UN refutes 'Guardian' report on Papuan petition
Tama Salim, Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
The United Nations shot down on Thursday rumors that a petition calling for a Papuan referendum had been submitted to its Special Committee on Decolonization, with the committee's chairman saying he had had no contact whatsoever with the Papuan separatist issue.
In his capacity as C-24 chairman, Venezuela's permanent representative to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, expressed indignation with those individuals and parties who had manipulated his name for their own purposes.
Responding to The Jakarta Post's question on whether he had any form of communication with Papuan separatist Benny Wenda, Ramirez stressed that it was not possible to communicate with parties outside the C-24 agenda.
As explained by the Venezuelan diplomat, the committee's mandate is limited to 17 non-self-governing territories, or former colonies. He said that Papua was not included among them.
"I have never received anything or anybody regarding the issue of West Papua," he said in a doorstep interview on Thursday morning at the UN headquarters in New York.
The C-24 chair was responding to questions on an exclusive published on Sept. 27 in the London-based Guardian newspaper, which claimed that Wenda had submitted a petition to the UN decolonization committee that called for a Papuan referendum.
The petition, which was supposedly "smuggled from one end of Papua to the other", quoting Wenda, claims to have gathered signatures from 70 percent of the local population without alerting the authorities.
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