West Papua: One people, one soul, one destiny #FreeWestPapua
“They want our land, they do not want our people.” It is something the mainstream media refuses to air and report anything on. But, for more than half a century the West Papuans have had their land, language, culture and their lives taken from them. In 1971 the indigenous Papuans made up 96% of the population, but today it’s less than half that.
The former Dutch colony were preparing for independence in 1961, but within months, that dream for independence was gone. Indonesia invaded and laid a very aggressive territorial claim. In 1969 a sham referendum was held, the so called Act of Free Choice but is often disparagingly referred to as the Act of No Choice. There was just over 1000 local men who were picked to participate in the referendum. They say that they were brutally forced to join up with Indonesia and ever since then they have been subjected to what they refer to as slow motion genocide.
Amnesty international claims at least 100,000 people have been killed, West Papuan’s however, believe that the figure is closer to 500,000. In a time where these people are being erased from their own land and with many West Papuan’s feeling that they are suffering a genocide and a Indonesian war. It should be beholden to the United Nations to investigate all of these claims.
If you are reading this from Australia, there is a reason why you probably have never heard about the issue in West Papua. Back in 2006, Australia signed “The Lombok Treaty” which means essentially agreeing to stay out of the way of Indonesia’s territorial disputes in the region. Although Australia has supported the Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, the issue remains one of sensitivities within the Australia-Indonesia relationship.
But that doesn’t give Indonesia a free pass to commit these human rights abuses in the province, nor should Australia run away from discussing these matters. It is even more important that prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, ask the hard questions about what Indonesia is doing to address the human rights violations in Papua and how Australia can help.
The Free West Papua campaign has garnered attention and has gained momentum and appeal in recent years. The bid for self-determination has been tragic and long. Even to this very day it has all been overlooked and not even considered by the international community. At least 37 Papuans still remain behind bars for just doing peaceful acts of free expression and expressing solidarity with the independence movement.
Unfortunately Indonesia see this being about sovereignty, so they do not want to lose or anyone to come in and investigate what they consider to be their country. With it being an issue of sovereignty from Indonesia’s point of view, unless the United Nations or any other government has the balls to stand up and do something and investigate what is going on for the people of West Papua. It is really hard to see it getting any better anytime soon. Which is a really sad thing to say.
To see how you can help the Free West Papua organisation:
Check out their website: https://www.freewestpapua.org/
Follow on Twitter: @FreeWestPapua
Like the Free West Papua Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/freewestpapua/