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WEST PAPUA: New Zealand support grows after 'historic declaration' signed


Members of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua with Benny Wenda ... signing the "historic" Westminster Declaration. Image: Free West Papua Campaign

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Item: 9887

By Kendall Hutt
AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Political support in New Zealand for an independent West Papua is growing after a “historic declaration” was signed during free West Papua advocate Benny Wenda’s visit to the country this month.

Several politicians from across four political parties signed the Westminster Declaration, which calls for West Papua’s right to self-determination to be legally recognised through a vote.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty – who has been a vocal supporter of West Papuan independence throughout her political career – told Pacific Media Watch the meeting at Parliament by the IPWP was “amazing”.

“We had a really amazing evening at Parliament with the Westminster Declaration. We had a number of MP’s – nine MP’s on the night – including others subsequently signing the declaration, which as you know calls for a referendum, supervised independently by the UN for West Papuans to talk about and identify their views on self-determination.

“That was a really powerful moment. Benny said it’s very important for him travelling the world that he can actually meet the politicians and that the politicians actually – from a number of parties in this case – and sign up to the declaration.”

West Papua was controversially incorporated into Indonesia through a so-called “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 – only 1,026 selected West Papuans out of a population of 800,000 voted to become a part of the country – under duress.

In 2016, politicians from across the globe signed the declaration, first launched in the United Kingdom by Labour leader and co-founder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), Jeremy Corbyn.

11 MPs signed up
Eleven members of Parliament from across four political parties – Greens, Labour, National and the Māori Party – have signed the declaration.

Green MPs Catherine Delahunty, Barry Coates, Mojo Mathers, Jan Logie and Steffan Browning have signed, along with Labour MPs Louisa Wall, Carmel Sepuloni, Adrian Rurawhe and National MP Chester Burrows.

Co-leader of the Māori Party Marama Fox and Labour MP Aupito S’ua William Sio have also signed.

Delahunty is certain this number will grow, as the declaration is now circulating through caucus, she said.

“Not everyone could make the event, but there are people who are keen to sign up.”

Read the full article at Asia Pacific Report

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