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1.8 million Papuans sign referendum petition - comment by Dr Keith Hyams

Dr HyamsThe most significant development in West Papua’s troubled history of the last 50 years took place yesterday, when a petition calling for a referendum on independence signed by 1.8 million Papuans, 70% of the Papuan population, was delivered to the United Nations.

Dr Keith Hyams, who leads the Politics of Papua Project at the University of Warwick, said:

“The petition calls for a right to self-determination, which was promised but denied to Papuans in 1969 when a hand-picked group of representatives were coerced into agreeing to West Papua’s becoming part of Indonesia. Since then, in the face of human rights abuses, a lack of media access, and a genocide that some observers estimate has killed as many as 500,000, Papuans have continued to advocate for the right to self-determination. The petition, which coincides with the issue of West Papua being raised in the UN General Assembly by several states, represents a major turning point, because it is the first time that we have had clear proof that a majority of Papuans are in favour of self-determination.”

28 September 2017

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