Melanesiahotnews.com – The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, on January 31, 2019, said that Indonesia had sent an official diplomatic protest note to Vanuatu in connection with the move of the country’s delegation which smuggled Papuan separatist figures during a meeting at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on January 25
As quoted from Antara (1/2/2019), Foreign Minister Retno explained that the protest note was sent to Port Vila because “the Vanuatu government does not respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia by supporting the Papuan separatist movement.”
Previously, news appeared in several foreign media that the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda claimed to have submitted a petition with 1.8 million signatures, containing a request for an independence referendum to the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Agency (KTHAM PBB Office) , Michelle Bachelet on Friday February 25, 2019.
It was reported that Benny also claimed to speak with Bachelet “regarding the situation in Nduga” – the reference to the armed group shooting cases against dozens of PT Istaka Karya workers in December 2018 – and asked the United Nations to send a human rights team to Cendrawasih Earth.
However, Benny’s activities at the UN human rights body were carried out by ‘hitching’ the Vanuatu delegation called by the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in the Pacific country.
Commenting further on the attitude of Vanuatu and the actions of Benny Wenda, Foreign Minister Retno said that the ULMWP Chair had a “manipulative and fake news” pattern.
“I do not speak because of his claims. The Benny Wenda pattern is usually manipulative and fake news, so we cannot say anything about 1.8 million (signers of the petition),” Foreign Minister Retno added after attending a working meeting with Commission I of the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta , Thursday 31 January 2019.
Foreign Minister Retno also did not want to speculate on the petition which he said was not based on good intentions, because it was submitted to KTHAM PBB Michelle Bachelet during a meeting with the Vanuatu delegation.
The incident not only surprised Bachelet, but also placed it in a situation that was a fait accompli (unavoidable).
“From the explanation of KTHAM PBB, it was clear that he (Bachelet) felt he had been fait accompl in the meeting, because he (Benny) was talking about Papua at the end of the meeting,” added Foreign Minister Retno.
Not the first time
This is not the first time ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda has claimed to have sent a petition about Papua to the United Nations. He did something similar in 2017, sending a petition for a referendum to the Special Committee for United Nations Decolonization (C-24).
However, the committee denied ever receiving a petition from ULMWP.
“I and the Secretariat of the C-24 Committee have never received formal or informal petitions or anyone about Papua as reported in the Guardian newspaper,” Committee Chair Rafael Ramirez said in a written statement on Friday 29 September 2017, referring to the British newspaper, The Guardian, who released the first news by quoting Benny’s statement.
This is also not the first time Vanuatu has voiced around the issue of Papua at the United Nations. One of them was in the 2016 General Assembly, when Vanuatu and five Pacific countries sent charges to Indonesia on suspicion of ‘human rights violations’ on the Cendrawasih Earth.
The strongest criticism of Vanuatu’s attitude came from Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla in September 2018 debating the 73rd General Assembly Session of the United Nations at the UN Headquarters in New York. The vice president said that Port Vila had “taken hostile actions” and “violated UN principles” for their attitude towards the issue of Papua at the United Nations. (CBN)