Ahmad Jilul Qurani Farid, Jakarta – The House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I has asked Foreign Affairs Minister (Menlu) Retno Marsudi to prevent the internationalisation of the Papua issue so it is not used as propaganda by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) led by Benny Wenda.
“We are asking the Menlu to prevent the internationalisation of the Papua issue. The Kemlu [Foreign Affairs Department] must play an active role because the unfortunate action taken by the government in blocking the internet in Papua has turned into a negative issue overseas and is being used to berate the Indonesian government as if it is very authoritarian”, said Commission I member Lena Maryana from the United Development Party faction during a working meeting with Marsudi at the parliamentary complex in Senayan in Central Jakarta on Wednesday September 11.
According to Maryana, Benny Wenda’s maneuvers must be blocked because Wenda has received a great deal of support overseas including receiving an award from the Oxford City Council in Britain.
Commission I member Timbul Manurung meanwhile said he hopes that the Foreign Affairs Department can assist law enforcement officials in arresting Wenda who has already been declared the mastermind behind the riots in Papua by Indonesian police chief (Kapolri) General Tito Karnavian.
“Kapolri has declared that Benny Wenda is the mastermind, but he is not a citizen of our country, we have met with the British parliament and raised the issue [with them], they said it was a trivial matter, but they [the ULMWP] are supported by the Labour Party. How can the Kemenlu help”, said Manurung.
Wenda’s activities were also confirmed by People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Deputy Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid when he visited Africa.
“Benny Wenda is conducting a guerrilla [campaign], lobbying asking for parliamentary support from African countries, they have confirmed that Benny Wenda visited to lobby, using an ethnic and religious approach”, said Wahid.
Effendi Simbolon from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction has asked Marsudi to speak with the US Senate and parliaments in Europe in order to block Wenda’s efforts to garner support for Papuan independence.
“Ibu [Mother, Marsudi], speak with the British parliament, the American Senate, the French parliament, in Africa at the black caucus so that our sovereignty will not be lost, should Papua be lost then everything will be lost. I challenge Bu [Mother] Menlu, Ibu speak [to the parliaments] in Europe, Britain, at the US Senate and Congress”, asserted Simbolon.
In response to Commission I’s appeals, Marsudi has yet to respond publically and has asked that a closed meeting be held to address the issue.
“[These] questions need to be discussed in depth and behind closed doors particularly the issues of Papua, Palestine, the HAM [UN Human Rights] Council, and also in relation to the issue of the South China Sea, others we can respond to openly”, said Marsudi.
Although it is not mentioned in the article, also of concern to Indonesia is how the internationalisation of the Papua issue will impact on its campaign to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2020-2022 period, which will be put to a vote at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York October 16. The Indonesian government has had its eye on a seat at the UNHRC for some time in order to bolster its campaign to counter international support for West Papua independence.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Komisi I Minta Menlu Cegah Internasionalisasi Isu Papua”.]