On Wednesday, September 22, 2010 the United States House of Representatives- Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment- will conduct an open hearing entitled:
“Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua?”
West Papua is on the verge of massive political and social unrest as a decades-old struggle for independence comes to a head with Indonesia’s emergence as a bona fide world power and one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
The past few months have been tumultuous for West Papua, to say the least.
Indonesia’s army is largely financed by multinational mining conglomerates which viciously poison and destroy the environment while Indonesia’s special forces keep the indigenous people in check (i.e. rape, torture, imprisonment of dissenters, assassination of leaders, etc).
In August, fifty members of the US congress led by Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, presented a letter to President Obama urging him to
“make West Papua one of the highest priorities of the Administration.”
The letter coincided with a lift of a ten-year ban on cooperating with Indonesian special forces due to their repeated human rights violations in the region.
We urge those of you in the United States to contact your representatives and let them know you care about West Papua. There will never be a better chance than right now.
Note: Some of you may know, President Obama attended elementary school in Indonesia between the ages of 6 and 10. It is difficult to tell how this might influence his views of the region, but it’s something. And that’s more than most Papuans have known in their long quest for independence.