Indonesia’s occupation & repression must end
London, UK – 15 August 2018
2 August 2018 was the 49th anniversary of the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’, which was the violation of international law that handed control of West Papua over to Indonesia in 1969, without the consent of the indigenous Melanesian people. Ever since, West Papuans have been subjected to neo-colonial occupation by Indonesia and exploitation by western multinationals; often enforced by mass repression, displacement and killings. Around 500,000 West Papuans are believed to have died in what many commentators have described as a slow genocide.
This year, public actions were held on 2 August across the globe in the Netherlands, UK, Australia, Indonesia, and on the ground inside West Papua.
15 August is the anniversary of the New York Agreement, or “Day of Broken Promise” as it is called by the West Papuan people. On this day in 1962, Indonesia and the Netherlands signed the New York Agreement, overseen and approved by the UN, promising a true act of self-determination to the people of West Papua. This has never been delivered.
To highlight this great betrayal, global actions will take place around the world and, at great risk of arrest and violence, inside West Papua.
In response to the growing momentum of public action for West Papua’s freedom, Indonesia’s Security Minister and indicted war criminal, General Wiranto, referred to protests by pro-independence groups as being separatist.
“It’s a small separatist movement but by methods such as this (they) want to get world attention,” he said from his Jakarta office this week. Wiranto, a retired commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, who is personally responsible for executing massacres in West Papua and East Timor, also referred to peaceful protests as “threats” and said the public action of Papuan pro-independence groups were just the “same old song.”
West Papuans do not have time to wait. With each passing year their situation becomes more urgent. Since the Act of Free Choice, the Melanesian percentage of the population of West Papua has declined from 99% to 47%, with an estimated half a million men, women, and children shot, poisoned, exiled, starved, and disappeared. The Papuan population growth rate is now at an alarming 1.84%, while the growth rate of Indonesian transmigrants (resettled in West Papua to overwhelm the indigenous peoples) is currently at 10.8% and climbing. They will eventually become a minority in their own land, which is Indonesia’s grand plan.
Just last year 1.8 million indigenous West Papuans (70% of the Melanesian population in West Papua) risked their lives to secretly sign a petition calling on the United Nations to hold the internationally supervised vote on self-determination that has been denied to them since 1962.
Because foreign journalists and human rights NGOs are banned from West Papua, public support remains crucial to ensure Papuans are no longer isolated. International pressure and global awareness help keep the Melanesian people of West Papua safe. Indonesian security forces can no longer outright massacre peaceful protesters under a shroud of secrecy as they did in Paniai, Biak, and also many times over during their terrorist reign of East Timor. The Indonesian government knows their human rights violations only strengthen the case for independence and remain difficult to deny or justify in the face of regular exposes.
Jakarta may downplay the impact of global support for West Papua’s freedom, but the truth is they are well aware the world is watching and go to great lengths to discredit the independence movement. As a result of increasing publicity and protest, officials like General Wiranto can no longer continue to blatantly murder West Papuans with complete impunity. As West Papuans see increasing evidence of worldwide support for their cause, the more their courage to demand their freedom grows. They now know they do not stand alone when they put themselves and their families at great risk to by speaking out and telling their truth about the Indonesian occupation.
If you would like to find out more about supporting West Papua, please go to www.freewestpapua.org for more information.
For more information on global demonstrations for West Papua during 2018, please follow the link