Indonesia praised the UK Government for its consistency in supporting Indonesia’s territorial integrity, and regard West Papua as an integral part of Indonesia. West Papua has been an integral part of Indonesia since the 1969 Act of Free Choice (PEPERA) referendum, supervised by the United Nations. It was conducted with 400 representatives of tribes, 360 from regional communities, and 266 from civil organizations.
Following the legal standing of the 1969 Act of Free Choice, the award by Oxford City Council has no bearing on UK Government policy towards Indonesia and West Papua. Indonesia condemns the decision by The Oxford City Council to give the Freedom of The City award to Benny Wenda, who has a criminal record in West Papua. Benny Wenda formed a new illegal armed group in West Papua, called West Papua Army. Wenda has chosen violence as his way to achieve political goals.
The illegal armed group is intended to seize power from another local armed criminal group, OPM-TPNPB. OPM-TPNPB has threatened to kill West Papua Army members. Previously on 7 December 2000, Wenda attacked a police station in Abepura City, torched two shops, killing a policeman and a security guard. Benny Wenda then escaped the prison and sought asylum in the UK in 2003.
Indonesia stated that the award has shown lack of understanding from the Oxford City Council about the background of Benny Wenda. The Oxford Council has also shown ignorance towards the real condition of West Papua, including development progress. West Papua has the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) which ensures that all public office holders, governors and regents, are native Papuans. Since 2001, West Papua has been given special autonomy status.
In 2019, the autonomy fund reached USD 200 million. This fund is used to provide free healthcare and infrastructures: 4,330 km of Trans Papua roads, 48 airports, and 115 hospitals. Meanwhile, the UK Government has expressed its support to Indonesia’s territorial integrity, and regard Papua as an integral part of Indonesia.
Demonstrated by 3 visits by british envoy Moazzam Malik in 2015, 2016, and 2017 to Sorong, Manokwari, and Jayapura. Indonesia expressed its determination to fight armed criminals, and will not back an inch in defending the integrity of the republic’s territory.