Through a written statement released on his official website Thursday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wished to underline that the UK Government’s longstanding position on Papua has not changed.
"Wenda’s presence in the UK does not mean that the UK Government supports his position on Papuan sovereignty, and the award by Oxford City Council has no bearing on UK Government policy," the statement said.
Local councils are politically independent of the central government and so this is a matter for the Council.
The UK Government continues to support the efforts of the authorities and civil society to address the needs and aspirations of the Papuan people, including to strengthen human rights protections and to ensure that Papuans benefit from sustainable and equitable development.
Officials from the British Embassy Jakarta regularly visit Papua and meet a wide range of authorities, NGOs and interest groups.
The Indonesian government strongly condemned Oxford City Council’s decision to award Benny Wenda, a member of the West Papua movement separatist group, the Freedom of the City.
"The Oxford City Council's has a lack of understanding of Benny Wenda's action and the actual conditions of the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, including their development and progress," said a statement from Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta Thursday.
Indonesia's position on separatist groups would remain firm. Indonesia will not retreat even an inch to enforce the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), the statement said.
The Oxford Freedom of the City Award announced for Wenda on July 17, 2019, was being presented to the wrong person because he believed in the use of violence to achieve his political goals, the Indonesian Embassy in London said earlier in a written statement.
The Indonesian Embassy in London questioned the basis for giving the award to those called "peaceful campaigners for democracy" in the midst of the abundant evidence linking those concerned with various armed violence in Papua.
The award would actually provide legitimacy to the person and his group to increase their acts of violence against civilians and government officials who maintain the sustainability of economic, social and cultural development in Papua, the embassy stated.
Therefore, giving awards to people with criminal records through armed separatist movements shows the lack of understanding of the Oxford City Council on Wenda's actions and the progress of the actual development of the Provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Related news: Indonesia condemns decision to award Benny Wenda