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Solidarity for West Papua
Marking West Papua Independence Day 2007

Update: Photos of solidarity events in Wellington and Auckland

November 2007

This alert has four sections with information about:

  • West Papua;

  • 1 December, West Papua Independence Day;

  • 'Messages of solidarity' - something you can do wherever you are to add your voice to those who are calling for justice, peace and self-determination for the people of West Papua; and

  • details of the solidarity events in Wellington on Thursday, 29 November, and Auckland on Saturday, 1 December.

About West Papua

Since 1963 West Papua has been occupied by the Indonesian armed forces. For the past forty-four years, the people of West Papua have been subjected to gross human rights violations including rape, torture, cultural genocide, murder and massacre - more than 100,000 West Papuans have been killed. More than 15,000 West Papuans are currently living in camps in Papua New Guinea; and others are forced to live in exile around the world because it is not safe for them to go home.

Multi-national corporations in cahoots with the Indonesian authorities have exploited West Papua's natural resources to an extraordinary degree. This has caused massive social dislocation, devastation of rain forests, pollution of streams and rivers on which the local people depend for their survival, and serious human rights violations in areas of where multinationals are active. [1]

There have been repeated ongoing calls from West Papuan leaders for dialogue to turn West Papua into a 'land of peace', but these have been ignored by the Indonesian authorities. The number of Indonesian troops deployed in West Papua continues to increase; earlier this year it was reported that there are plans to build up the troop presence along the border with Papua New Guinea, and to deploy a new third division of Indonesia's Kostrad (strategic reserve command) troops 'to patrol Papua border areas and other conflict-prone regions' [2]. It is estimated that the proportion of soldiers in West Papua is around one soldier for every 44 civilians.

In June 2007, following an investigative mission in West Papua and Indonesia, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders stated:

"The Special Representative is deeply concerned by the testimonies that she has heard indicating the continuing activities of the police, the military and other security and intelligence agencies that are aimed at harassment and intimidation of defenders or to restrict their access to victims and to sites of human rights violations.

She found this trend more pronounced in the Province of West Papua. She has heard credible reports of incidents that involve arbitrary detention, torture, harassment through surveillance, interference with the freedom of movement and in defenders' efforts to monitor and investigate human rights violations. She was also informed of cases where human rights defenders were threatened with prosecution by members of the police and the military. It was alleged that when defenders have attempted to register their complaints, this has been denied and the defenders threatened. She is also concerned about complaints that defenders working for the preservation of the environment and the right over land and natural resources frequently receive threats from private actors with powerful economic interest, but are granted no protection by the police. She is particularly disturbed by allegations that when defenders expose abuse of authority or other forms of human rights violations committed by the security apparatus, they are labelled as separatists in order to undermine their credibility. The Special Representative believes that this trend places human rights defenders at greater risk and must be discouraged by the concerned authorities." [3]

TAPOL has reported that the level of intimidation against human rights defenders, political activists and religious leaders by military and intelligence personnel has increased markedly since the visit of the UN Special Representative. [4]

As well as the direct violent repression by Indonesian armed forces, they are creating armed militias, similar to what they did in East Timor.

About 1 December, West Papua Independence Day

1 December is the anniversary of the 1961 West Papuan Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule and is observed by people in West Papua and by solidarity groups around the world.

In West Papua people mark the day in a variety of ways, including raising the 'Morning Star' (the West Papuan flag) - in previous years the Indonesian military and police have responded with increased violent oppression around this day, arresting and killing those they perceive as pro-independence activists.

On 1 December 2004, among the West Papuans arrested were Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage who organised peaceful celebrations and raised the Morning Star flag in Jayapura. On 26 May 2005, an Indonesian court sentenced Philip to fifteen years imprisonment and Yusak to ten years.

More information about West Papua, and what has happened on Independence Day in previous years, is available on the West Papua: the forgotten Pacific country web page.

Messages of solidarity for the people of West Papua

You are invited to add your voice to those of people all around the world who are calling for justice, peace and self-determination for the people of West Papua; an ongoing initiative that was launched on 1 December 2004.

If you would like your message included on the 'Messages of solidarity' web page please send your name, address*, occupation / position and organisation (optional), and message to Peace Movement Aotearoa [* only the town / city part of your address will be put on the web page, not your full address.]

If you can help distribute 'Messages of solidarity' forms from stalls, or in newsletters or other mail outs, you can either follow the link on the web page to the printable form, or email Peace Movement Aotearoa with your postal address and a note saying how many forms you require, or if you would prefer us to send you the artwork so you can copy the form as needed. Thank you.

West Papua solidarity events for 2007


[1] See for example the section on the Grasberg / Freeport mine in Fanning the Flames: The role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights, War on Want, November 2007: 24-25

[2] Open briefing for Forum Leaders on Human Rights in West Papua, TAPOL, 9 October 2007

[3] Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders concludes visit to Indonesia, 12 June 2007

[4] TAPOL, October 2007, as above.

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