Keynote Address at the Conference on the Self-Determination and Liberation of West Papua

Posted on 19 April 2017

Below is the keynote address of  Antonio Tujan, Jr., IBON International Director, at  "Merdeka! (Freedom!): A Study Conference on West Papua Self-determination and Liberation ." The conference was held on March 26-27, 2016 in Davao City, Philippines.  In his address, Antonio Tujan discusses the struggle of the West Papuan people, and the principle of self-determination as national liberation, allowing "a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development."  The Conference Declaration can be accessed  here.


photos courtesy of Roy Anunciacion

I would like to congratulate the IPMSDL and the ILPS global secretariat for organizing this study conference, which was the result also of a resolution of the ICC (International Coordinating Committee) in April 2016.  I would also like to congratulate and acknowledge iNPEACE, KALUMARAN and Salugpongan for co-organizing and hosting this timely and urgent conference.

I believe that struggle of the West Papua people as well as that of the people of Indonesia are important for ILPS and IPMSDL to focus their attention and support.  We also acknowledge the solidarity and support of ILPS Philippines, ILPS Australia and ILPS East Asia and Oceania global region, which is being reorganized.

This study conference seeks to look at the issue of self-determination and the question of national subjugation or annexation of West Papua and why the struggle for secession and liberation is urgent and fundamental.  And therefore deserves the solidarity, cooperation and support, alliance and coordination by all peoples organizations around the world, and especially that from the peoples movement of Indonesia.

Essentially, the right to self-determination is the right of people to determine their own destiny. In particular, the principle allows a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development [1].

Self-determination is among the democratic rights that people enjoy and is among the civil and political rights enshrined in The International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights to which governments have signed and ratified. Democratic rights of the people should principally be understood and applied as collective rights of people such as the right to development and the rights of self-determination as well as the enjoyment of the whole family of rights as nations and countries and among social groups and classes and also expressed inrights of individuals.

As a conference in the Hague of Unrepresented Peoples Organization reports:

“Exercise of the right of self-determination can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political independence through to full integration within a state. The importance lies in the right of choice, so that the outcome of a people's choice should not affect the existence of the right to make a choice. In practice, however, the possible outcome of an exercise of self-determination will often determine the attitude of governments towards the actual claim by a people or nation. Thus, while claims to cultural autonomy may be more readily recognized by states, claims to independence are more likely to be rejected by them. Nevertheless, the right to

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