For more than 50 years West Papuans have suffered at the hands of the Indonesian colonial army while huge profits are extracted from the resource-laden land.
The indigenous peoples of West Papua are openly threatened, relocated, murdered, raped, denied basic rights & otherwise intimidated. Large multi-national corporations viciously rape the land for profit without regard for indigenous land rights or environmental preservation. Journalists are denied access, or killed, and freedom of speech is suppressed.
It wasn’t always like this.
During the 1950s, with assistance from the Netherlands and Australia, West Papua was moving towards independence. By 1961 the region had its own ‘Morning Star’ flag and selected its own representatives.
However in 1962, a conflict erupted between The Netherlands & Indonesia over West Papua, and it was feared Indonesia might seek Soviet support if not given control of the region. A controversial United Nations agreement gave the colony to Indonesia for six years, after which a referendum would allow the Papuans to determine their future.
What followed was a period highlighted by numerous, well-documented cases of military violence and human rights abuse.
The Bogus ‘Act of Free Choice’
When time came for the West Papuans to choose between Indonesian rule or independence, in what was called an ‘Act of Free Choice,’ only a thousand Papuans, out of a population of a million, were allowed to vote. They were threatened with torture by senior ranking military officials, and forced to remain part of Indonesia.
A UN official present at the vote issued a critical report citing ‘serious violations,’ but was ignored and the bogus referendum became law.
Since then, an estimated 100,000 Papuans have been killed; thousands have been raped and tortured; leaders have been assassinated; entire villages destroyed and whole tribes exterminated.
Human rights in West Papua is an issue whose time has come. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the ongoing and senseless suffering of the Papuan peoples.