1 Dec 2006

European MPs present paper calling for West Papuan independence referendum

4:32 pm on 1 December 2006

European MPs are presenting a written declaration calling for a referendum on independence for Papuans living under Indonesia rule.

The written declaration - the European Parliament's equivalent of an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons - is being launched today to coincide with West Papua Independence Day, December 1st.

It includes a call for the European Union to intervene in forcing Indonesia to respect human rights in Papua province, and grant the province a free and fair referendum on independence.

One of the Declaration's sponsors, South East England MP Caroline Lucas, says Papuans were promised a referendum on independence when the Dutch former colonial rulers withdrew from the country four decades ago, and they are still waiting.

The Written Declaration needs to attract the support of half the European parliament's 732 members to become official policy.

December 1st is the anniversary of the 1961 West Papuan Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule.

Demonstrations have been planned to mark the anniversary in London outside the Indonesian Embassy and the headquarters of both Rio Tinto and BP.