FREE WEST PAPUA
West Papuans have continued to fight for their independence , with the support of many Pacific Nations. This is despite the Indonesia’s opposition, and also the Covid-19 impact on the region. The resolution of West Papuans grievances may have stalled, but nationalist sentiment has not been quelled. Their grievances,with the the Indonesian rule includes , human rights abuse, militarisation and frustrations about self determination . These issues have however attracted increasing, international attention and concern. As campaign groups, papuan leaders and concerned people all over the world. Alert their leaders to injustices happening in West Papua.
Conflicts are continuing at various flash points. However, since the first days Papuans have been under rentless attacks, people have been tortured, raped, murdered . In numbers that would constitute a genocide. All these has been done in attempt to claim the land, and make way for resource extraction. In also a further attempt,to “ eradicate” papuan culture. One of the worst examples, is when thousands of people were killed and displaced, to make way for giant American-Britain Freeport mine. The largest Gold mine in the world.
Independence aspirants have continued to be publicly demonstrated, and whislt to the ground. .The Indonesian police and military have continued, to respond in violence and intimidation. The Indonesian state back then attempted, to quell those hopes by passing special autonomy legislation. The legislation was supposed to devolve some power and distribute more resources to west Papua. However, the indigenous Papuans regarded it as a failure , with corruption and aim to money being misspent.
Early this month, we have witnessed papuan community leaders, and activists urging the Central government to exercise wisdom and involve Papuans in reviewing the special autonomy laws. New ideas are however needed, the problem is that in the past every time Papuans have represented reports and concrete proposals, to address the issues that matter most to them Migration , security, justice for starter, they have always been underrated or overruled.
We can trace back the west Papua’s struggle for independence, back in the early days. This was after a little contact with the modern world, west Papua was formally colonized by Netherlands. The Dutch as well colonized ,the islands that now make up Indonesia. Later in the year 1948, Indonesia became a republic , but West Papua did not join the country . The Dutch therefore, started preparing West Papua for independence, throughout the 1950’s. At the end of the year 1961, West Papua held a Congress and people declared independence and for the first time, they raised their new flag,the morning star.
Within months, their dream was dead as Indonesia wanted all former Dutch colonies, in the Asia Pacific region. Indonesia military invaded west Papua ,and a Conflict broke out between Netherlands, Indonesia and Indigenous population. This was regarding the control of the territory. Indonesian Government unable to secure enough support for its invasion, it turned to Soviet Union for help. This being at the height of cold war, the US government was worried about Indonesia’s move. As this would increase the spread of communism in south east Asia.
In attempt to appease a communist friendly Indonesian Government , US president wrote a letter to Dutch prime Minister , to have them hand over West Papua to Indonesia. A meeting between Netherlands and Indonesia was engineered and gave control of the West Papua to the UN and one year later, transferred to Indonesia. The people of West Papua were never consulted, however the agreement did promise them their right to self determination . With the widespread of resistance to Indonesian rule, it was agreed that the UN should oversee a plebiscite of the people of West Papua .
In which they would be given, two choices : to remain part of Indonesia or become an independent Nation. This could be determined by their votes, the vote of “ The Act Of Free Choice”. Which turned to a sham , instead of the UN overseeing a free and fair election. It helped Indonesia rig the elections. The Indonesian military , handpicked a thousand “ representative” out of a one million population. Declaring that the Papuans were too “primitive “to cope with the democracy. The a thousand voted to remain part of Indonesia, after being bribed and issued with threats.
Despite the protests from the Papuans , a critical report was released by a United Nations official and condemnation of the vote in international media . The United Nations Shamefully sanctioned the results and West Papua has remained under control of the Indonesia’s state Ever since then. Though their spirit to fight for their, independence and be a sovereign state never died. They have fought ,With the help of their leaders like Theys Eluay, who was assassinated back in 2001. The likes of Mako Tabuni, of New independence organization KNPB ( National Council of West Papua), Mako was also murdered in 2012.
Today West Papua tragedy continues with ongoing reports of villages being burnt. Papuans being arrested , tortured and shot. With the beautiful natural wilderness being devastated by logging, mining agricultural and biofuel interests. Consigning the fate of a million people to live under brutal occupation that ensued, is one of the most SHAMEFUL chapters in the history of the United Nations. Recently they have been a number of detailed reports , that heavily criticize the actions of Indonesia,the United Nations and it’s member states.
The principal aim of the ongoing” Free west Papua campaign” ,is to persuade the United Nations to renew its role in this event and for the world to allow the papuans a true act of self-determination. Historic meetings have been held where west papuan leaders and other leaders in Pacific countries and elsewhere have gathered and affirmed their support for the people of West Papua being able to choose their own future. In a free independent nation ,things are moving faster in the right direction but they need to move faster, if more bloodshed is to be avoided. People of West Papua cry for freedom, will finally be heard.
Their have been crying out for support for over fifty years, this time is more urgent than ever as the world witnesses another humanitarian crisis, happening in the highlands of West Papua. Today thousands of civilians are fleeing from Indonesian military, escaping air strikes and chemical weapons. Whilst children dying of starvation and in a tragic consequence of violence children as young as twelve years, have been brought into the ranks of independence fighters. The use of child soldiers is banned under International law right? But kids don’t come because their leader asked them to, but those whose fathers got shot, tortured and then died.
It’s after that, many would come. The Indonesian military, has been blocking aid and investigation. To the people of West Papua, thank you for never giving up and for courageously coming to the streets, and flying the morning star flag. Despite the the brutality that you face. Thank you to so many of you for having the courage to sign the historic people’s petition. Your voice is now in the hands of the UN, you are making progress, together in unity.