KNPB rejects 2024 elections as legitimisation of colonial rule over Papua

Suara Papua – January 26, 2024
KNPB Central Chairperson Warpo Sampari Wetipo – Undated (SP)

Jayapura – The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) has explicitly stated that it rejects the agenda of the Indonesian rulers in the territory of West Papua. Specifically the festival of democracy, namely the legislative and presidential elections, which will be held next month on February 14.

In a press release dated January 26, KNPB Central Chairperson Warpo Sampari Wetipo emphasised that the people of the West Papuan nation should not take part in Indonesia's agenda.

"The first reason is because Indonesia is the colonial ruler and the people of West Papuan are a colonised nation that has yet to determine its political future or has yet to obtain its political status under international law", he said.

The KNPB stated that West Papua is a non-self governing territory that has yet to determine its own future. They emphasised therefore that an election in the framework of colonialism is not the same as the right to determine the West Papua nation's future, but rather a form of enforced political occupation (power repression).

"The elections do not reflect the real desires or aspirations of the Papuan people, rather they represent a tool of hegemonic manipulation to maintain colonial rule over the West Papuan homeland", asserted Wetipo.

The second reason, said Wetipo, is that elections under colonialism do not reflect full democracy for the West Papuan people, which means that the elections are not a genuine democratic arena because in practice they conflict with the principles of freedom, equality and justice.

"In the 60 years of being colonised, elections are just a symbol to provide the impression of colonial legitimacy in West Papua, because the fact is that all of the economic and political decisions on West Papua have been taken over by the colonial rulers. The evidence, we are currently witnessing blatant repression of Otsus [Special Autonomy] policies, the creation of new administrative regions, military operations and the endless exploitation of SDA [natural resources] in the land of Papua. Jakarta has forced this through by closing off the West Papuan people's democratic space through weapons and imprisonment. Meanwhile for the sake of colonial economic and political power, West Papua has just become an object of exploitation for colonial political elite image building and the West Papuan people are herded by a democratic culture that is full of manipulation, corruption, divisiveness and hostility of fellow colonised people", he explained.

Wetipo raised a third reason, the elections represent an arena for the victory of the Indonesian colonisers to conquer the Papuan nation both economically and politically.

"Because of the fact that the remaining 2.9 million Papuans will lose their political representation due to the consolidation of the colonising migrants (non-Papuans) who have united with the colonial rulers to take over West Papua through the 2024 elections. This is proven by the dominance of non-Papuan candidates in almost all cities in the land of Papua. Meaning the Otsus political package, which is said to be for protection, partisanship and protection [for West Papuans], is just posturing by Jakarta."

Wetipo continued, "What is real and right before our eyes is the politics of usurping power in Papua to further strengthen the expansion of capital, the military and migrants (non-Papuans) in the land of Papua".

The KNPB noted, as has happened up until now, that the handful of Papuan political elites elected to legislative seats will submit to the policies of the colonial political parties that are pro-colonialism and pro-capitalism in the land of Papua. Also, the three presidential and vice presidential candidates together with the parties that surround them are supporters of the authorities who backed the enactment of all the anti-democratic and anti-people legal products such as Omnibus Law on Job Creation, the revised Criminal Code (KUHP), the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law and so forth.

"This means, Papuans will just submit to being oppressed while begging for a piece of self-esteem and honor under colonial power, because of course everything is determined by Jakarta. If you want to fight, then your fate will be the same as the late [Papua governor] Lukas Enembe and all of the Papuan elite who have been forced to die."

Because the Papuan nation is not a small nation of beggars, the KNPB emphasised that in having self-esteem as an intelligent and critical nation it does not need to give legitimacy to the colonial regime.

"As a people of fighters and a fighting people, we have a moral responsibility to uphold justice and truth as the foundation towards national liberation", he said.

In relation to the agenda of the 2024 elections, the KNPB conveyed a number of resolute positions.

First: Rejecting the political participation of the Papuan colonised nation in the colonial elections as long as Indonesia's illegal colonial power is still entrenched in the West Papua homeland.

Second: Demanding that the Indonesian government immediately fulfill the democratic rights of the West Papua people, which have been stolen since the 1969 UN sponsored referendum on West Papua's integration with Indonesia (Pepera), namely by holding a peaceful and democratic referendum under international supervision.

Third: Appealing to the West Papuan people to remain calm and optimistic about fighting for political and economic independence outside the politics of Indonesian colonialism and support the democratic struggle of the Papuan people, namely the right to self-determination through referendum.

Fourth: Appealing to the West Papuan people to avoid divisive politics and operations by the colonisers to create chaotic divisions between families and ethnic groups.

Fifth: Supporting the democratic struggle of the oppressed people, especially the working class, workers, farmers, the urban poor, marginalised people, students and so forth to a consolidate a political alternative in order to win full democracy from the hands of the capitalist and militaristic regime.

Sixth: Explicitly forbid KNPB management and members from participating in voting or being elected in the Indonesian colonial election.

"Thus we issue this position to affirm the posture and struggle of the Papuan people in relation to the agenda of the Indonesian colonial election on February 14, 2024", concluded the statement.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Inilah Sikap Resmi KNPB Terhadap Agenda Pemilu 2024".]