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West Papua: Indonesia's Hi-jacking of the Melanesians' Rights

By Amunggut Tabi


This talk gives a brief explanation of West Papua's colonial and neo-colonial history; outlining answers to questions like: (1) "What is West Papua for Indonesia?" (2) "What is West Papua for the US?" (3) "Why is the case of West Papua being ignored by the world's governments?" (4) "What are the secret scenarios behind invasion and colonisation of West Papua?" (5) "What are West Papuans doing at the moment?", and (6) "What are the reactions of the world governments on West Papua case?"

It also addresses tribal views on various issues like law, human rights violations, environmental exploitation and cultural devaluation in West Papua.

Some Compelling Historical Evidence for a re-examination

Three European Nations Divided the Island into East and West Papua

Melanesians in West Papua regard three European nations (German, Britain and the Netherlands) hold responsibility for dividing up the island of New Guinea into East and West New Guinea, without any consultation with Melanesians. In about 1910, the eastern part of the island was divided into north-east and south-east. At the same time, the East New Guinea was handed to Australia and then PNG became an independent nation since September 1975. The Western part was known as the Dutch New Guinea then changed its name into West Irian, now Irian Jaya, and finally it will become West Papua (either West Papua as a province or as a country).

It is interesting to see how the island was cut with a straight line. It is clear that the division was mathematically calculated (exactly in the middle). This division then led to forming of PNG and West Papua with different colonial powers and currently with neo-colonialist Indonesia.

The Parties involved in the New York Agreement

The New York Agreement has violated the rights of people as human beings in West Papua. The agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands under the auspices of the US and the UN on August 15, 1962 is illegal and invalid because as Doris (1999) says, "the West Papuan people, were not party to this agreement; thus the New York Agreement was signed without their informed consent." Even though the fact is illegal, the UN approved and conducted what is known as "The Act of Free Choice" regarding the status of West Papua.

So far, the people of West Papua regard they have never made any choice either to integrate with Indonesia or to be free from colonialism. This is the only reason why the 100 team from West Papua have met Mr President, led by a Tribal Leader, Tom Beanal, demanding to regain their independence that was proclaimed on July 1st, 1970, but then neglected by the world powers.

An interesting question to ask here is this: "Why didn't they involve Melanesians in this agreement?"

The Implementation of "The Act of Free Choice"

Based on the "Illegal" New York Agreement, the "Act of Free Choice" was conducted where only 1,025 were selected to vote for Indonesia in 1969 (after 6 years of UN administration in the region). Further violation against the above "illegal" agreement happened on the way when Indonesia turned the basic principle of referendum "one-man one-vote" into what Javanese-principle of governance called "musyawarah untuk mufakat" (consensus for agreement). This means only some of the people (only 1,025) should be appointed to represent the whole population of 800,000. The 1,025 were appointed by the Indonesian military, not the people for whom they represented. This is why the native Papuans regard this event as "The Act of No Choice."

Two interesting question to ask here are these: "Why didn't the Indonesian army allow the Melanesians to elect their own representatives to the referendum, if they did not want to apply "One man one vote" principle?" "It was under the United Nations Administration, but why did the UN representatives express their concern about this shift of very basic UN principles of referendum?"

The United Nations Approved the Illegal Occupation of Indonesia

The UN as the most credible organisation in the world holds responsibility for approving illegal invasion and occupation of Indonesia on the people and the land of West Papua. The first reason is because Indonesia already violated the principle of the "Act of Free Choice" with approval of the UN.

In addition, regardless of some concerns shared by some nations, observers and journalists and the UN secretary-general representative to West Papua Mr. Fernando Ortiz-Sanz has said that the act was not conducted according to the agreement, the UN approved it. Below are some of the statements made by Mr. Ortiz-Sanz (a Bolivian diplomat):

"I regret to have to express my reservation regarding the implementation of article XXII of the Agreement, relating to the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area. In spite of my constant efforts, this important provision was not fully implemented and the Administration exercised at all times a tight political control over the population."

To this violation, Mark Doris (1999) says, "The General Assembly did not adopt, ratify or in any other way endorse this report of the proceedings by which 1,025 people voted in unsatisfactory circumstances. This is a crucial point: the General Assembly merely "took note" of the Secretary-Generals Report containing Mr. Ortiz-Sanz report on the conduct of the so-called Act of "Free" Choice. Taking note of a report means nothing in moral, legal or diplomatic terms. Taking note of Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia does not endorse the annexation."

An interesting question to ask here is this: "Why didn't the UN give comments or share concerns with Mr Ortiz-Sanz and observers who openly expressed their concerns about the act? Or "Why did the UN close its mind and not step further to clarify what actually happened on the ground?"

Recent Violations of Melanesians' Rights by International Community

Papuans have been brutally killed since early 1960s. It is estimated about 300,000 have lost their lives on the hands of Indonesian army (TNI). Most of men have died. Particularly in the highlands, there are many orphans and widows up till now. Most of the time, traditional weapons: bows and arrows always faced with the modern weapons, helicopter and jet fighters bought from Britain and the states.

Recently, further violations of the rights of the people in West Papua are still going on at the time I am talking in front of you all here. For example, precisely on May 9 1996, at 3pm local time, the Indonesian military (TNI) used a helicopter booked in the name of the ICRC to kill more than 15 civilians, destroy villages and crops of the villagers in Mapenduma. Women were raped, villagers were intimidated and tortured. Some disappeared. These cases have never been investigated by this credible organisation in the world. This is a further violation of our rights by one of the credible international organisations. (This is the only case that has even been opened to the world from hundreds of others that have been going on in the island of West New Guinea)

At the same time, the British SAS was regarded involved in the incident together with Dutch army. The SAS claims it was in an operation to release British hostages held by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) army. The SAS gave military assistance, mercenaries and were even involved in the act of murder against innocent civilians. However, the SAS and ICRC have denied these allegations so far. The only reason that we know so far is in order to avoid jeopardising future operations in the same area. However, in fact this action is now a public secret and it has definitely put further operations in jeopardy. Therefore, the reason is unacceptable.

Lately, the news of Papuan people being shot to death and intimidated, tortured, disappeared or raped is almost a daily food. The actions are escalating as Indonesia loses face from the defeat by the Timor Leste's Falintil in this historic year.

Another interesting question is: "Why can't the ICRC and the British SAS launch an investigation to find out the murder of innocent civilians, torture, rape and disappearance that have been reported by the Irian Jaya Human Rights Institute?"

West Papua People and Their Struggles

Armed Resistance

Armed resistance started in colonial time. The root of resistance can be traced back to the 1500s, from a movement in Biak Island against foreign colonialism. The people of Biak have proven themselves as a rebellious tribe to the colonial powers ever since.

In April 1964, a Biak gentleman called Penehas Awom formally declared an independent nation of West Papua. Since then, the armed struggle under the name of Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM — Free Papua Movement) started its fights. Up till now, it is really difficult for West Papua people to draw a clear line between people and the OPM; they have one mission, i.e. to get rid of Indonesia.

Diplomatic Efforts

Melanesian people are not victims. They know what is wrong and what is correct. They know who is wrong in relation to all their sufferings. They are fighting back, and they will never stop doing so until they get what they want to achieve. Diplomatic effort is in addition to the armed resistance. The first diplomatic effort in 1960s faced failure because Indonesia won the game to invade West Papua by the support of the US and the UN.

As a continuation of the efforts, many people have died. Two of them are Arnold Up and Thom Wanggai. Arnold is an anthropologist and musician, who was assassinated by Indonesian intelligence in 1984. While Mr. Wanggai was the first Papuan that obtained a Ph.D. in International Law. He was sentenced for 20 years in 1993, and died in prison two years afterwards.

Another effort was made on February 26, 1999, a team of 100 West Papuans went to Jakarta and met Mr BJ Habibie, the president of the Republic of Indonesia. The 100 team went to meet Hon. President to say a simple thing: "Give us back our independence that you robbed from our hands in 1969." They got no clear response to their demand of independence. His reply was, "Go back and reflect on the demand, because the reply to the demand is not easy,..." Historically, this event was significant for all people in West Papua.

In front of the Indonesian President, in front of the Chief of the armed force and other important ministers, Mr. Tom Beanal (The Head of Amungme Tribal Council) stoop up and said,
"I am standing here, on behalf of all people of West Papua, demanding Indonesia to give back our independence that was taken over by Indonesia since 1962."

This effort does not end there. There will be an international dialogue between the Indonesian government and the people of West Papua under auspices of international community, in particular to restore the reputation of the UN for its approval of an illegal invasion by Indonesia in 1960s.

The questions here are like: "Will the UN stand for the people, or the nation-state?" "Does the UN really stand for the human rights, including the rights of people from West Papua?" "How can the UN prove itself as a credible body on this planet, at least to the primitive, stone-age people of West Papua?"

Current Political Situation in West Papua

The Questions we need to ask here are: "Why can't the United States in particular and Indonesia stop exploiting West Papua? Or "Why do they neglect the voice of West Papuan people?"

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The Hidden Agenda Behind the whole Games in West Papua

Here are the secrets why the world community pretends to be blind and deaf. Melanesians in West Papua already know these reasons, and they are now fighting to regain their rights as human being on this planet earth. They are fighting with the whole nature and environment, against exploitative modern hands, with a mask or puppet called, "Indonesia."

Natural resources and Environmental Concerns

New Guinea Island is the place of 7% of the world's species of flora and fauna. Also it is the island of 22% of the world languages. It has the richest mineral resources at the moment such as gold, copper, oil/gas, timber, fishery and such. It is now estimated that only 75 to 80 percent of Irian Jaya's forest cover remains. The 1993 Bio-diversity Action Plan for Indonesia states that over 90 percent forest cover still remains. Below is a quote from an article: Irian Jaya Leads in Its Bio-diversity:

"Irian Jaya (sic) still provides a rare opportunity to apply the difficult environmental lessons we have learned, ... located in the western half of the Indonesian archipelago (sic), is perhaps the biologically richest and most diverse assemblage of the ecosystem in the tropical Pacific. In the towering treetops and tangles of vines, the sloth waits for the cover of night to dine on flowers and leaves. The forest also is home to a unique array of plant and animal species including birds of paradise, birdwing butterflies, tree kangaroos, cuscus, orchids, Araucaria trees and rhododendrons. ... a new calculation indicates that Irian Jaya may have at least 20,000 - 25,000 species of vascular plants. This number is significantly higher than previously estimated. Furthermore with at least 164 species of mammals, 329 reptiles and amphibians, some 650 birds, about 250 freshwater and 1,200 marine fishes, an estimated 150,000 insects and many hundreds of other freshwater and marine invertebrates, the island contains nearly one half of Indonesia's total bio-diversity. As the country's last great rainforest wilderness, Irian Jaya provides a critical opportunity and challenge for planning sustainable development and conservation initiatives."

Freeport MacMoRan, Inc. is the most responsible company in West Papua that exploits the environment and the people since 1960s. It has completed its first 50-year contract. And now it started the second 50-year contract (Phase II) where the Anglo-American Rio Tinto Zinc and AMRO Bank injected their shares to continue operations in the area.

Other companies such as Shell and some Asian companies are now active in gas and oil exploitation in the area. Some operations are going on, and some are just started.

Logging companies, owned by the army (TNI) are now clearing the forests very rapidly and the destruction they have created is significant.

Siemens (a german company) and Mamberamo Pty Ltd. (Australian) are now starting their destructive effort to destroy the whole population of Mamebarmo by building a big dam in the Mamberamo River (Tariku). At least 6 tribes will be moved out from the area, and more than 5,000 new families will be transmigrated from over populated islands like Java and Bali. The dam will produce hydro electrical power for housing and for processing silver, gold and copper produced by mining operations in Timika region.

[A link to our corporate factsheet will be added here as soon as it is done.]

If we allow these kinds of activities to continue, this generation will not see any original tropical forests, animals and even human beings. All will vanish in at least 100 years from now. Of course, some modern people will deliberately make it happen.

West Papua environmental foundation (YALI), Indonesian environmental foundation (WALHI), American environmental foundation (Rivers International), and others have put pressure on Indonesia to stop destroying the island and its people.

The questions here are: "Why do these parties behave like working without eyes, hearts, ears?" " Why can't they listen to the protests and concerns?" " When will they say, " What can I do for you, tribal people'?"

The People of West Papua

The New Guinea Island had contact with outsiders since 1511 and the Dutch established a formal administration on the island (together with British and Germany on the East New Guinea) in about the 18th century. However in the highlands, contact with outside world started only in the early 1960s. In other words, for the highlanders, the current generation is the first generation that had contact with outsiders.

The Moslem Papuans in Fak-Fak region, animists in Mamberamo region, Catholic in the South and Protestants in the central and northern regions share the same perspectives and attitudes against the destruction caused by the Western companies and governments under the support from Indonesia.

It has about 245 different tribes (languages) and it was said that the island has some tribes still un-contacted up till now. (Those do-gooders and churches, hand-in-hand with the army, are now working to make contacts with these remaining tribes). Geographically, the villages are located in small and separated valleys. There is no single road connecting the villages. Geographically, villages are separated from one with the other. The East Timorese have their national language, not Indonesian, which West Papuans do not have. Therefore, it had been easier to co-ordinate the resistance in East Timor.

Compared to East Timor, West Papua has not got enough people who are well educated and who can speak English. The contact between villages is rare and this gives brilliant opportunity for the oppressor to manipulate the people.

Portugal government has been supporting East Timor's case since the Indonesian invasion. This has never happened on the Dutch side concerning West Papua as its previous colony. To get the official support from the Dutch, on November 16, 1999, the West Papua People's Front (PaVo), based in Holland will launch a campaign asking for the recognition of Papuans' struggle to be free from Indonesia. A good result is unlikely.

The questions here are: "Why are there almost no West Papua people around here in the UK?" "Why can't West Papua people speak out strongly, widely and openly like East Timorese had been doing?"

Political and Economic Interests of the US and Indonesia

It was during the cold war that the United States' politicians supported Indonesia to take over West Papua. At the time, the US was at war with Vietnam, and realised it was losing. They didn't want communism to gain power anywhere else in the region, so they supported anyone who could stop the communists. That is why they supported the Suharto regime's invasion of West Papua and East Timor.

With the Dutch in control, the USA had no access to the vast resources in West Papua. When Holland was preparing West Papua for independence, The US saw that this would still leave it under Dutch influence, so they supported Indonesia instead, as they were already 'good friends'. The US foreign minister of the time, Henry Kissinger, is now an executive of Freeport, 'earning' $600,000 per year.

It is obvious that the states and its American people have their vested interest on the handing over of West Papua to Indonesia. Up till now, their silence on the sufferings of West Papua people also indicates they are more concerned about "profits" that they can get from exploitations in West Papua rather than the people and their cry for help. The harmonious relationship between the states and Indonesia started since 1950s, when the CIA was supporting Suharto (second Indonesian president) to come to power in Indonesia as the second president. Both of them are like husbands and wife, one cannot turn down the other because of the deaths of West Papua people or the destruction of the environment in the area.

The Systematic Approaches for Obliteration of a People

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Some Wisdom of West Papua Tribal Perspective

Here are some positive aspects of being a tribal person that I myself found in my life. They may be different from one tribe to the others and from one person to the others as well. These are some contradictory views between modern community and tribal community in West Papua.

Live in harmony and peace with other beings

In our traditional way, environments and human beings are not two separate parties. They are one. All are seen as beings that should live in harmony and peace.

Tribal People in West Papua Refuse "Planned Development"

A modern man will say, "Grab the future now!" To grab it, "Plan the future now!" After planning it, "Make sure all things go as the plans!" If not, "Assess why!" If you find out the problem, "Solve it and do better in the next operation!" If the problem still exists, "Destroy it!" by bombing, by intelligence work, or whatever ways as possible.

However, a tribal person will argue "Accept the present, enjoy it, now!" The future is as important as today, but today is more important because you here and now. "Accept what you have now and here and enjoy it!" If Tigers are wild, let them be wild. If a lake contains a lot of fish, let it be so, so that we can have them if we want. No developments based on plans: Long term or short term plans.

The futuristic view has led modern society to expecting hell and heaven that has never come up till now. Expecting and fighting for a better future have become the characteristics of modern society. Tribal society is saying, "Accept what you have now and enjoy it as much as you want, now and here!" Tomorrow has its joy and happiness.

Please remember, the modern society itself has not yet reached the goal it wants or wanted to achieve. Come to London, come to New York. Everyday, development goes on. There is almost no time without development. Development and modern community are like blood and flesh. One cannot live without the other. Tribal people are asking, "Where do you want to lead us, Make?" "Where are we heading to?" If modern communities are still developing, why should they come to tribal people and ask them to agree with development which they themselves are not sure what they are doing? We need to stop and reflect.

Questions for the government will be: "Why do governments plan developments?" "Why can't they accept the natural developments?" "Do they realise the impacts of their planned developments?"

Tribal People in West Papua Do Not Like Modern Life

Modern life is characterised by dependent on money. This is what tribal people do not like. Tribal people see money as Satan, as described in the Holy Scriptures of any religion. Once you become dependent on it, you cannot get rid of it, you will always need it and you will never avoid wanting it. Without it you will die, for sure. Tribal people live without modern money that makes it possible for capitalists to absorb all resources that are owned by the nature: plants, animals, humans and the lands.

Modern life is characterised by individualism; a nation consists of individuals. Tribal life sees humans as social beings. These are two contradicticve views that all humans need to reflect upon. Are you individuals or social? In tribal way, one action is always taken by considering the whole society. It is not like in modern society where only a group of people plan and act against common wills for the sake of their political and economic gainings. Human beings are devalued in modern society when profits become the aim of all things they do. This is one of the reasons why this world has started to die and will completely die soon. A simple example is this. When modern people sit on the bus or train side-by-side with another human being, "What is the situation?" Do they great each other? Do they communicate, just with their body language? Do they care each other? What I have experienced is a weird condition here. People come into the bus/train. Sit down. Pull out paper/book. Read. Music on the ears, books on the eyes. They say, "I am here as I am. I am individual. I am sitting here as I am. I do not care who is beside me, because I am, I am and that is all." This the context by which allows the capitalists to say, "I am, I am, and I do not care others" Tribal people are not surprised by how modern community is organised and how common people suffer in theri lives. If you come to tribal community, you will see a reverse situation. Everybody greets each other. If not, they smile to each other. They shake hands. They feel, "We are all human beings."

Modern life is characterised by consumerism, while tribal society live in self-sufficient way. Just think about this: The Prime Ministers do not plant thei foods in the gardens/farms. For examples: There is no potato garden at the 10 Downing Street, Westminster. There is no farm in the White House yard. Most of the employees and employers in public and private sectors do not grow food. They spend all their time in offices. They always work with paper, computers, pens and cars. What do they eat and drink? None of those in offices is edible. What is the point working in offices that do not produce foods and drinks? This is modern life, anyway. You cannot avoid it. Farmers and normal people should grow foods for those in offices. They show themselves as intelligent, they are well dressed, travel in cars and use mobile phones. What do they eat? Foods and drinks from farms. Then why should they work in one place and consume from a different place? What happened with the concept of city and modern civilisation?

Modern life is characterised by exploitative behaviours. Trees are cleared up. Mountains become valleys. Lakes become settlements. Valleys become dams for hydro-electrical and irrigation. Natural resources are taken in massive amount. There is no consideration of resources that we should leave for our future generations. Where do they bring these all that they exploit? Do not forget, they bring all to their offices from which they do not get anything from, except "power" that they find it useful to kill others. If we calculate the destruction of this earth, a large amount of it happened since the industrial and agricultural revolutions. Modern communities are greedy in their pursuit of goods and wealth. For thousands of years, tribal people have lived and maintained the ecology and bio-diversity very well. Why do we regard them as primitive? Primitive in what sense? Stone-age? Stone-age in what perspective? Tribal? Tribal in what perspective? Illiterate? Illiterate in what knowledge?

Another word for "modern" is "complexity" and the synonym of "tribalism" is "simple." In tribal community, "What you see is what it is"\", while in modern society, "What you can see can be what it is." Take a simple example: If I meet someone on the bus and very well dressed up, it does not mean her/his mind is "very well dressed up." Another example, if I want to eat "Fish and Chips", I need some one a farmer who owns the farm-land, someone who plants the potato, someone who sells the potato to shops, someone who owns the shops, someone who sells in the shop, someone who buys the potato, someone who fry the potato, someone who sells it. Similar channels apply to the process to get fish. I also have to go to the "shop" to buy it. I must go by bus or car. The car is made by more complicated processes, so as bus. To go to the shop, I must wear clothes, shoes. I must obey traffic regulations. In short, it is not that simple to live in modern world. Come and experience the tribal life. You will breath, eat, drink, sleep, and reproduce almost free of charge. That is all about tribalism. How dare we want to change it!

Tribal People in West Papua question the role of Religious Organisations and NGOs

The role of religious organisations in tribal community in the world is interestingly the same as the role of NGOs. The first reason is because they both claim "We have good news for you!" They deliver their messages of "better life", "better methods", "better belief system" and such. The second reason is because the belief of which one better or worse is judged by one-sided view, the modern community. This means, modern communities always believe they are correct and better. They impose their beliefs to tribal people. Those who refuse or question them are regarded as rebellious groups.

While the religious organisations put pressure on tribal people to "forgive their killers" on the altars, the NGOs deliberately expose their programmes that cause more problems in their life. They expose new farming systems, new seeds, new staple foods, new medicines, new technologies, new culture, new doctrines. All these "news" will eventually kill what the tribal people inherit from their ancestors.

Both NGOs and religious organisations are the most responsible organisations in the tribal world history. They have practised the genocide of tribal culture, tribal system, and tribal belief. Under the umbrella of "developments", they justify the genocide. Under the umbrella of "aids", they justify their assistance. It is important to remember that for the beginning of the whole history, there has had been no tribal person ever come to the modern society asking for aids, developments, democracy, and such. All these are exposed to the tribal community by the modern society.

The final questions of tribal people will be: "Why do you plan development?" Where will you finally say, 'We have developed our countries' and have a rest from development activities?" If the modern community has not yet reached the final goal of what they call 'development', then why should they impose their 'development' on us?" "Why can't they just work in their countries to reach their goals?" Why haven't they been in heaven even though they have been preaching about hell and heaven?" "Why can't they make their own people repent from their sins?" "Why do they impose their doctrines to tribal people, but not to their own modern people?"

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Conclusions and Requests

West Papua People Declare War against our Four Enemies

Request for Actions

All West Papuans are now asking British community to act on the following issues:

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West Papua Background

The New Guinea Island was known by the West in 1511. Because the people were similar to those in African Guinea, they called the island New Guinea. Afterwards, many people from the West used to live there, including Columbus. Christianity started officially in February 1558 when two German missionaries (known as the Apostles of Papuans), Ottow and Geissler stepped on the New Guinea land and declared, "In the name of the Lord, we step on this land."

In 1883 the island of New Guinea was partitioned by three Western powers, the Dutch claiming the western half, while the Germans and British divided the eastern half into German New Guinea in the north and British Papua in the south.

The Republic of Indonesia was created in 1949 when The Netherlands granted independence to the colonised peoples of the former Dutch East Indies. West New Guinea however, due to its distinct Melanesian population and cultural characteristics, was retained as a colony by the Dutch and during the 1950s the Dutch government prepared the territory for independence. President Sukarno meanwhile consistently maintained Indonesia's claim to all former territory of the Dutch, and when his demands were not met, armed conflict ensued from 1962.

Under pressure from the United States to come to terms with Indonesia, the Dutch agreed to secret negotiations. In August 1962 an agreement was concluded in New York between the Netherlands and Indonesia, under which the Dutch were to leave West New Guinea and transfer sovereignty to UNTEA (the United Nations Temporary

Executive Authority), for a period of six years until a national vote was to be conducted to determine Papuan preference for independence, or integration with Indonesia.

Almost immediately however, Indonesia took over the administration from UNTEA, and the oppression of the West Papuan people intensified. A sham referendum was held in 1969, and the UN sanctioned a vote by 1025 handpicked electors, coerced into unanimously choosing to "remain with Indonesia".

The UN Representative sent to observe the election process produced a report which outlined various and serious violations of the New York Agreement. In spite of the "duly noted" report and in spite also of testimonials from the press, the opposition of fifteen countries and the cries of help and justice from the Papuans themselves, West Irian was handed over to Indonesia in November

1969. The inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, across the border, achieved full independence in 1975.

Statement by West Papuan Independence advocates West Papuans are living under Indonesian Military Control and are experiencing ongoing political oppression. Immigration of a great number of Indonesians to West Papua have deprived us of our rights and freedom. We will soon be a minority in our own land.

The massive exploitation of the natural and mineral resources, aggressive repression of our human dignity and continuous environmental destruction by foreign and Indonesian interests have deprived West Papuans of our rights to live freely and independently.

Our indigenous culture is being systematically destroyed. This includes all our unique cultural practises, languages, and livelihoods that are in complete contrast to Indonesian (Javanese) culture. We are deeply concerned that the cultural ethnocide is still continuing and being intensified day by day. We are a nation 'non-gratis'. We are not recognised by one United Nations member country yet this completely contravenes the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which," exists to affirm the fundamental importance of the self determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural rights."

The United Nations refusal to recognise us West Papuans as a colonised indigenous people has rendered West Papuans 'rightless' under the rule of Indonesia.

The Indonesian government continues to violate the basic human rights of West Papuans. Thousands of West Papuans are deprived of their land, hundreds are detained and currently imprisoned without trial, and many have been killed by the Indonesian Army. It is estimated that 30,000 West Papuans have died fighting for independence.

A recent testimony to this is the massacre of 22 civilians and 15 alleged guerrillas who were killed or "disappeared" by the Indonesian army, aided by security forces employed by the Freeport MacMoRan mine. Others were arbitrarily beaten, arrested, tortured, had their houses burned and gardens destroyed and were forced to flee into the jungle.

The villagers- members of the Amungme, Lani and other West Papuan indigenous peoples- were with members of the OPM West Papuan Liberation movement and were demonstrating in opposition to the expansion of Freeport's huge copper and gold mine at Tembagpura. The mine in the rugged Grasberg mountains, is already the biggest in Indonesia and one of the largest in the world. The OPM have been waging low level guerrilla resistance against Indonesia since the much condemned "Act of Free Choice" in 1969. The alleged abuses are the latest in a history of bad relations between Freeport and the local Amungme people whose lands were appropriated when the mine commenced in 1967. Recently the Indonesian government announced plans to relocate 2,000 people away from the mine area in an attempt to lure further British-Australian and American mining interests.

Already the Freeport MacMoRan consortium's operation, dumps around 110,000 tonnes of mining waste into the Aykwa River every day. The river is biologically dead as are the trees on its banks. The Amungme as a result of their relocation to lowlands areas have largely contracted malaria, a disease that did not affect them in their original Highlands home.

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Budiardjo, C. & Liong, CC. 1988 West Papua: The Obliteration of a People. TAPOL.
Davis, M. 1999 Blood on the Cross. BBC (video)
Lunn, H. How the West was Lost, Sydney Morning Herald?, Australia
Osborne, 1983 The War of the Forgotten World, Australia.
Von Planta, 1993 Savage Strikes Back, BBC4 (video)
Wewo, W. 1999 Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing, Oxford.

Useful Web addresses:

(A useful and the only page that shows regional commanders of the OPM armed force and their messages directly from the jungle of West Papua. They really would like to talk directly to the modern community about what they are doing and why. This is their message for the global community.)

(A page that is useful for students to explore historical and cultural backgrounds of the struggle in West Papua)

OPM Homepage > Resources