The ‘Road to Freedom’ conference on West Papuan self-determination will be chaired by British MP Andrew Smith, this Tuesday, August 2nd, at 75-81 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BG, United Kingdom (UK).
This conference is the greatest opportunity to date, to promote West Papua’s 40 year struggle for independence from a violent and oppressive Indonesian occupation, to an increasingly conscious international community.
Speakers will include, exiled Papuan independence leader, Benny Wenda; International human rights lawyer (also lawyer for Julian Assange), Jennifer Robinson; co-founder of the International Lawyers for West Papua, Charles Foster; Governor of Port Moresby and the National Capital District, Papua New Guinea, Powes Parkop; Witness to the 1969 Act of Free Choice, Clement Ronawery; Vanuatu Justice Minister, Ralph Regenvanu; Expert Member of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Frances Raday; and Expert on the 1969 Act of Free Choice, John Saltford.
The “Road to Freedom” conference comes right on the heels of last week’s Joint Commission meeting between the U.S. and Indonesia, where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the United States’ support of the failed policy of ‘special autonomy’ which has held West Papua in a developmental stand-still for over 4 decades.
The need for change in Papua is becoming ever more pressing, as the Indonesian military just began a new round of “sweeping operations” which have already claimed several civilian casualties, including women and children.
The growing presence of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP), who “are committed to assisting the indigenous peoples of West Papua to exercise freely and peacefully their right to self-determination,” is a welcome development. Benny Wenda stated:
“All the legal experts from around the world could come together to look at the legal argument… because the last forty-eight years, we have not had any lawyers. They can look at the case. It’s very important for our struggle.”
Earlier this year, Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman – during the launch of his new book ‘OPM – Otonomi, Pemekaran dan Merdeka (Autonomy, Redistricting & Freedom)’ – announced:
“a team of 50 lawyers, led by Melinda Janki of Guyana, is preparing to challenge the UN, US, & Netherlands regarding the [bogus] ‘Act of Free Choice.’”