Indonesia furious over Benny Wenda inclusion at the Pacific Islands Forum

The Indonesian government is furious at Vanuatu’s move to include one of the Free Papua leaders Benny Wenda as a participant of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu, 13-16 August 2019.

Benny reportedly would use the forum to urge the UN to hold a referendum on Papuan independence.

According to media reports by The Guardian, in the PIF in Tuvalu, Benny who now lives in the UK will gather support from the Pacific countries for the independence of his homeland, Papua.

Benny as the leader of the Free Papua always invites the attention of the Government of Indonesia, as was the latest case when the City of Oxford gave him an award in July 2019.

A spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs stated that the country recognized Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua, as stated in the 2006 Lombok Agreement.

“Australia will not support efforts to undermine Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua in any forum and will not link itself to the PIF Communiqué associated with it,” he said.

Australia, he said, regularly raised the issue of human rights with the Government of Indonesia, including regarding Papua.

While a spokesman for the Indonesian Government warned that discussing the Papua issue at the PIF forum this week would create a “negative precedent for openly discussing the internal affairs of other countries”.

He said Papua had special autonomy rights and democratically elected leaders who participated in Indonesia’s political system.

“In the 2019 elections, the number of voters in the provinces of Papua and West Papua was 88 percent. 94 percent of them supported the Jokowi Government,” he said.