The Act of No Choice

Hugh Lunn was Reuter’s Indonesian correspondent in 1969. He refused to leave West Papua despite orders from the London Head Office and stayed to report on the UN Act of Free Choice – a referendum which would decide the fate of 800,000 West Papuans.

The Act of No Choice is based on present day interviews with Lunn who reflects on the UN supervised vote and how our nearest neighbours were in effect sold into modern day slavery.

Only 1025 Papuans participated in the ‘vote’ which involved raising hands (indicating a preference for Indonesian governance over independence) often in the presence of civilian dressed Indonesian military. Dire consequences awaited those who refused or objected. According to Lunn, UN observers turned a blind eye and the vote was supported by the US, UK, France and Australia.

At the heart of this annexation was resources. West Papua has the world’s richest deposit of gold and copper and vast volumes of oil and gas off the coast of Papua. West Papua was effectively handed to Indonesia to be exploited by foreign multi national mining companies.

Lunn was just one of three foreign journalists to report on the vote which has had repercussion to this current day.