The flag of West Papua, the Morning Star; hoisting or flying this flag in West Papua means life imprisonment or death!
The following is a collection of articles dealing with the take over of West Papua by Indonesia.
Indonesias 1969 Takeover of West Papua Not by "Free Choice"
Document Release Marks 35th Anniversary of Controversial Vote and Annexation. Secret Files Show U.S. Support for Indonesia, Human Rights Abuses by Indonesian Military:
Posted July 9, 2004
Washington, D.C.; July 8, 2004, "You should tell Suharto that we understand the problems they face in West Irian," national security adviser Henry Kissinger wrote President Nixon on the eve of Nixons July, 1969, visit to Indonesia. On the 35th anniversary of the West Papua so-called "Act of Free Choice" and Indonesias first direct presidential elections, the National Security Archive posted recently declassified documents on U.S. policy deliberations leading to Indonesias controversial 1969 annexation of the territory. The documents detail United States support for Indonesias heavy handed takeover of West Papua despite overwhelming Papuan opposition and United Nations requirements for genuine self-determination.
When Indonesia gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1949, the Dutch government retained control over the territory of West New Guinea. From 1949 until 1961 the Indonesian government sought to "recover" West New Guinea (later known as West Irian or West Papua), arguing that the territory, a part of the former Netherlands East Indies, rightfully belonged with Indonesia.
In late 1961, after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to secure its goals through the United Nations, Indonesias President Sukarno declared a military mobilization and threatened to invade West New Guinea and annex it by force. The Kennedy administration, fearing that U.S. opposition to Indonesian demands might push the country toward Communism, sponsored talks between the Netherlands and Indonesia in the spring of 1962. Negotiations took place under the shadow of ongoing Indonesian military incursions into West New Guinea and the threat of an Indonesian invasion.
The U.S. sponsored talks led to the August 1962, New York Agreement, which awarded Indonesia control of West New Guinea (which it promptly renamed West Irian) after a brief transitional period overseen by the UN. The agreement obligated Jakarta to conduct an election on self-determination with UN assistance no later than 1969. Once in control, however, Indonesia quickly moved to repress political dissent by groups demanding outright independence for the territory.
U.S. officials understood at the outset that Indonesia would never allow West Irian to become independent and that it was unlikely to ever allow a meaningful act of self-determination to take place. The Johnson and Nixon administrations were equally reluctant to challenge Indonesian control over West Irian, especially after the conservative anti-Communist regime of General Suharto took over in 1966 following an abortive coup attempt which led to the slaughter of an estimated 500,000 alleged Communists. Suharto quickly moved to liberalize the Indonesian economy and open it to the West, passing a new foreign investment law in late 1967. The first company to take advantage of the law was the American mining company Freeport Sulphur, which gained concessions to vast tracts of land in West Irian containing gold and copper reserves. Over six weeks from July to August 1969, U.N. officials conducted the so-called "Act of Free Choice." Under the articles of the New York Agreement (Article 18) all adult Papuans had the right to participate in an act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice. Instead, Indonesian authorities selected 1022 West Papuans to vote publicly and unanimously in favor of integration with Indonesia.
Despite significant evidence that Indonesia had failed to meet its international obligations, in November 1969 the United Nations "took note" of the "Act of Free Choice" and its results, thereby lending support of the world body to Indonesias annexation. Thirty-five years later, as Indonesia holds its first-ever direct Presidential elections, the international community has come to question the validity of Jakartas takeover of West Papua and the ongoing human rights abuses there. In March, 88 members of the Irish Parliament urged United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to review the United Nations role in the 1969 Act of Free Choice, joining South African Archibishop Desmond Tutu and scores of non-governmental organizations and European Parliamentarians. On June 28, 2004, nineteen U.S. Senators sent a letter to Annan urging the appointment of a Special Representative to Indonesia to monitor the human rights situation in West Papua and the territory of Aceh.
The Archives postings include a confidential February 1968 cable from U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green. Following a conversation with Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik about the situation in West Irian, Green concluded that conditions in the territory are "far from satisfactory and deteriorating." A subsequent cable reported that Indonesia is "belatedly and almost desperately seeking to develop support among the peoples of West Irian" for the "Act of Free Choice."
A consular trip to West Irian in early 1968 observed that "the Indonesian government directs its main efforts" in the territory to "maintaining existing political facilities and suppressing political dissent." Because of neglect, corruption and repression at the hands of Indonesian authorities, Western observers agreed almost unanimously that "Indonesia could not win an open election" and that the vast majority of West Irian inhabitants favored independence.
In July of 1968 the UN-appointed Ambassador Fernando Ortiz Sanz arrived in Jakarta as the Secretary Generals Special Representative for assisting Indonesia with the West Irian plebiscite, as called for by the 1962 New York Agreement.
A confidential cable from the U.S. Embassy to the State Department outlined the stakes in the upcoming Act of Free Choice. While cautioning that the U.S. government "should not become directly involved in this issue," Ambassador Green worried that Ortiz Sanz or other UN members might "hold out for free and direct elections" in West Irian, frustrating Indonesias intention to retain the territory at all costs. Consequently, U.S. and other Western officials worried about the need to meet with Ortiz Sanz to “make him aware of political realities.” In a confidential October 1968 Airgram the U.S. Embassy reported with relief that Ortiz now "concedes that it would be inconceivable from the point of view of the interest of the U.N., as well as the GOI, that a result other than the continuance of West Irian within Indonesian sovereignty should emerge."
The Indonesian government firmly rejected the possibility of a one-person, one-vote plebiscite in West Irian, insisting instead on a series of local consultations with just over 1,000 hand selected tribal leaders (out of an estimated population of 800,000), conducted in July 1969 with between 6,000-10,000 Indonesian troops spread throughout the territory. As the U.S. Embassy put it in a July 1969 telegram: "The Act of Free Choice (AFC) in West Irian is unfolding like a Greek tragedy, the conclusion preordained. The main protagonist, the GOI, cannot and will not permit any resolution other than the continued inclusion of West Irian in Indonesia. Dissident activity is likely to increase but the Indonesian armed forces will be able to contain and, if necessary, suppress it." Ambassador Frank Galbraith noted on July 9, 1969 that past abuses had stimulated intense anti-Indonesian and pro-independence sentiment at all levels of Irian society, suggesting that possibly 85 to 90% of the population are in sympathy with the Free Papua cause. Moreover, Galbraith observed, recent Indonesian military operations, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands of civilians, had stimulated fears and rumours of intended genocide among the Irianese.
President Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger visited Jakarta in July 1969 while the Act of Free Choice was underway. Improving relations with Indonesias authoritarian regime was clearly uppermost in the mind of Kissinger, who characterized Suharto as a moderate military man … committed to progress and reform. In Nixons secret briefing papers (Document 9 and Document 10) for the visit Kissinger flatly told the President "you should not raise this issue" of West Irian and argued "we should avoid any U.S. identification with that act." The White House generally held to this position throughout the period preceding and following the Act of Free Choice. Although they recognized the deep flaws in the Act and in Indonesias intentions, U.S. officials were not interested in creating any problems for a Suharto regime they saw as nonaligned but pro-Washington. While the U.S. was unwilling to actively intervene on Indonesia’s behalf (an action they thought unnecessary and counterproductive) at the UN to insure quick General Assembly acceptance of Indonesia’s formal takeover of West Papua, the U.S. quietly signaled that it was uninterested in a lengthy debate over an issue it viewed as a foregone conclusion and marginal to U.S. interests. In a secret briefing memo for a meeting with Indonesias Ambassador to the United States Soedjakmoto, a State Department official expressed confidence that international criticism of the Act of Free Choice would quickly fade, allowing the Nixon Administration to move forward with its plans for forging closer military and economic ties with the authoritarian regime in Jakarta.
Australia and West Papua
West Papua is a Melanesian nation in waiting, currently occupied by Indonesia, who gained sovereignty of the former Dutch colony after a widely condemned and fraudulent referendum known as the 1969 Act of Free Choice. West Papuans, bristling with righteous indignation, call it the "Act of No Choice". It is not hard to understand why. The Indonesian government advised and assisted by the United Nations, who participated and sanctioned the process, press-ganged 1,022 tribal elders, less than 1% of the population, to vote on the question of independence or integration. In reality there was no vote. An Indonesian general spoke. This was followed by a few rehearsed speeches welcoming Indonesia. Finally every single participant raised his hands in support, before the whole sorry stage-managed circus moved on to the next venue.
The terms of the Act of Free Choice were set down in the 1962 New York Agreement which stipulated that all parties, the Dutch, Indonesia and the United Nations, had to fully guarantee the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and assembly of the Papuans. In addition, the New York Agreement specified that all adult Papuans had the right to participate in act of self-determination in accordance with international practice. Tragically the international communities actively choose to stand aside as in West Papuan fundamental democratic and human rights were violated. This still appears to be of little concern to international elites. One British diplomat at the time explained the betrayal of the international community with the words: "I cannot imagine the U.S, Japanese, Dutch, or Australian governments, putting at risk their economic and political relations with Indonesia over a matter of principle involving a relatively small number of very primitive people." The United Nations undersecretary at the time, C.V. Narasimhan, whose key responsibility was to oversee the implementation of the New York Agreement, recently said that the Act of Free Choice "was just a whitewash. The mood at the UN was to get rid of this problem as quickly as possible....nobody gave a thought to the fact that a million people had their fundamental rights trampled."
Every single West Papuan in both remote villages and in the cities and towns, feels that the international community simply abandoned West Papua. The colonial apparatus remained. White colonists walked away and brown colonists walked in.
In remote villages in West Papua people re-tell the history and ask how many pigs they have to kill before the UN comes back. Back in the highland village, an elder hops up to speak. "I am old" he says, "but I want my children to know freedom". He tells how in 1978 and 1979 his peers were rounded up by the Indonesian military, herded into helicopters and dropped into the Baliem River. "The river flowed red with the blood of my people" he says. The exercise was called Operasi Koteka. Koteka in Bahasa Indonesia means tail. Its racist connotation is that those who wear it are barely an evolutionary step from monkeys. One of the purposes of Operasi Koteka was to advance the Dani on the road to civilization by persuading them to give up wearing the penis gourd and to don western clothes. Visibly pained, the old man continues speaking: "the same thing is still happening now. All around us sadistic killings are taking place. Are we animals or are we human beings?" The old man sits down. He is wearing a penis gourd. Jakartas determination to continue to hold West Papua (formerly called Irian Jaya) is propped up in Australian diplomatic circles by what has been increasingly known as the "Jakarta lobby". Characterised by pragmatic policy goals driven by a desire to advance Australias national interest in Indonesia, the Australian government, both Labour and Liberal, continually uphold the mantra of Indonesias territorial integrity. The problem for Jakarta is that what is understood as the "national interest" continually shifts. Still smarting from Australian lead foreign intervention in East Timor, many Indonesian military officers, political elites, and intellectuals, do not trust the Australian governments intentions towards West Papua and fear the rise of popular support taking root. Many Indonesians seriously believe that the Australian governments number one foreign policy goal in relation to Indonesia is to support independence in West Papua: after all the Australian government changed its policy over East Timor, why not West Papua? Certainly during the 1950s, the Robert Menzies government leaned towards supporting self-rule in West Papua. In 1957 they signed a joint treaty with the Dutch pledging economic and political cooperation on both halves of the island, with the view to eventual unification. By 1969, however, the Australian government had undertaken a 180 degree policy turn round. Championing West Papuas integration with Indonesia, Australian authorities in Papua New Guinea were cracking down on West Papuan dissidents and refugees.
According to government documents now released, during the 1960s the Australian government assisted Indonesian military operations with information, training and technology to wipeout the pro-independence movement in West Papua. Reports of gross human rights violations were repressed by the Australians and Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea were ordered to send refugees back, at gunpoint if necessary. In 1968, Gordon Jokel, the Australian ambassador to Indonesia at the time, and John Gorton, the Prime Minister, even went as far as carrying out a request from Adam Malik, Indonesias foreign minister, to arrest and jail West Papuan pro-independence democrats, Wim Zongganau and Clemens Runawery. Running from the Indonesian military, the pair fled into Papua New Guinea. From PNG they organised to make their way to the United Nations to alert the world to the travesty of justice that was taking place. As they climbed aboard the plane ready to leave Manus Island for New York, an Australian government car pulled up and an "authoritarian type" ordered the two men down. ASIO interviewed them, then "they put us in jail" said Mr. Zonggonau. Those West Papuans that did participate in the Act of Free Choice were "indoctrinated by military officers and told that if they did not vote for Indonesia they would have their tongues cut out" said Mr. Zongganau, who now lives in exile in Papua New Guinea. Following the Act of Free Choice, the Australian government continued to work hard to kill West Papuans dreams of freedom. In the lead up to the United Nations General Assembly meeting to discuss the results of the Act of Free Choice, Australian officials lobbied hard to silence several countries, such as Malta and several West African Nations, that raised concerns about the conduct of the vote. Today, Australias Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, goes to great length to "reaffirm to the Indonesians, the Australian commitment to Indonesias territorial integrity." At a recent ministerial meeting with Indonesian officials, Downer "made the point that we strongly support Irian Jaya remaining part of Indonesia, we don't give any comfort to those who seek independence of Irian Jaya".
Indonesian leader, Megawati Sukarnoputri, tackled resistance in West Papua through brutal repression, covert military operations and the division of Papua into three provinces, a move that has generated intense anger amongst Papuans. This presidential instruction to divide Papua directly contradicts Jakartas prior Special Autonomy policy in the restive province. The cornerstone of Special Autonomy is an Indigenous Upper House known as the Majelis Rakyat Papua, mandated, amongst other things, to approve or reject any moves to divide Papua. The division of Papua, however, has proceeded without the MRP being established. Human Rights activists in the territories leading human rights NGO, the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in West Papua, believe Megawatis move was a blatant attempt to "divide and rule". The Australian government wholeheartedly supported Special Autonomy because it allowed them to sidestep the issue of independence, but have been largely silent over the division of West Papua. But the Australian government is actively involved in West Papua, not on behalf of the aspirations of the people of West Papua, but to advance the concerns of Australian corporations. During the last few years the Australian ambassador in Jakarta met regularly with several Indonesian ministers and public servants on behalf of BHP Billiton to assist the company to open a nickel mine on Gag Island in West Papua. A key purpose of the meeting was to lobby Indonesian officials to overturn progressive environmental legislation protecting Gag Island and its fragile environment from open pit mining. BHP Billiton has so far failed to consult neighbouring island communities who will be effected by the mine, refused to rule out contracting the Indonesian military to provide security, and in apparent disregard of the areas world heritage values, is proposing to dump toxic tailings into the ocean. In other words, the Australian government will obstruct and deny the West Papuan peoples legitimate right for self-determination on the one hand, but actively support corporations to maximise profit at the expense of the environment and local West Papuan communities on the other. West Papuans are well aware of the irony: self-determination for big business, and the obstruction of self-determination for indigenous communities living under the gun. But largest and most destructive mining operation in West Papua is a gargantuan gold and copper mine near the troubled town of Timika. The Freeport mine is owned by U.S Company, Freeport McMoRan. Its largest partner is Anglo Australian giant, Rio Tinto, a company that is trying to paint itself as the leader in world best mining practice. Local West Papuan leader Chief Tuarek Narkime has confronted Freeport/Rio Tinto over its environmental and human rights record. Addressing the company in December 1994, he cursed the lands mineral wealth and the suffering it had brought: "Gentlemen I am angry with God. Why has He created such beautiful mountains, valleys and rivers, rich with minerals and placed us, the indigenous peoples, here in this place that attracts people from around the world to come, exploit our resources and kill us?"
The Secret War Against The Defenseless People Of West Papua
By John Pilger, 09/03/06
In 1993, I and four others traveled clandestinely across East Timor to gather evidence of the genocide committed by the Indonesian dictatorship. Such was the depth of silence about this tiny country that the only map I could find before I set out was one with blank spaces stamped "Relief Data Incomplete". Yet few places had been as defiled and abused by murderous forces. Not even Pol Pot had succeeded in despatching, proportionally, as many people as the Indonesian tyrant Suharto had done in collusion with the "international community" (including Australia). In East Timor, I found a country littered with graves, their black crosses crowding the eye: crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides, crosses beside the road. They announced the murder of entire communities, from babies to the elderly. In 2000, when the East Timorese, displaying a collective act of courage with few historical parallels, finally won their freedom, the United Nations set up a truth commission; on 24 January, its 2,500 pages were published. I have never read anything like it. Using mostly official documents, it recounts in painful detail the entire disgrace of East Timor's blood sacrifice. It says that 180,000 East Timorese were killed by Indonesian troops or died from enforced starvation. It describes the "primary roles" in this carnage of the governments of the United States, Britain and Australia. Americas "political and military support were fundamental" in crimes that ranged from "mass executions to forced resettlements, sexual and other horrific forms of torture as well as abse against children". Britain, a co-conspirator in the invasion, was the main arms supplier. If you want to see through the smokescreen currently around Iraq, and understand true terrorism, read this document.
As I read it, my mind went back to the letters Foreign Office officials wrote to concerned members of the public and MPs following the showing of my film Death of a Nation. Knowing the truth, they denied that British-supplied Hawk jets were blowing straw-roofed villages to bits and that British-supplied Heckler and Koch machine-guns were finishing off the occupants. They even lied about the scale of suffering. And it is all happening again, wrapped in the same silence and with the "international community" playing the same part as backer and beneficiary of the crushing of a defenseless people. Indonesias brutal occupation of West Papua, a vast, resource-rich province; stolen from its people, like East Timor, is one of the great secrets of our time. Recently, the Australian minister of "communications", Senator Helen Coonan, failed to place it on the map of her own region, as if it did not exist. An estimated 100,000 Papuans, or 10 per cent of the population, have been killed by the Indonesian military. This is a fraction of the true figure, according to refugees. In January, 43 West Papuans reached Australias north coast after a hazardous six-week journey in a dugout. They had no food, and had dribbled their last fresh water into their childrens mouths. "We knew," said Herman Wainggai, the leader, "that if the Indonesian military had caught us, most of us would have died. They treat West Papuans like animals. They kill us like animals. They have created militias and jihadis to do just that. It is the same as East Timor."
For over a year, an estimated 6,000 people have been hiding in dense jungle after their villages and crops were destroyed by Indonesian special forces. Raising the West Papuan flag is "treason". Two men are serving 15 and ten-year sentences for merely trying. Following an attack on one village, a man was presented as an "example" and petrol poured over him and his hair set alight. When the Netherlands gave Indonesia its independence in 1949, it argued that West Papua was a separate geographic and ethnic entity with a distinctive national character. A report published last November by the Institute of Netherlands History in The Hague revealed that the Dutch had secretly recognised the "unmistakable beginning of the formation of a Papuan state", but were bullied by the administration of John F Kennedy to accept "temporary" Indonesian control over what a White House adviser called "a few thousand miles of cannibal land". The West Papuans were conned. The Dutch, Americans, British and Australians backed an "Act of Free Choice" ostensibly run by the UN. The movements of a UN monitoring team of 25 were restricted by the Indonesian military and they were denied interpreters. In 1969, out of a population of 800,000, some 1,000 West Papuans "voted". All were selected by the Indonesians. At gunpoint, they "agreed" to remain under the rule of General Suharto - who had seized power in 1965 in what the CIA later described as "one of the worst mass murders of the late 20th century". In 1981, the Tribunal on Human Rights in West Papua, held in exile, heard from Eliezer Bonay, Indonesias first governor of the province, that approximately 30,000 West Papuans had been murdered during 1963-69. Little of this was reported in the west.
The silence of the "international community" is explained by the fabulous wealth of West Papua. In November 1967, soon after Suharto had consolidated his seizure of power, the Time-Life Corporation sponsored an extraordinary conference in Geneva. The participants included the most powerful capitalists in the world, led by the banker David Rockefeller. Sitting opposite them were Suhartos men, known as the "Berkeley mafia", as several had enjoyed US government scholarships to the University of California at Berkeley. Over three days, the Indonesian economy was carved up, sector by sector. An American and European consortium was handed West Papuas nickel; American, Japanese and French companies got its forests. However, the prize, the world's largest gold reserve and third-largest copper deposit, literally a mountain of copper and gold, went to the US mining giant Freeport-McMoran. On the board is Henry Kissinger, who, as US secretary of state, gave the "green light" to Suharto to invade East Timor, says the Dutch report. Freeport is today probably the biggest single source of revenue for the Indonesian regime: the company is said to have handed Jakarta 33 billion dollars between 1992 and 2004. Little of this has reached the people of West Papua. Last December, 55 people reportedly starved to death in the district of Yahukimo. The Jakarta Post noted the "horrible irony" of hunger in such an "immensely rich" province. According to the World Bank, "38 per cent of Papuas population is living in poverty, more than double the national average". The Freeport mines are guarded by Indonesias special forces, who are among the worlds most seasoned terrorists, as their documented crimes in East Timor demonstrate. Known as Kopassus, they have been armed by the British and trained by the Australians. Last December, the Howard government in Canberra announced that it would resume "co-operation" with Kopassus at the Australian SAS base near Perth. In an inversion of the truth, the then Australian defence minister, Senator Robert Hill, described Kopassus as having "the most effective capability to respond to a counter-hijack or hostage recovery threat". The files of human-rights organisations overflow with evidence of Kopassus terrorism. On 6 July 1998, on the West Papuan island of Biak, just north of Australia, special forces massacred more than 100 people, most of them women.
However, the Indonesian military has not been able to crush the popular Free Papua Movement (OPM). Since 1965, almost alone, the OPM has reminded the Indonesians, often audaciously, that they are invaders. In the past two months, the resistance has caused the Indonesians to rush more troops to West Papua. Two British-supplied Tactica armoured personnel carriers fitted with water cannon have arrived from Jakarta. These were first delivered during the late Robin Cooks "ethical dimension" in foreign policy. Hawk fighter-bombers, made by BAE Systems, have been used against West Papuan villages. The fate of the 43 asylum-seekers in Australia is precarious. In contravention of international law, the Howard government has moved them from the mainland to Christmas Island, which is part of an Australian "exclusion zone" for refugees. We should watch carefully what happens to these people. If the history of human rights is not the history of great powers impunity, the UN must return to West Papua, as it did finally to East Timor.
Or do we always have to wait for the crosses to multiply?
Reprisals ongoing in Papua: Minister
By Jane Bunce, AAP 2006
April 2nd., 2006
An Australian Anglican minister says at least 10 people have disappeared in military reprisals since a violent demonstration in Papua. The Victorian clergyman, Reverend Peter Woods, was speaking at a Free West Papua rally in Melbourne today. He said he fled the demonstration against the US-owned Freeport gold mine earlier this month soon after Indonesian police and military began exploding tear gas and firing into the air. Mr Woods, from St Andrews Church, Somerville, said he went to Papua to address church meetings, and stumbled on the demonstration while visiting a lecturer at the university in Abepura, outside capital Jayapura, on March 16. He said local leaders told him police were killed in the ensuing riot and many other people had since disappeared in subsequent military repression. "In the anger and uncontrolled manner of the police and the milliary since that time, there have been reprisals." Our Common Cause: Labor and Coalition must act for West Papua The Socialist Alliance calls on the Federal Coalition Government and the ALP Opposition to learn the lesson of East Timor in relation to West Papua.
Alliance spokesperson Pip Hinman said: "Last weeks arrival on Cape York of 42 West Papuan asylum seekers and the shooting of a young protester in West Papua should set alarm bells ringing in the ALP. Will the people of West Papua have to endure as bloody and painful a struggle as the East Timorese before Labor drops the pro Jakarta policy on West Papua it now shares with the Howard government?" The Socialist Alliance is challenging federal Labor to distinguish itself from the inhumane and racist refugee policy of the Howard government and engage positively with the West Papuan peoples struggle for self-determination. But Hinman noted that the signs were unpromising. "Instead of standing up for the rights of the West Papuans, the federal opposition, through shadow minister for Overseas Aid and Pacific Island Affairs Bob Sercombe, is simply calling for a joint parliamentary fact-finding trip to West Papua by Indonesian and Australian parliamentarians." "But what facts does Labor have to find? The Indonesia army and elite have oppressed the people of West Papua just as much as they did the people of East Timor. If Bob Sercombe really lacks facts he could start by reading Dutch historian Dr Peter Drooglevers 2005 report to the Dutch parliament on the incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia." That report found that: 1. The 1969 "Act of Free Choice", in which 1022 West Papuans out of a population of 800,000 were press-ganged into voting for incorporation into Indonesia, was a total sham. 2. Indonesian police and army presence in West Papua has steadily increased since 1969, in direct contradiction to the proposal of former Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik, who stated that "the army would first have to be withdrawn before Papuan society would be able to develop". 3. West Papuas abundant natural resources have been ruthlessly exploited for the benefit of the military and the Jakarta elite, leaving the West Papuans as one of the poorest communities in the Indonesian archipelago. 4. Over the decades since 1969, "not a day went by ... when no one died or no one was seriously mistreated". Casualty figures "running into the tens of thousands have been mentioned". The Socialist Alliance has joined with all those calling for the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers to be flown to the mainland from Christmas Island, released into the community and granted permanent refugee status. Hinman explained: "On no account should they be returned to West Papua; it is not difficult to imagine what their fate would be at the hands of an Indonesian military that only a fortnight ago deported eight independence fighters from West Papua to Jakarta against their will." The Socialist Alliance is committed to building the protest movement in support of the asylum seekers and in solidarity with West Papuas struggle for self-determination. According to the alliance, part of that campaign must be to end all Australian aid to the Indonesian military. "We support the formation of the largest possible coalition of political, human rights, church and community groups to put pressure on the government to allow the refugees to stay, and on the government and the ALP to change their bipartisan line of complicity with Jakartas policies of repression in West Papua", Hinman said. "The Australian solidarity movement with East Timor was critical in forcing Canberra to change its line of collaboration with Jakarta against the rights of the Timorese. We can and must repeat that effort for the people of West Papua."
Protection Visas for 42 West Papuan Refugees
By Andra Jackson,
April 4th., 2006
Forty Two West Papuan refugees recalled the start of their journey into exile yesterday when they stood on the tarmac at Tullamarine and sang a freedom song from Serui Island. The island off the north coast of West Papua, is the home of their leader, student activist Herman Wainggai, who is tipped to be a future West Papuan leader. It is also where the outrigger canoe for their five-day voyage was secretly built. The group consisting of 32 adults and 10 children, landed in the Gulf of Carpentaria on January 18th. As the refugees, who have been granted protection visas, left the plane from Christmas Island yesterday, they carried a West Papuan flag. Three of the refugees, one of them a woman juggling a young child on her hip, danced their way down the tarmac as they triumphantly held up their flag, the Morning Star. In Indonesian-controlled West Papua, just flying the flag can bring a jail sentence. In 2002, Mr Wainggai was imprisoned for two years over his role in a university ceremony where the West Papuan flag was raised. Mr Wainggai said: "Today we are happy but in West Papua they are still suffering." Later, talking at a press conference on human rights violations in West Papua, he broke down as he described: "I see my friends shot by the guns of Indonesia. In my eyes, I witness. How can I explain that to the international community?" Mr Wainggai is the nephew of the West Papuan independence leader Thomas Wainggai, who died 10 years ago in a Jakarta prison while serving a life term for raising the West Papuan flag. He said the West Papuan struggle for independence had been going on for 42 years but Papuans remained "under pressure from the Government of Indonesia". "There is no freedom for talking about our rights," he said. Those taking part in peaceful protests were arrested and taken to Indonesian courts where "there is no justice". The granting of protection visas to the group, he said, was "a golden time" for West Papua because "the decision made by the Australian Government respected our rights".
Red faces if Greens keep on about an independent Papua
Sydney Morning Herald, April 4th., 2006.
It’s time for a low-key response to ease tensions with Indonesia, warns Gerard Henderson. Fortunately, Australian foreign policy is not run by the Australian Greens. However, it is easy to get the impression that the likes of senators Kerry Nettle and Bob Brown represented more than just a minority party as they advocated independence for Indonesias province of Papua, sometimes referred to as West Papua and previously titled Irian Jaya. Certainly, East Timor obtained its independence from Indonesia in 1999. Yet it is important to remember that this was made possible by the Asian economic downturn of 1997, which contributed to the collapse of the Suharto government. If the Suharto regime had remained in place, it is unlikely that East Timor would have become an independent nation. The Australian-led and United Nations-sanctioned peace enforcement operation went into East Timor in 1999 with the approval of the (post-Suharto) government in Jakarta. Jakarta has always placed greater importance on Papua remaining part of Indonesia than East Timor. The former was part of the Dutch East Indies, over which the Netherlands retained sovereignty when Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch in 1949. East Timor, on the other hand, was a Portuguese colony and was not a factor in the Indonesian independence movement. In the end, Jakarta conceded (albeit reluctantly) its control over East Timor. It is most unlikely to do so with respect to the provinces of Papua and Ache. Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, Australias political leaders advocated that West New Guinea (as it was then termed) should not become part of Indonesia. It did so essentially for two reasons, one altruistic, the other strategic. Robert Menzies and his ministers pointed publicly to the ethnic differences between the native-born inhabitants of New Guinea and Indonesia. But, privately at least, there was also concern at the security implications of the radical nationalist Indonesian leader Sukarno gaining territory next to Papua New Guinea, for which Australia had responsibility at the time. Australias position is spelt out in detail in Alan Watts The Evolution of Australian Foreign Policy: 1938-1965. He demonstrates that "the fundamental reason why Dutch and Australian policy on West New Guinea failed was lack of support by a Great Power able and willing to back it up, in the last resort, by armed force". Neither the US nor Britain was prepared to become embroiled in what would have been termed a colonial war in defence of a colonial power (the Dutch) against a newly independent nation.
Shots fired as Indon rift grows
Herald Sun News, 6th. April 2006.
Warning shots were fired at suspected illegal Indonesian fishing vessels during a swoop by the Australian Navy. The crackdown, which included nearly 200 arrests, plus a hunt for six new West Papua asylum seekers, have pushed tensions between the two countries to breaking point. Shots were fired, 23 boats seized and 197 people arrested in the two-week Operation Breakwater. Images of burning boats are sure to anger Indonesian nationalists already furious at Australia for granting protection visas to 43 West Papua refugees.
An air search yesterday failed to find a second group of asylum seekers; a union leader and his family, reportedly dropped on a deserted island off Cape York on Sunday. Indonesia yesterday announced it had strengthened its naval presence in the waters between the two countries. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned the international community, including Australia, to stay out of its affairs. "The problem in Papua is an internal problem of our country. We do not want outsiders, from wherever they come, to interfere in our internal affairs," he said during a flying visit to the troubled province. "Once again, I want to say that we want to settle the problem in Papua in a peaceful, just and dignified way." Prime Minister John Howard repeated Australias respect for Indonesias sovereignty over Papua. "My message to the people of West Papua is simply this: I regard them as citizens of the Republic of Indonesia," he said. West Papua support groups in Australia claim hundreds more asylum seekers are waiting to make the journey to Australia.
The Future for West Papua?
The Bush administrations aggressive moves to maintain US economic and strategic preeminence in Asia are having a profoundly destabilising influence. By steadily backing Canberra into a corner over China, Rice is inevitably heightening tensions not just in Australia-US relations, but throughout the region as a whole. Australian Governments since the end of the Second World War have done the bidding of America in the region and are seen as Americas right hand in the Western Pacific, recently the Howard government has unconditionally backed the Bush administrations militarist policies, dispatching troops to Afghanistan and Iraq in order to secure US backing for a more aggressive pursuit of Australian interests in the Asia Pacific region. This stance has provoked sharp criticism in ruling circles, reflecting concerns over the unfolding disaster in Iraq and fears that unalloyed support for Washington will undermine Australias highly profitable economic relations with Asia.
In the scale of World politics is West Papua even noticed?