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West Papuans hit out at President Widodo for treating the region as a ‘holiday home’ during a human rights crisis

WEST Papuan independence campaigners blasted Indonesian President Joko Widodo today, accusing him of treating the region as a “holiday home” in the midst of a human rights crisis.

They reacted angrily to Mr Widodo’s inaugural speech at the 47-member United Nations human rights council, to which Indonesia was readmitted earlier this month after securing the most votes in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The president made no mention of human rights, no mention of West Papua.

“Under his watch, West Papua has seen one of its biggest uprisings ever, becoming an international issue – and the president has nothing to say about it,” United Liberation Movement for West Papua chairman Benny Wenda lamented.

He claimed that Indonesia’s reason for rejoining the human rights council was to prevent the UN body from taking up the West Papua issue.

“At the same time, investigative journalists and others revealed that Indonesia has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars spreading hoaxes on Facebook and other social media. 

“Just this week, Indonesia announced a new $200 million [£155m] chequebook diplomacy fund to try and stop our progress,” Mr Wenda added.

Scores of people were killed and many more arrested last month when 16,000 Indonesian troops were mobilised against a wave of demonstrations demanding independence for West Papua.

At least 500,000 lives have been lost since the region was annexed by Indonesia in 1969, following a fake referendum from which all but a handful of voters were excluded.

Mr Wenda warned Mr Widodo to stop using West Papua as a holiday home in the middle of a “genocide” and demanded a referendum to decide the region’s future.

“We are in a battle of truth against lies, of justice against injustice, of David against Goliath,” he declared.

“Every move Indonesia makes to stop the progress of the people of West Papua only brings us closer to our liberation.”

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