The United Liberation Movement for West Papua supports the idea of dialogue with Indonesia as long as it is mediated internationally, the movement's secretary says.
Indonesia's government of Joko Widodo has recently made overtures to West Papuan customary and civil society leaders for dialogue over a range of issues in Papua region.
Secretary Rex Rumakiek said the push for dialogue was not a bad thing.
"But dialogue internationally, not Indonesian type of dialogue that resulted in 1969's Act of Free Choice. That's the type of dialogue Indonesia wants. We are not going to go back to that approach," Mr Rumakiek said.
"We want an international dialogue and the best place to dialogue is the United Nations general assembly. Let us vote on the issue."
The movement hoped to have questions over the legitimacy of the self-determination act under which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia debated by the UN General Assembly in the next year or two, Mr Rumakiek said.
Since being admitted to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2015 with observer status in the regional grouping, the movement has had more opportunities to engage with Indonesia, which enjoys associate member status in the MSG.
The dynamic between the two parties, however, is clearly strained, as Indonesia's government has characterised the movement as a separatist group that does not represent Papuans.
The full MSG members - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Kanaks - have been working to facilitate dialogue between the movement and Indonesia
"We can talk direct to them with the MSG members as witnesses. That is what we call a third party" Mr Rumakiek explained.
"We cannot talk direct to Indonesia by ourselves, but with the MSG facilitating. We try to avoid other people speaking on our behalf. The MSG is trying to arrange for meetings (between the West Papuans and Indonesia's government)."
Meanwhile, the Australia-based Mr Rumakiek said the movement was disturbed by the reports from Papua's remote Nduga regency that Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army had exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.
Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army - which is not directly linked to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua - claimed responsibility.
Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to Nduga as part of a joint operation.
They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.
The Indonesian aerial operations over Alguru echoed previous military operations in the area, which devastated the livelihoods of Papuan villagers, Mr Rumakiek said.
"They are applying the same strategy that they bomb villages and chasing the people who live in the bush, so the after effects are much more serious than the actual destruction itself," he said.
"Those people, when they come back to their village there will be nothing left for them to return to because the schools and clinics are destroyed and the churches are destroyed."
But in a statement, Indonesia's military said reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs in Nduga were a hoax.
Military forces were working with police in "law enforcement activities" in Alguru, it said.
“We are ready and we want the world to know that we are not separatists as Indonesia calls us, we have our Executive, our Judiciary and our Legislative Arms in place.”
The Executive Committee of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) makes the above statement also to the Government and people of Vanuatu that they are ready to officially operate from their West Papua International Headquarters in Port Vila.
Speaking from Grand Hotel yesterday, ULMWP London-based Chairman Benny Wenda says the last six months have been transitional. In his latest announcement, the Chairman confirms the opening of three new ULMWP Offices in West Papua to be followed by four more shortly also in West Papua.
“I wish to confirm that what is happening within West Papua now regarding the opening of our offices in our home country goes to confirm that ULMWP is both an international and national organisational structure for the eventual freedom of the people of West Papua.
“It goes to prove that the claim by Indonesia that ULMWP is only for exiles is false,” he says.
Asked if those who operate the new offices should be fearful of reprisals by the Indonesian Military, the Chairman replies, “Our offices are owned and operated by our own people. Last year, our offices in Wamena and Fak Fak were targeted and it remains to be seen with the new openings.”
He says the Executive Director of ULMWP on the ground in West Papua is Marcus Haluk. He will be responsible for the seven offices when they all operate in the seven regents of West Papua.
Asked if it is a risk, he replies, “What is happening in West Papua now is as a result of what are taking place in other parts of the world. Look at what is happening in Palestine. People are not afraid anymore.
“It has come to a stage where if I have to die, I die but the cause will never die.”
Asked to comment on reports of the killing of three West Papuans, shooting at civilians by the Indonesian military from a helicopter gunship, and burning of houses, the ULMWP Chairman emphasises the importance for the world to sit up to the hypocrisy where Indonesia has been appointed a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, while its military has increased its presence in Nduga by 1,000 soldiers and police since last month, to hunt down members of the West Papua Liberation Army. The Chairman says history is repeating itself in the same regent after the present candidate for the next President of Indonesian, General Wiranto, allegedly led a massive operation in the area involving scores of West Papuans killed in the 1980s. ULMWP says the tactic currently deployed by Indonesia in West Papua reflects a nervousness on its own part that at long last, it is losing its historical stranglehold on West Papua.
“They even want to blame OPM guerrillas for the killing of the three civilians which is truly absurd as they cannot kill their own people in pursuit of freedom,” Chairman Wenda says.
“The fact of the matter is that Indonesia has been appointed to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and we ULMWP, oppose a terrorist state to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Using a military gunship to shoot into villages, burning homes and chasing people into the bush defeats logic to allow Indonesia to sit as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.”
Leaked information from West Papua to Port Vila claims Indonesia is also nervous that a forty-kilo heavy booklet comprising 1,800,000 West Papuan signatures complete with individual IDs, which was presented to the UN General Assembly last year calling for freedom, will be debated by UN General Assembly in September this year.
“We are also relisting West Papua to the UN Decolonisation Committee and we hope that Vanuatu will also endorse our stand. This is why Indonesia has adopted a terror and trauma strategy with a shooting spree into any gathering of West Papuans in West Papua”, ULMWP alleged.
In conclusion the ULMWP Chairman is appealing to the people of West Papua to care for their organisation like “an egg” saying, it was hatched in Port Vila through the help of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and people of Vanuatu.
For this reason it is vital for all independence factions and all affiliates to speak with one voice, sing the same song and walk the same talk for freedom which is coming soon.
“We have struggled and so many of us have died for the last 50 years for us to arrive where we are today. This unity must stand and stand strong. We have only one united organisation – ULMWP to take us to freedom,” says Wenda.
West Papua currently has a population of about 2.5 million people compared to Papua New Guinea’s 7 million. In 1970 PNG and West Papua were reported to be 50-50 in terms of population.