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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP Supports Bid To Free West Papua

Written declaration supports calls for Independence Referendum in support of demonstrations.

As West Papua Independence Day is recognised today (Friday 1st December 2006), London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert has called on the EU to intervene, demanding Indonesia to respect human rights in West Papua – and grant the province a free and fair referendum on independence – in a written declaration launched today.

The Written Declaration – the European Parliament’s equivalent of an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons – has been co-sponsored by Jean Lambert, fellow Green MEP Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru Euro MP Jill Evans and Italian Liberal MEP Luigi Cocilovo.

West Papua has been under military occupation by Indonesia for more than 40 years following the withdrawal of Dutch colonial forces and Indonesia’s failure to hold an independence referendum.  Human Rights abuses in West Papua have continued since then – with torture, disappearances, detention without trial and murder of Papuans at the hands of the Indonesia military commonplace.

Jean Lambert, who was has been awarded for her work on Justice and Human Rights, today gave her support to the West Papua Independence Day demonstrations in London outside the Indonesian Embassy and the headquarters of both Rio Tinto and BP.  Jean said: “The people of Papua were promised a referendum on independence when the Dutch former colonial rulers withdrew from the country four decades ago.

“They are still waiting – and meanwhile the Papuans continue to suffer terrible repression, violence and abuse at the hands of an Indonesian Government more interested in securing lucrative business deals than honouring historical agreements – or complying with international law.

“This written declaration calls on the EU to do whatever is in its power to persuade Indonesia to change its approach and grant freedom to the people of West Papua that they might choose their future themselves.  I hope that this time next year we will be celebrating new found independence for West Papua.”

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea.  Formerly a Dutch colony, it was invaded by Indonesia in 1962.  The resource rich country, which boasts millions of square kilometres of tropical hardwood rainforest, massive oil reserves and, reportedly, the largest gold mine in the world, has remained under Jakarta’s yoke ever since.  UK multi-nationals BP and Rio Tinto both have substantial interests in West Papua.