27 Sep 2017

1.8 million West Papuans petition UN for independence vote

7:23 pm on 27 September 2017
West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda.

West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

A petition with the signatures of 1.8 million West Papuans in Indonesia has been presented to the United Nations in New York demanding an internationally supervised vote on independence.

The exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda presented the document to the C24, the special committee on decolonisation on Tuesday.

Dr Jason MacLeod from the University of Sydney is a West Papua expert who has just returned from the Indonesian territory to verify the petition.

He said it was fair and accurate representation of the West Papuan people's will and the UN needed to pay due attention.

"They've got two choices before them. They can either re-list West Papua on the UN Committee for Decolonisation or they can put pressure on the Indonesian government to hold a referendum. One of those two things really need to happen."

The Free West Papua movement said the 1.8 million people who signed the petition account for more than 70 percent of the region's population.

Ballot box in a Vanuatu election.

Calls persist to revisit the 1969 vote which passed the former Dutch colony into Indonesian possession Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades