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Demanding referendum, KNPB calls for civil strike in Papua

CNN Indonesia - August 31, 2019

Jakarta – West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Victor Yeimo says that they are calling for a national strike throughout the territory claimed to be West Papua to demand a referendum or an act of self-determination through a popular vote.

"We have called on the Papuan people to hold a national civil strike in the territory of West Papua, to urge Jakarta to provide space for a referendum in West Papua", said Yeimo in an interview with CNN Indonesia TV on Saturday August 31.

According to Yeimo, this is part of the KNPB's struggle which will continue to demand a referendum because, for them, the situation in Papua is one of "Indonesian colonisation".

"Under [a process of] decolonisation, it is the obligation of the colonising country to give the right to self-determination", he said.

Although Yeimo admitted that the opportunities for dialogue with Jakarta are still open, talks are restricted because they do not allow for discussion on a referendum or international supervision.

"The demands of the Papuan people are that there must be negotiations and international supervision", he said.

Unfortunately, he said, the Papuan figures who have so far been invited to speak do not represent those who have different aspirations. According to Yeimo, the Papuan figures that have been speaking with the government are "opportunist people who have become part of the Papuan conflict for their personnel interests with those in power".

"Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has visited Papua several times and held a dialogue, and met many times with these people, that's fine. But he never talks to us, the actors and fighters who have aspirations which are different from these figures", he said.

Meanwhile former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Sutiyoso has accused the KNPB of being one of the parties which is strongly suspected of being behind the riots in Papua and West Papua.

First, according to Sutiyoso, internally this is based on the fact that the KNPB is an organisation which campaigns for independence for the West Papuan state.

"Within the KNPB soldiers are developed, [for] the TNPB [West Papua National Army]. Led by Goliath Tabuni", said Sutiyoso in an interview on Democracy Screen aired by CNN Indonesia TV on the evening of Friday August 30.

Sutiyoso said that with a force of 1,300 people, the TNPB's membership is distributed among 35 groups spread throughout Papua. He has recorded their armed force as having as many as 600 firearms, 200 of which are TNI (Indonesian military) standard weapons.

Second, based on external factors, Sutiyoso accuses the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) [of fermenting separatism].

Sutiyoso said that ULMWP spokesperson Benny Wenda – who is currently based in Britain – has been conducting "guerilla" diplomacy seeking support from a number of United Nation member states and pacific countries.

Sutiyoso noted that Indonesia does not have any legal basis for recognising a referendum. People's Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPR) Number VIII/1998 has already revoked TAP MPR IV/1993 on Referendums. Then there is Law Number 6/1999 on Revoking Law Number 5/1985 on Referendums.

With the annulment of these laws, neither the constitution nor legislation under the Indonesian legal system acknowledges or recognises an institution or model for a referendum. (arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tuntut Referendum, KNPB Serukan Mogok Sipil Nasional di Papua".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190831193109-20-426422/tuntut-referendum-knpb-serukan-mogok-sipil-nasional-di-papua