“Indonesia has deliberately and systematically committed crimes against humanity and has yet to be held accountable.”
On September 22nd The United States Congress held a hearing on the subject of “Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable For Deliberate And Systematic Abuses In West Papua?”
West Papua is the largest province of Indonesia and has been seeking independence for decades.
The hearing was chaired by representative Eni F.H. Faleomavaega. He is one of the most important voices on the international scene fighting for West Papuan independence, and an end to Indonesian Military abuses.
His opening statement contains valuable insight into the plight of the people of West Papua:
“To my knowledge, today’s hearing is historic. This hearing is the first hearing ever held in the U.S. Congress that gives voice to the people of West Papua.
“Since 1969, the people of West Papua have been deliberately and systematically subjected to slow motion genocide. . . by Indonesian military forces and yet Indonesia declares that the issue is an internal matter, while the U.S. Department of State recognizes and respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia.
“The truth is, this is no issue of territorial integrity or an internal matter [for Indonesia]. . .
West Papua was a former Dutch colony for years, just as East Timor was a former Portuguese colony, just as Indonesia was a former colony of the Netherlands. Because of its status as former colony, East Timor achieved its independence from Indonesia in 2003 through a referendum sanctioned by the United Nations despite Indonesia’s serious objections over East Timor’s right of self-determination.
“In contrast, in 1962, the United States pressured the Dutch to turn over control of West Papua to the United Nations. Under the U.S.-brokered deal, (then known as Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker’s proposal), Indonesia was to make arrangements with the assistance and participation of the United Nations to give Papuans an opportunity to determine whether they wish to become part of Indonesia or not.
“In what became known as ‘the Act of No Choice,’ carried out in 1969, 1,025 West Papuan elders under heavy military surveillance were selected to vote on behalf of some 800,000 West Papuans regarding the territory’s political status. In spite of serious violations of the U.N. charter and no broad-based referendum,
West Papua was forced to become a part of Indonesia by the barrel of a gun.
“According to the Congressional Research Service, and I quote, “declassified documents released in July 2004 indicate that the United States supported Indonesia’s takeover of Papua and the lead up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice, even though it was understood that such a move was likely unpopular with the Papuans.
“The documents reportedly indicate that the United States estimated that between 85 and 90 percent of Papuans were opposed to Indonesian rule and that as a result the Indonesians were incapable of winning an open referendum at the time of Papua’s transition from Dutch colonial rule. Such steps were evidently considered necessary to maintain the support of Suharto’s Indonesia during the height of the Cold War,” end quote.
“Bluntly put, in exchange for Suharto’s anti-Communist stance, the United States expended the hopes and dreams and the lives of some 100,000 West Papuans who consequently died as a result of Indonesian military rule. . .
“While. . . there is strong indication that the Indonesian government has committed genocide against the West Papuans, I am disappointed that the U.S. Department of State requested that I omit the word genocide in the initial title I put forward for this hearing.
“The State Department requested a change in title based on the assertion that the word genocide is a legal term. . .
“But given U.S. complicity, it is little wonder that every administration wishes to distance itself from this ugliness.
“the conquest of Europe, which mostly means taking away from those that have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much,” . . .
“When you look into it too much, nothing about Indonesia’s ruthless brutality or U.S. complicity is a pretty thing.” . . .
Read the entire transcript of the hearing at etan.org