West Papuans have been struggling against a brutal military occupation since 1963. They were denied the right to voice their political aspirations by an international conspiracy made possible by the UN, the US, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. Indonesian security forces, which have been deployed in the province by the thousands to maintain Indonesia’s hold and protect American investment, are notorious for their disregard for human life and violations of human rights. The world witnessed similar transgressions, engineered by the same officials, in East Timor.
In 1999 the US, under pressure from the American people, came to East Timor’s aid; now the same must be done for West Papua. Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua is only made possible by international endorsement. US recognition of West Papua’s fraudulent referendum, support and training of Indonesian security forces, and investment in resource exploitation, all encourage Indonesia’s malicious policy and inexcusable conduct. As US citizens we have the power to change our foreign policy, check our international investors, and insist on international intervention. Now is the time to do it.
SELF-DETERMINATION: THE ACT OF ‘FREE’ CHOICE
When the Dutch East Indies became the Republic of Indonesia the Dutch recognized that West Papuans are Melanesian, culturally and ethnically different from Indonesians. As the Netherlands began to prepare West Papua for independence, Indonesia prepared to invade. Fearing Indonesia might join the communist bloc, the US interceded. The Kennedy administration facilitated the New York Agreement which handed West Papua over to UN temporary authorities in order to prepare West Papuans for self-determination through a referendum called The Act of Free choice. Almost immediately Indonesia took over administration from the UN. Instead of a plebiscite, the Act of Free Choice became an Act of No Choice. 1,022 hand picked individuals (just 1% of the population) voted for West Papua’s integration into Indonesia.
The international community turned a blind eye and UN General Assembly resolution 2504 condemned West Papuans to their dismal fate. Chakravarth Narasimhan, one of the UN officials involved in the sham later admitted “it was a whitewash. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that there were a million people who had their fundamental human rights trampled. Suharto was a terrible dictator. How could anyone have seriously believed that all voters unanimously decided to join his regime?” For more information on the international campaign for UN review of the Act of Free Choice visit: http://www.westpapuaaction.buz.org/unreview/index.htm Please see the sample letter on this website and write to Kofi Annan, be sure to cc: West Papua Action
HUMAN RIGHTS: THE TNI
In addition to being denied the right to self-determination, West Papuan human rights are under constant assault by Indonesian security forces. These are the same police and military that engineered genocide in East Timor and continue to enjoy impunity. The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights has received only one reply to the 12 urgent appeals he has sent to the Indonesian Government (E/CN.4/2001/66, paras. 585-616). He commented that there can be no justification for the security forces resorting to criminal human rights violations, and it is disheartening that the military seems unable to learn the lesson from East Timor of the futility of such a strategy (para. 616). The US has financed, absolved, and even trained the security forces that torture, rape, murder, intimidate and terrorize the people of West Papua. Over 100,000 people have been killed(10% of the indigenous population). Military aid to Indonesia was cut off by Congress because of human rights violations perpetrated by the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) in East Timor in 1999. Now the Bush administration is trying to reinstate aid to assist in the War on Terror. The Pentagon even said most of the $21 million recently allocated in a defense bill for global counter-terrorism training efforts should be spent on Indonesia. This cannot be allowed to happen. We can change US policy. By writing letters and staging demonstrations we are spreading the word and letting our representatives know that we want military aid to Indonesia terminated and human rights violators brought to justice.
FOREIGN INVESTMENT: ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS AND PRESERVATION
The New Guinea Island possesses one of the most unique ecological systems in the world and the largest virgin rainforest after the Amazon. It is the lungs of the Asia-Pacific. Indonesia has seized, bought, sold, and ravaged hundreds of square miles of land with no regard for customary land ownership, cultural and spiritual attachment, environmental preservation, or socio-economic implications. Again the trail of devastation leads back to the TNI and the US. Indonesia gave New Orleans based Freeport Gold and Copper a mining concession in West Papua before the question of sovereignty had even been resolved.
Today Freeport McMoran is one of Indonesia’s largest exporters and taxpayers. The company earns over a million dollars per day and its CEO, Bob Moffet, is one of the highest paid in the industry. Freeport dumps more than 200,000 tons of waste per day into the local community’s sole water source, and has consequently destroyed over 50,000 square miles of rainforest. To ‘protect’ itself from the local community’s inevitable animosity, Freeport employs the services of the TNI. At their hands, over 220 people have died on Freeport land including two American teachers employed by Freeport in 2002.
The TNI only receives 20 to 30 percent of their funding from the national budget. The rest is supplemented by illegal logging, trading in endangered species, and coercing companies like Freeport into buying security services. By participating in actions, writing to Moffet, and your local periodicals, we can let Freeport and potential investors know that we are watching, and that they will not longer be allowed to murder the land and people of West Papua in secret. For more information on the environment see: htp://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/cline/papua/deforestation.htm
There is already a thriving civil society dialogue in West Papua addressing the social and economic status of women. What must be of concern to the international community is Indonesian strategies that target indigenous women (opposed to transmigrant women) as victims of military violence and as recipients of inappropriate ‘family planning’ schemes. The TNI has historically used rape as a suppressive tactic; numerous cases have been reported in West Papua and again they enjoy impunity. It is believed this tactic, and Indonesia’s reluctance in invest in healthcare infrastructure in the province, has led to West Papua reporting the highest AIDS infection in Indonesia.
Indonesia emphasizes implanting contraceptives in indigenous women, which are improperly fitted and monitored. Many suggest that the recent spread in AIDS, and lack of treatment or education, in conjunction with the above mentioned use of contraceptives, expresses the Indonesian government’s intention to annihilate the indigenous population.
There are an estimated 10,400 displaced West Papuans, most living in Papuan New Guinea without UN refugee status. Although a reopening of the issue by the UN and PNG might lead to further international awareness regarding West Papua, it may also lead to Indonesian military reprisals. What is most important is to receive a guarantee from PNG and Indonesia for these people’s safety, regardless of what side of the border they are on. For more information see: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/cline/papua/refugees.htm
WHAT YOU CAN DO
• Voice Your Opinion
The first thing you can do is write your congressional representatives, the Secretary General of the UN, the CEO of Freeport McMoran, and the UN Decolonization Committee; there is a sample letter on the back of this leaflet.
• Be an Activist o Inform yourself and others, join the WPAN mailing list and tell others what’s going on o Urge your church groups, student organizations, labor unions etc, to support West Papua.
• Join or create your own local branch of WPAN and organize actions like informational meetings, demonstrations, letter writing parties, or meetings with your congressperson. Contact us for information, materials, videos, music, and speakers.
• Make a Contribution WPAN is a grassroots network of concerned individuals and your financial contributions help to maintain the website, produce informational materials, host conferences, and bring West Papuans for speaking engagements. You can also buy t-shirts, stickers, videos, and music.
Contact us to make a purchase or donation; receipts are issued for all transactions.
Find your congressional representatives mailing address at: http://www.dreamagic.com/congress/states0.html
Mr. Robert Moffet CEO, Freeport
P O Box 51777
New Orleans, LA 70151
The UN General Secretary
New York, NY 10017
UN Decolonization Committee
New York, NY 10017
The grievances of the West Papuan people must be addressed. Since Indonesia’s hostile takeover in 1969 more than
- 1 million people have been denied participation in a plebiscite for self-determination
- 100,000 people have been killed by Indonesian security forces
- 10,000 people have been displaced by state violence and land seizure
- 50,000 square miles of virgin rainforest has been destroyed by mine tailings
- 30% of West Papua has been handed out by Indonesia in potential logging concessions
- $35 million has been paid by US mining company Freeport McMoran to the Indonesian military
- 220 people have died on Freeport land at the hands of the military or Freeport personnel Presently
- More than 200,000 tons per day of mining waste are dumped into Papua’s rivers
- Over $1 million is earned per day by foreign interests, specifically Freeport McMoran
- Papua continues to have the lowest health and education statistics in Indonesia
- In excess of $11 million per year is paid by Freeport to the Indonesian military
- Only 20% of the urban population and 60% of the total population are indigenous because of the Indonesian transmigration program which has a mind towards indigenous annihilation
- No semblance of Indonesia’s promised Special Autonomy package has been implemented
- More than 35,000 Indonesian troops are deployed in the province whose sole purpose is to increase these shocking statistics
Your recognition of Indonesia’s ‘territorial integrity’ and their ‘sovereign authority’ in West Papua fuels this machinery of murder, oppression, and exploitation. The time has come for you to reexamine the US role in West Papua. This letter advises you that I, and the greater American public, will no longer tolerate US support of West Papua’s subjugation.
Awaiting your response,