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April 21, 2001

Mr. Kofi Annan Secretary-General United Nations

Dear Secretary-General:

On behalf of the Papuans of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Irian Jaya (West Papua), I would like to draw your attention to social and political development in West Papua. We fear that, because of the unwillingness of the Government of Indonesia to enter into a meaningful and peaceful dialogue with the people of West Papua, the situation has reached a deadlock.

Since May 1, 1963, when the UNTEA transferred the West Papua territory to Indonesia, the people of West Papua have been the victims of systematic human rights violations at the hands of the Indonesian Government and army. These abuses include arrest, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, intimidation, killing and other egregious injustices.

The Papuan have suffered for over thirty-eight years (1963 to 2001) as a result of the fraudulent Act of Free Choice of 1969. A brutally repressive military regime organized the act of free choice, refusing universal suffrage and convening an assembly of only 1.025 of the West Papuan population. Meeting under extreme duress, these men, who voted under gunpoint, came to an "unanimous" decision to remain with Indonesia. To its detriment, the United Nations, which was supposed to supervise the act of free choice but was marginalized throughout the process, endorsed the results and has done virtually nothing to protect the rights and freedoms of the Papuan people since then.

The Papuans themselves recognize that the Act of Free Choice 1969 in West Papua was not democratic. It violated the International standards outlines in the New York Agreement 15 August 1962, Article XVIII (d) "... the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice...". And, article XXII of the Agreement, relating to "the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the in habitants of area ...".

Dr. Fernando Ortiz Sanz, UN Rep

"I regret to have express my reservation regarding the implementation of article XXII of the Agreement, relating to "the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area" (see UN Doc. Annex I, A/7723, para. 251, page 70).

"I must state at the outset of this report that, when I arrived in the territory in August 1968, I was faced with the problem of non-compliance with the provisions of article XVI of the Agreement. Though the United Nations experts who were to have remained in the territory at the time of the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia had been designated, they had never, owing to well known circumstances, taken up their duties. Consequently, their essential functions of advising on and assisting in preparation for carrying out the provisions for self-determinations had not been performed during the period May 1963 to 23 August 1969..." (ibid. para. 23, p.12).

"... an act of free choice has taken place in West Irian accordance with Indonesian practice, ...(ibid, para. 253, page 70). "The petitions opposing annexation to Indonesia, the cases of unrest in Manokwari, Enarotali, and Waghete, the flights of number of people to the part of the island that is administrated by Australia, and the existence of political detainees, more than 300 of whom were released at my request, show that without doubt certain elements of the population of West Irian held firm conviction in favor of independence. Nevertheless, the answer given by the consultative assemblies to the questions put to them was a unanimous consensus in favor of remaining with Indonesia" (ibid, para. 250,page 70).

"... On several occasion, I approached the government, which was in power in Indonesia at that time for purpose of implementing the provisions of article XVI, but failed to obtain a favorable reply. On 7 January 1965, as is well known, Indonesia withdrew its co-operation with the United Nations and it therefore became impossible to send the United Nations experts to West New Guinea (West Irian )" (ibid, para. 7, p. 3).

"The implementation of the second part of the Agreement was jeopardized during a certain period of time not only by the temporary withdrawal of Indonesia from the United Nations but also by the absence, as already mentioned in paragraph 14 above, of the United Nations experts who were to have remained in the territory in accordance with article XVI the Agreement" (ibid, para. 23, p.12).

"I commenced my work at United Nations Headquarters in New York, were the Secretariat placed offices and personnel at my disposal. Despite my willingness and readiness to travel to territory immediately after my appointment, my departure was postponed until August 7, 1968 at the official request of the Indonesian government" (ibid, para. 27, p.13).

"I received no official reactions to my suggestions concerning the questions to submitted to the representative councils and possible method for the act of free choice until a meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 10, 1969, when the government informed me of the method it proposed to submit to the representative councils in consultations to be held during the month of March 1969." (ibid, para. 83, p. 29)

"This meant that the Government still intended to apply the consultation (musyawarah) method of decision through representatives of the people but, in contradiction to the ideas expressed on 1 October (see paragraph 81), it planned to carry out the act of free choice not through one body of 200 representatives but consecutively through eight consultative assemblies, comprising some 1.025 representatives." (ibid, para. 85, p. 30)

"The views and wishes of the people were gradually expressed through various channels: petitions and other communications submitted to me in writing or orally, peaceful demonstrations, and in some cases manifestations of public unrest, including incidents along the border between West Irian and Territory of Papua and New Guinea administrated by Australia." (ibid, para. 138, p. 45)

"During the time my mission was in territory, I received a total of 179 petitions from West Irianese persons and political, civil, and student groups, as well as from Irianes residing abroad."

(ibid, para. 140, p. 46)

"... The majority indicated the desire to sever ties with Indonesia and support the idea of the establishment of a Free Papuan State. The petitioners often expressed criticism of the Indonesian administration; complained against acts of repression by the Indonesian armed forces; denounced the lack of guarantees for basic rights and freedoms, including the freedom to organize opposition political parties; requested the release of political prisoners and participation in the act of free choice of all West Irianese, including those residing abroad; denounced resolutions and statements in favor of Indonesia as false and signed by people under pressure from Indonesian officials; asked for the application of the "one man, one vote" system in the act of free choice and in the election by the people of the representatives to the councils, and expressed the view that opposition groups should be given representation in the councils." (ibid, para. 143, p. 47)

"The leaders of the insurgents requested the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from Paniai with the explanation that the people wanted to exercise the right of free choice without pressure. A government plane brought reinforcements of sixteen soldiers, and on 30 April shooting started between the Indonesian troops and the insurgents aided by the armed police deserters." (ibid, para. 160., p. 51)

"Nevertheless, the recurrence of border crossing during my mission in West Irian seems to show a certain degree of political dissatisfaction on the part of some of the inhabitants." (ibid, para. 172, p. 54)

"Notwithstanding the fairly negative result achieved up to that time, I continued my effort to have article XXII properly implemented. AT a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 May, I said that the problem of the full implementation of article XXII concerning rights and freedoms had to be dealt with because, up to that time, no concrete measures had been adopted. I suggested that the Indonesian government should allow the opposition the opportunity to express its views, since that was the moment to adopt courageous and generous measures." ( ibid, para. 180, p. 56)

Mr. Davin (Gabon)

"After studying this report, the Gobonese delegation finds itself extremely perplexed. It is very hard for us to pass judgment on the methods and procedures that were used to consult the people of West Irian. We are greatly disturbed by the reservations formulated by Mr. Ortiz Sanz in the final remarks at the close of his report" (see the UN Doc. General Assembly 24th, session 1969, official records, plenary meeting, paragraph 11, p. 2).

"As regards these methods and procedures, if my delegation had thought it necessary to speak on the substance of the question, it would certainly have drawn the Assembly's attention to certain aspect which are, to say the least, unusual. We might have expressed our surprise and requested an explanation concerning a number of facts brought out in the report of the Representative of the Secretary-General. For example, we might asked why the vast majority of the deputies were appointed by the government and not elected by the people; why the United Nations observers were able to be present at the election of only 20 per cent of the deputies, some of whom, incidentally, were elected automatically because they belonged to official representative bodies; why the consultative assemblies were presided over by the Governor of the district, in other words, by the representative of governmental authority; why only Government authorized organisations, and not opposition movements, were able to present candidates." (ibid, para. 12, p. 2)

"We might have asked why the principle of ‘one man, one vote,’ recommended by the Representative of the Secretary-General, was not adopted; why there was not a secret ballot, but a public consultation in the presence of the government authorities and the army; why the attending ministers deliberately and publicly influenced the deputies by informing them in plain term that "the only right answer to the question would be to declare that they wished to remain united with Indonesia" why rights recognized in article XXII of the Agreement, concerning freedom of opinion expression, association and assembly, were not enjoyed by all citizens." (ibid, para. 13, p.2)

" ... unfortunately, I have not found satisfactory answers in the report. That fact heightens our concern, which is increased, if possible, by the following reservation made by the Representative of the Secretary-General:

" I regret to have to express my reservation regarding the implementation of article XXII of the Agreement, relating to the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area". In spite of my constant efforts, this important provision was not fully implemented and the administration exercised all times a tights political control over the population" (A/7723 and Corr 1, annex I, para 251.) (ibid, para. 14, p. 2).

Mr. Akwei (Ghana)

"... Mr. Ortiz Sanz made two proposals for the consideration of the Indonesian government: first, that act of free choice should be based on direct voting in the cities in coastal areas where the general area of development, education and experience of the people of West Irian would quality them to express their opinions freely, and second, that in the hinterland, where the level of development, communications and education would be difficult, a system "of collective consultation" might be used to complement the one man, one vote, procedure. The advice of the Secretary-General Representative on this issue was rejected by the Indonesian Government." (ibid, para. 16, p. 2)

"Throughout the report of the Secretary-General's Representative the impression is clear that Mr. Ortiz Sanz was not satisfied with the method of musyawarah, which has been decided upon by the Indonesian government as the procedure to be used to determine the act of free choice. (ibid. para. 18, p. 2)

" ... the United Nations to recognize the act of free choice as having been truly an act of self-determination by the people of West Irian or, in the words of the Agreement "in accordance with international practice". Here again it is matter of record that the method adopted to determine the people’s will was not in accord with international practice. Hence the painful but clear verdict of Ambassador Ortiz Sanz that " an act of free choice has taken place in West Irian in accordance with Indonesia practice" A/7723 and Coor.1, annex I, para. 253, but not in accordance with international practice." (ibid. para. 20, p.3)

"Further, it is reported by the representative of the Secretary-General that at the actual event of deciding the act of free choice the strange phenomenon was regularly gone through whereby the Minister of Home Affairs took the floor and virtually campaigned, as it were. I quote from the report:

"He"-the Minister of Home Affairs of Indonesia- "asked the members of the assembly to determine their future with courage and full responsibility bearing in mind that they had one ideology, Pancha Shila, one flag, one Government and one country extending from Sabang sampai Merauke. It was the Indonesian Government, he added, which was willing and able to care for the welfare of the people of West Irian; therefore, there was no alternative but to remain within the Republic of Indonesia. he called upon the assembly to make Merauke the beginning of victory." (A/7723 and Corr.1, annex I, para, 195.) (ibid, para. 28, p. 4).

Dr. Hans Meijer (the Dutch historian in his investigation regarding the result of the act of free choice 1969 in West Papua state:

"The most interesting thing about the documents are actually the minutes of the cabinet. Because the Dutch Foreign Minister, Lunz, he said explicitly in the cabinet that he was convinced that the Act of Free Choice would not be honest that because if it was honest the Papuans would vote against Indonesia...,exactly that it was not democratic and that is was a force (probably the word here should be 'farce'). Lunz also had very secret meeting with the Indonesia Minister for Foreign Affairs, Adam Malik, in Rome, Italy, where he had confirmed to Malik that the Dutch would look away when the Act of Free Choice was to be held. Even if the Dutch knew that it would not be democratic, they would not do anything about it. Mr. Saltimar who was The Dutch Ambassador at the time of the Act Free Choice, he wrote to Mr. Schiff who was then Secretary General of the Foreign, that of course he saw a lot of things that were wrong but it was not his responsibility to report about that in official documents." (see: TAPOL website)  

Documents show Dutch support for West Papua take-over, ABC Radio National Asia/Pacific Program, first broadcasting, Apr. 17, 2001).

Finally, I wish to write Kofi Annan's statement was quoted by Ms. Anna Lindh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden on behalf of the European Union regarding human rights on the 57th Commission in Geneva as the following:

"Human rights are African rights. They are also Asian rights; they are European rights; they are American rights. They do not belong to any Government, they are not limited to any continent. They are fundamental and belong to humanity itself."

Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, head of United States Delegation was quoted, what the USA President state:

"The basic principles of freedom and dignity are universal. People should be able to say what they think, worship as they wish, elect those who govern them. These ideals have proven their power on every continent...". Kofi Annan said that "They are fundamental and belong to humanity itself." G.W.Bush said that "People should be able to say what they think, worship as they wish, elect those who govern them."

Now the Papuans are thinking, saying and electing to review the result of the Act of Free Choice 1969 in West Papua in the spirit of the right that are fundamental and belong to humanity itself.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Socratez Sofyan Yoman Secretary Executive of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches  of West Papua.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK. tel +44 020 8771 2904 fax +44 020 8653 0322 [email protected] 

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