West Papua is the western half of New Guinea, like Tasmania it was separated
from the Australian mainland around 5,000BC. But over 40,000 years ago
Australia was settled by people of dark skin and fuzzy hair;
the indigenous people of Papua are Melanesian (black islanders of Pacific),
farmers and traders who long ago developed hundreds of languages and joyfull
cultures which had been stable and satisfied the people's needs for
thousands of years.
In 1775 the American War of Independence caused Britain to establish a new convict colony on the Australian mainland where the sparse indigenous population could not resist. Britain avoided fertile Papua and Papuan people who could have repelled a 18th century colonialization.
Without setting foot upon Papua, 19th century Europe drew lines across their maps of the Papuan coastline and by 1895 Europe accepted Holland's claim to West Papua, Germany claimed North Eastern Papua and Britain claimed South Eastern quarter. The European claims meant little to the Papuan peoples but in West Papua the Dutch missionaries had arrived in 1860 and were well behaved and accepted by the West Papuan nations who added Dutch to their languages and the Dutch sciences to their world view.
In the 1930s graduates of a Teachers College talked about West Papua's need to create a unified West Papuan identity and government to protect their cultural interests from any future colonialist attempts. But unknown to the Papuans or Dutch colonial government, a 1936 Dutch geology team was in fact working for Standard Oil and when they discovered the world's richest gold & copper deposits kept the discovery and their motives secret.
In the 1940s Japan and Indonesia went to war against the United States and what they called the 'western imperial powers of the Pacific'; when Japan invaded Papua the people could not fight against automatic guns but unlike Asian countries, in Papua the people avoided and denied any aid to the Japanese colonialist. In 18 months two thirds of the first Japanese troops had died from the elements and inability to feed themselves; but when the United States came, the Papuan people gave aid to feed and move through their tropical landscape. So safe was West Papua for America that Gen. MacArthur had his headquarters and the U.S. Pacific bases built in West Papua for a half million Americans.
In March 1945 over in Asia, Tokyo appointed Sukarno and Hatta as the head of their Indonesia independence committee and later Sukarno broadcast his claim to be the leader of Java and Sumatra and of all the countries which had ever been under Dutch governance. Although Holland objected to a Axis leader not being arrested, the United Nations in 1949 created the United States of Indonesia which was a federation of 16 States including Sukarno and his militia; within eight months Sukarno had conquered and claimed all 16 States as part of his Republic of Indonesia. In 1950 Sukarno also demanded the Netherlands should surrender West Papua to become part of his new Javanese empire, and he threaten to nationalize all Dutch businesses unless Holland agreed.
Unknown to the U.S. or Netherland governments by 1960 the Freeport company was already working towards mining West Papua's gold & copper under a Indonesian colonial agreement.
By 1961 West Papua had deveopled contemporary civil services (medical, electrical, communications, metrological, commerical, police, etc.) (see 1961 UN Report, appx., photos; '60 photos; '59 photos) and raised their national flag on 1st December 1961; Indonesia then attempted invasion but failed.
In 1962 after Indonesia threaten to become a communist State unless Kennedy coerce secret negotiations with the Netherlands to surrender the people of West Papua to Indonesian control. Kennedy not knowing about Papua's gold or vast copper deposits called West Papua worthless territory which nobody should fight over and despite public, Secretary of State Rusk's, and CIA objections; the United States forced the Netherlands to sign the shamefull New York Agreement to trade West Papua to Indonesia; afterwards Indonesia began killing members of the West Papuan government and other social leaders.
Although Indonesia promised to allow West Papua to choose and did sign the New York Agreement, Indonesia then renounced that promise as Rusk had predicted. In 1967 the US Freeport company completed buying an Indonesian 30 year license to mine West Papua's gold & copper which the Standard Oil executives had been keeping secret since 1936. Finally in 1969 the Indonesian military conducted a fake election called the "Act of Free Choice" in which they claim the West Papuan people had voted to become a colony (govern and exploited by a foreign power) of Indonesian Islamic rule, thereby claiming their 1967 sale of mining rights to be legal.
The only tool which West Papua and the OPM (Organisation for Papuan Political Freedom) has, is the truth. Indonesia uses repression of Freedom of speech, movement, expression; even the 1961 Morning Star flag is illegal under Indonesian law; perhaps worse is the denial of media access whose reports have help Darfur but whose silence encourages genocide in West Papua. In Washington even news about the US Congress Bill which is national headlines in Indonesia in 2005 is not mentioned in the US media; and if you read the New York Times articles of the 1950s you would know both the editors and US public were concerned about West Papua's plight until the US media ceased its coverage in mid 1962.What has Indonesia been doing in West Papua ?
West Papua is another East Timor, the people want to vote for independence and
the Indonesian military enforces its will that this will not be allowed in
this Australian Pacific Island nation of West Papua.
The land was integrated in to the Republic of Indonesia against the wishes of
the Papuan peoples. Terrible human rights abuses and massive environmental
destruction has been taking place in their beautiful and resource rich territory
since the early 1960s.
The peoples of West Papua deserve the right to self-determination.
They deserve to live in peace.
Your support is crucial.
To defend themselves and fight for their basic freedoms, many West Papuan's have engaged in a campaign of guerilla warfare for survival as well as seeking political and and human rights support from outside West Papua. The Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) and public demonstrations have been the peoples instruments since 1965. In November 2001, a Free West Papua Movement leader Theys Eluay was tortured and killed by the Indonesian Military.
The situation in West Papua is similar to that of East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in 1999. Some of the Indonesian military commanders responsible for the violence in East Timor are now operating in West Papua, as are Islamic terrorist groups such as 'Laskar Jihad' and the Indonesian 'Red & White Defense Front'.
Freedom: the right to live in peace, to speak their own language and have their own culture that they can pass on to their children, and to have a say in how they live. Importantly, West Papuan's are ethically and culturally different from Indonesia. They are related to Melanesian people, including the people of the Torres Straits, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. They therefore want independence from Indonesia.
The closest that Indonesia has come to addressing their terror & control of West Papua has been to offer greater autonomy on paper. However, this has only been used to delay western help and as a means to divide West Papua into smaller regions in an attempt to divide Papuan unity for their united independence from Indonesia. Indeed, 2002 marked a new stage in the Indonesian military's campaign of terror in West Papua, the Indonesian military was directly implicated in the murder of US citizens employed by the Freeport mine, and an attempt to frame the OPM for these murders; in October Laskar Jihad having completed its destruction of Churches & Christian communities in the Moluccas Islands and was moved to commence similar terror in West Papua.
Why won't Indonesia give West Papuan's their freedom, like it did East Timor?
Partly because of money; largely because of the political support which Freeport and similar companies provide in Washington, Canberra, and London; and partly because of domestic propaganda in promoting the military victory and racial suppiority of Asians and the Javanese over the Melanesian people.
Why haven't other countries rallied to support West Papua?
Because of these financial links, and because they fear upsetting the United States which was always supported Indonesian military against other Allies or interests. Therefore Western governments are unwilling to say anything that might offend the Indonesians and their US supporters, choosing to turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses.
What's the United Nation's position?
The United Nation's maintains the line that West Papua lost its right to independence in the 1969 "Act of Free Choice". This is in spite of the fact that some of the UN staff who helped organise the referendum say it was not free or fair. Former United Nations Under-secretary General, Chakravarthy Narasimhan, who helped to organise the Act of Free Choice, for example, says "It was just a whitewash. The mood at the United Nations was to get rid of this problem as quickly as possible. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that there were a million people who had their fundamental human rights trampled".