state institutions are keeping alive. Everyone is looking to
the government to explain things because as yet the Papuan question
has not been resolved whereas the government is not serious about
solving it.

A case in point is what Benny Wenda is doing in the UK. Although Poengky
Indarti has checked the Interpol list of fugitives and saw that he is a
fugitive registered with Interpol, he is nevertheless free to seek
support overseas while no action is taken against him either by the
Indonesian government or the Indonesian police. The government is
deliberately keeping the Papuan problem hanging in the air, from the
polemics about the failure of OTSUS, to the breaches of security and the
shooting incidents as well as the calls for independence that have
caused much anxiety among the civilian population, whereas the
government still doesnt regard Papua as a problem that is in need of

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