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Alex Sobel MP Speaking on the floor of the House of Commons

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On Tuesday 20th October 2020, Alex Sobel MP the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on West Papua (APPG) in the UK spoke up in support of the people of West Papua, during a discussion on Black History.

Speaking on the floor of the House of Commons, Hon. Alex Sobel said:

“I would also like to talk about an episode of Black history that, sadly, is rarely taught in our academic institutions or schools: that is the oppression and genocide of the West Papuans under Indonesian occupation. As Chair of the APPG on West Papua, it is incumbent on me to add their struggle to those of so many black and indigenous ones around the world.

“This year, following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, the West Papuans found inspiration to link their struggle with those struggles under the slogan “Papuan Lives Matter.” The campaigners shed light on Indonesia’s institutional racism against West Papuans. For instance, in August 2019 Papuan students were attacked in Indonesia’s second largest city and called monkeys. The police then rounded up the students firing tear gas into their dormitory. In 2006 in Jayapura everyone who had dreadlocks was arrested and their hair was cut. This continued for a fortnight. The Jakarta Post last year discussed Papuans living in Yogyakarta and said that it was not unusual for landlords to express approval of rent applications by phone only to reject them once they find out where they are from. These and many other incidents of racism will chime with many of my colleagues in the Chamber, and they reflect how many black communities in the UK were treated in the past.

“West Papuan leaders, including Benny Wenda, chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, have sought political asylum around the world. Benny Wenda is a brilliant exponent for his people and needs to be platformed much more here in the UK where he lives so that light can be shone on what is happening to the West Papuan people.

“Finally, I again thank my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead for securing this opportunity that has enabled me to add my voice to those of my many black colleagues in the Chamber whom I am honoured to serve alongside.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on West Papua continues to raise UK parliamentary support for and pressure for West Papuan self-determination.

To find out more about International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) including how you can join, please visit: www.ipwp.org

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