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Independence Day in West Papua

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In present economies, most nations are celebrating their independence days including the once greatest country in the World America which marked its Independence Day just days ago. Nowhere in the modern world has an armed liberation struggle persisted for so long and with such secrecy, as the West Papuan war of resistance against the military occupation by the government of Indonesia. In the wake of Black liberation perhaps the world ought to know what is happening in West Papua and the injustices perpetrated by the Indonesian Military.

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, formerly known as Dutch New Guinea. It is worth noting that their plight started sometime in 1962 when the Netherlands would not relinquish its control in favor of an Independent West Papua or surrender it to a new colonial master, mind you this is at a time when most colonies in Africa had just climaxed their struggles for independence. For thirteen years prior to the dispute, The Indonesian government had secretly eyed and admired the former Dutch colony in the hope of replacing the largely white colonial masters with those of Asian ethnic persuasion. Possibly the same thing that the Republic of China is trying to achieve with other African countries, Kenya included.

West Papua was consequently denied the right of self-determination to its people and became an Indonesian colony. Following Indonesia’s farcical Act of “Free” Choice, carried out in 1969 under conditions of extreme duress, West Papua was irregularly, and unprocedurally proclaimed an Indonesian province and renamed Irian Jaya in full glare of the entire world. Through their acquiescence, Western nations assisted in these actions and have continued to support Indonesia’s repressive military rule with arms, military support, and World Bank funding. This is precisely why Africa, and more especially through the African Union should advocate for by any necessary means possible, rejection of western bigotry.


The United Nations has given diplomatic support to Indonesia, particularly in the case of the West Papuan takeover, and neighboring countries such as Australia have followed a policy of appeasement even in the face of the military’s worst excesses. Papua New Guinea has been thrust into the role of unwilling participant in an international problem by becoming the recipient of the first refugees in the Melanesian Pacific.

Sometime between 1973 and 1975, the possible time frame for of Papua New Guinea’s independence, the Indonesian military stepped up its activity against the West Papuan people and several dispossessed West Papuans joined the Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or Free Papua Movement (OPM), the fighting wing of the resistance. Although Indonesia has consistently maintained that the OPM is not a threat, the might of its army has been deployed since the occupation in a vain attempt to destroy the movement. Villages were destroyed as the army hunted for OPM members and the whole population turned against the invading forces. It became impossible to separate activists from the community; all people, whether villagers of refugees, proclaimed their solidarity, or so it is claimed.


Again in 1984, after Indonesia deployed widespread military action and seized traditionally owned land for transmigration sites, more than 10,000 West Papuans crossed the border to seek refuge in Papua New Guinea. Indonesia’s 1984-1989 transmigration plan called for 5 million people from Java, Madura, and Bali to be moved to the provinces that continue to resist its military occupation (i.e., West Papua, East Timor, Kalimantan, South Moluccas, Sulawesi, and Sumatra). (This policy, along with a more comprehensive history of the conflict, has been widely documented and is summarized most recently by Gault-Williams.


Indonesia has successfully and deliberately managed to cover-up of events in West Papua continued as the Papua New Guinea government tried to ignore the more than 10,000 refugees camped inside its border. The intense secrecy, the closed access to the two colonial territories. East Timor and Irian Jaya, and the complicity of world powers in Indonesia’s state-endorsed terrorism have succeeded in ensuring that the outside world remains ignorant of the Indonesian policy of genocide. Every Australian newspaper has been banned in Indonesia at one time or another and the eminent and conservative Australian was banned for many years. Radio Australia has also been silenced and international media representatives and writers banned for reporting factual events.

We live in a time when we are constantly proclaiming the inherent rights to human decency as a basic need. In fact, the west has sharply criticized African governments for allegedly not affording its people the various rights envisaged in their various laws. It is funny how they endorse such repressive notions by their economic peers. For the last six to seven decades that Indonesia has been in occupation of West Papua, there is no government that has openly come out to criticize such tendencies. The American and English governments which are known to be vocal about injustices have particularly turned a blind eye. Perhaps it is time the West stopped preaching water and drinking wine. Maybe we should hold them to the very standards they impose on us. Why is the Australian government silent of the atrocities being aided by its military in West Papua? For how much longer are we going to be silent as Indonesia milks them dry? Why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is so silent on the same, then want us to conveniently take their side when conspiracy stories start damaging their very questionable reputation?

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