15 MAR 2019
Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me about the situation in West Papua and the possible use of chemical weapons.
I understand you would like me to sign EDM 2074 on this matter, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.
Nonetheless, I know this issue has already been raised via a written question and I am copying the exchange below:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the accuracy of reports that the Indonesian Armed Forces used Chemical weapons on West Papuan civilians on 15 December 2018.
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 07 February 2019
The British Government condemns the attack on construction workers by an armed group on 2 December in Nduga district in Papua. We have called on the Indonesian authorities to ensure that the security response is proportionate. Our Ambassador has discussed this with senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are aware of a media claim about the possible use of white phosphorus. This has been strongly denied by the Indonesian authorities. We have been in touch with NGOs and others who have looked into the allegation; they have not found any evidence to support it.
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