Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has summoned the British Ambassador in Jakarta, Owen Jenkins, regarding the declaration of an independent Papua on 1st December 2020 that was echoed by the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda.
“Two days ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs requested the Director-General of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the British Ambassador,” said Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Teuku Faizasyah. During the same comments, he could not confirm whether the summons occurred.
Aside from Benny’s declaration of Papua independence, the summons is also based on the formation of the West Papua Provisional Government and Benny declaring himself the leader through the ULMWP official website. Moreover, Benny has said that his party would implement its own constitution and would not submit to the Indonesian government.
Indonesia’s House of Representatives (DPR) and the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) condemned Benny’s move and urged the government to take concrete action against these acts of separatism.
The People’s Consultative Assembly Chairman Bambang Soesatyo said the Foreign Minister needed to summon the British Ambassador to enquire about the British position regarding Papua and Indonesia. Bambang also asked the Foreign Affairs Minister to immediately deliver a diplomatic note to emphasise Indonesia’s position in Papua.
“Deliver a diplomatic note regarding Indonesia’s firm position on Papua, both to the British government and the Pacific countries that support the separatist movement,” requested Bambang.
He went on the say that it was time for Indonesia to take a firm stance regarding the movement intended to divide the country. He also noted that Benny’s statement regarding Papua’s independence is one-sided and does not comply with applicable international law.
Benny Wenda is a pro-independence figure in West Papua. He was detained for being involved in pro-independence demonstrations in Papua and raising the Morning Star flag in 2002. However, Benny escaped from prison and has been living in England since 2003.
The Indonesian authorities have attempted to extradite Benny to Indonesia by submitting a red notice to Interpol in 2011. However, Interpol revoked the status a year later. The Indonesian government is said to have continued to approach the British authorities, especially the police, to help arrest Benny.
So far, Britain has been silent regarding Benny’s immigration status. He is said to have applied for political asylum in the UK. However, in 2019, Britain refused to disclose Benny’s nationality and whether or not his request for asylum had been accepted.
Meanwhile, Faizasyah admitted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is unaware of Benny’s citizenship status. “There is no information on his citizenship status. However, if he is an Indonesian citizen, there is a need to extend his passport from time to time, which he has never done,” as quoted by CNN Indonesia.