Indonesia Accuses Members of European Parliament of Spreading Lies about Papua – Indonesia views a number of members of the European Parliament as trying to spread lies about Papua. Indonesia reminded the European Union of mutual respect for cooperation and partnership agreements, including the issue of Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Teuku Faizasyah, said that the Indonesian government was monitoring an activity called the International Parliamentarians for West Papua. The activity was held at the European Parliament complex in Strasbourg, France, on Thursday (12/5/2022).

“It is not an official activity (European Parliament or European Union) so it has no official significance,” he said in Jakarta.

The activity was encouraged by two members of the European Parliament, namely Carles Puigdemont and Pernando Barrena coming from Spain. Puigdemont is a figure of Catalonian separatism, while Barrena is a Basque separatist figure. Barrena was arrested for being involved in trying to separate parts of Spain and being involved in terrorism. Puigdemont was once a fugitive from Spain because of separatism matters.

“Both of them are separatist adventurers and have been involved in legal problems related to the separatist movement in Spain,” said Faizasyah.

Based on the background of the two men, Indonesia considers the activities in the European Parliament complex to have no credibility. This activity is more appropriate to be considered as a personal wandering and collaboration with fellow separatists. President Catalina Carles Puigdemont (front, third from left) joined to demonstration to against the National Court’s decision to imprison civil society leaders in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Saturday, October 21, 2017.

 The Indonesian government, Thursday (12/5/2022), requested the European Union for confirmation regarding the activities of Puigdemont, who is now a member of the European Parliament, holding a meeting entitled International Parliamentarians for West Papua at the European Parliament complex in Strasbourg, France. Indonesia has requested confirmation from relevant parties in the EU. Brussels confirmed the activity was not an official activity of the EU or the European Parliament. This activity can be conducted by using the rules of the European Parliament which allows its members to form groups or forums to discuss various issues.

The rules of the European Parliament allow for informal activities by members of parliament to be held in the parliament complex. However, the European Parliament does not necessarily support these activities. Based on that confirmation, Indonesia concluded the International Parliamentarians for West Papua as a political adventure to spread lies and provocations. Indonesia also emphasized that the Jakarta-Brussels relationship is based on the principle of mutual respect, including the issue of territorial integrity.

The activity in Strasbourg was held when Indonesia again sought the division of Papua. Of the two provinces, Papua will be made into five provinces, namely Papua, West Papua, South Papua, Central Papua, and Papua Central Mountains. So far, various demonstrations have been carried out by Papuans to oppose the division, which is seen as more concerned with the needs of the political elite than the aspirations of the people.

Based on documents from the European Parliament hearings, Puigdemont regularly raises the issue of Papuan independence. The last attempt was submitted to the European Commission’s Head of Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, in December 2021. He requested that the EU-Indonesia trade negotiations be linked to human rights issues in Papua.

In a written reply in February 2022, Borrel emphasized that the EU and Indonesia have agreed on cooperation and partnership since 2014. He also emphasized that the EU supports Indonesia’s territorial integrity. On the other hand, Brussels has urged Jakarta to allow a visit by a delegation from the United Nations (UN) High Commission to Papua. Indonesia is also expected to allow the UN special rapporteur to visit Papua.

The EU also recorded that there are still issues of freedom of expression and assembly in Papua. In addition, there are local residents’ welfare issues that need to be improved. Because of this, the EU is helping to improve welfare in Papua through a series of programs. Although officially still supporting the territorial integrity of Indonesia, the EU and its members as well as a number of European countries allow supporters of the separation of Papua to live and operate there. A similar attitude is shown by Australia and New Zealand.

A Former member of the Indonesian House of Representatives and former Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya said the partiality of several members of parliament and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) abroad to Papuan separatist groups was caused by their lack of understanding of what was really happening in Papua and the steps being taken and will be done by the Government of Indonesia.

Apart from that, said Tantowi, it is also due to the political agenda of the members of parliament and certain political parties by riding on the Papua issue. “Parliamentary diplomacy must be increased. Since this issue is often raised by members of parliament, it will be more effective if the issue is responded to by fellow members of parliament,” said Tantowi in a written statement.

“What we have to do is produce the latest and actual news about Papua and routinely send it to members of parliament and NGOs. You don’t have to wait until an issue arises,” said Tantowi. “(Besides that) it is also involving members of parliament and their political parties. The Indonesian Embassy must be agile in embracing them.

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