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Papua referendum idea not popular among local people

Antara News - August 4, 2011

Jakarta – Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the demand for a referendum as voiced by a group of Papuan people recently was supported by few members of the region's community.

The minister made the statement here on Thursday in response to a rally and conference held in England last Tuesday (August 2) in support of the discourse on a referendum in Papua and West Papua to separate from Indonesia.

According to available information, the conference and rally were held in Oxford, England, by a group calling itself International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP). The conference was themed "West Papua: The Road to Freedom".

"Their demand is not popular among people living in Papua island," said the minister adding that the government would coordinate with related authorities to find the best possible solution to the referendum demand.

"What's clear now is that the government won't tolerate any separatist movement because it is related to the sovereignty and unity of Indonesia as a country," Purnomo said.

Meanwhile, vice chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR)'s Commission I Tubagus Hasanuddin said a referendum on Papua was no longer an issue for Indonesia because it had been settled years ago.

He said the most important thing the government should do in the future was to implement strategies to improve the welfare of Papuans and close the developmental gaps between Papua and other provinces in Indonesia.

Based on information obtained from the ILWP's website the "West Papua – The Road to Freedom" conference was held in the East School of the Examination Schools, 75-81 High Street, Oxford, on Tuesday August 2, 2011.

"We the undersigned recognize and confirm that the indigenous peoples of West Papua have a fundamental right to self determination under international law," a conference spokesman was quoted as saying in the organization's website. (T.R018/A051/HAJM/B003)