West Papua Niugini: A Statement

West Papuans are living under Indonesian Military Control and are experiencing ongoing political oppression. Immigration of a great number of Indonesians to West Papua have deprived us of our rights and freedom. We will soon be a minority in our own land.

The massive exploitation of the natural and mineral resources, aggrssive repression of our human dignity and continuous environmental destruction by foreign and Indonesian interests have deprived West Papuans of our rights to live freely and independently.

Our indigenous culture is being systematically destroyed. This includes all our unique cultural practises, languages, and livelihoods that are in complete contrast to Indonesian (Javanese) culture. We are deeply concerned that the cutural ethnocide is still continuing and being intensified day by day. We are a nation 'non-gratis'. We are not recognised by one United Nations member country yet this completely contravenes the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which," exists to affirm the fundamental importance of the self determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural rights."

The United Nations refusal to recognise us West Papuans as a colonised indigenous people has rendered West Papuans 'rightless' under the rule of Indonesia.

The Indonesian government continues to violate the basic human rights of West Papuans. Thousands of West Papuans are deprived of their land, hundreds are detained and currently imprisoned without trial, and many have been killed by the Indonesian Army. It is estimated that 30,000 West Papuans have died fighting for independence.

A recent testimony to this is the massacre of 22 civilians and 15 alleged guerrillas who were killed or "disappeared" by the Indonesian army, aided by security forces employed by the Freeport McMoRan mine.Others were arbitrarily beaten, arrested, tortured, had their houses burned and gardens destroyed and were forced to flee into the jungle.

The villagers- members of the Amungme, Dani and other West Papuan indigenous peoples- were with members of the OPM West Papuan Liberation movement and were demonstrating in opposition to the expansion of Freeport's huge copper and gold mine at Tembagpura. The mine in the rugged Grasberg mountains, is already the biggest in Indonesia and one of the largest in the world. The OPM have been waging low level guerrilla resistance against Indonesia since the much condemned "Act of Free Choice" in 1969. The alleged abuses are the latest in a history of bad relations between Freeport and the local Amungme people whose lands were appropriated when the mine commenced in 1967. Recently the Indonesian government announced plans to relocate 2,000 people away from the mine area in an attempt to lure further British-Australian and American mining interests. Already the Freeport McMoRan consortium's operation, dumps around 110,000 tonnes of mining waste into the Aykwa River every day. The river is biologically dead as are the trees on its banks. The Amungme as a result of their relocation to lowlands areas have largely contracted malaria, a disease that did not affect them in their original Highlands home .

Please we urge all countries of the world to voice support for our Independence movement in all forums of the world. The United Nations, The Non Alligned Movement of Nations, The South Pacific Forum, and The Association of South East Asian Nations. They must recognise our plight and condemn Indonesia for abusing our most basic and universal human right. Our right to exist!

"Our brothers and sisters-never give up until West Papua is independent and free!

Patah tumbuh hilang berganti sampai Papua barat merdeka."

Please help us by joining the Friends of West Papua.


A brief history of West Papua

By: K Peart -Tasmanian West Papua Association

Very few people are aware of the question of West Papua at the present time. Like most colonial, imperial issues it is a complicated one, involving complex alliances, secret agreements and the might of the global economies against West Papua.

Many who are aware appear to nudge the issue aside into the too hard to understand basket. Given the scale of support for the current Indonesian reign of terror by the global powers it is a daunting issue to fathom and comprehend. In order to understand the present however, you must look into the past and by carefully examining the issues and facts, we hope you will assist us in solving this 34 year old problem of injustice, inhumanity and suffering and help us to set West Papua free as an independent nation.

Why is West Papua now part of Indonesia? It was not always so. For the past 45,000 years, as long as the Aboriginal people have been in Australia, New Guinea has been home to the Papua Melanesian peoples; comprising nearly a thousand distinct tribal cultures and languages, a fifth of the worlds total of both. During the last Ice Age, when the sea level was much lower than now, New Guinea then part of continental Australia, saw a great deal of contact between the Aboriginal and Papuan peoples. Evidence of which can still be found, given that much of the flora and fauna of Australia is also found in New Guinea.

At this time the land areas of Asia and greater Australia were never joined. An ocean lay between them allowing for very different cultural paths and racial identities to exist. During the colonial period in South East Asia the Papuan people fiercely resisted foreign intrusion and many attempts at settlement by British and Dutch attempts in 1793 and 1828 failed due to disease and the hostility of the Papuan people.

In 1848 in far away Europe, the island of New Guinea was carved up like a Christmas cake between Holland, Britain and Germany, without either nation having an administrative presence at this time. Late in the century, spurred on by British and German activity in the east, Holland established an administrative post in 1898 and continued to maintain its 15 outposts in Dutch New Guinea until the Japanese invasion in 1942.

With the end of the Second World War in 1945, neighbouring Indonesia quickly declared independence from the Netherlands in the same year and claimed West Papua, East Timor, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo as part of its territory. In 1949 Indonesia gained full independence from Holland and attempted to claim and gain West Papua as part of its nationhood. Holland retained its colonial presence in West Papua and prepared to bring about its independence. Negotiations at this time between the Dutch and Indonesia included the active participation of West Papuans including the current Chairman of the OPM Mr Moses Werror. Through the 1950's Indonesia persistently maintained their claim to Papua and when invited to present their claim to an International Court of Law declined, given the fact that they had no legal claim on any part of Greater New Guinea.

A chronology of tyranny.

1950: The South Moluccan Republic is declared and subsequently suppressed by Indonesian military activity.

1957:Australia and Holland work closely together to define a blueprint for West Papuan independence.

The principles were as follows:

1. The Netherlands and Australian Governments base their policies with regard to the territories of New Guinea, for which they are responsible, on the interests and inalienable rights of their inhabitants to conformity with the provisions and the spirit of the United Nation charter.

2. The territories of Netherlands New Guinea, the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea and Papua, are geographically and ethnically related and future development of their respective populations must benefit from co-operation in policy and administration.

3. The Australian and Netherlands governments are therefore pursuing, and will continue to pursue, policies directed toward the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples in the territories in a manner which recognises this ethnological and geographical affinity.

4. At the same time, the two governments will continue, and strengthen, the co-operation existing betwen their respective administrations in the territories.

5. In so doing the two governments are determined to promote an uninterupted development of this process

Unfortunately this positive statement toward self determination was never signed.

1961: a West Papuan Council is elected, a national anthem composed, a flag designed and 1970 set as the date for West Papuan independence. This infuriated Indonesia and it duly responded by sending in an invasion force of 1,419 guerilla soldiers, with the intention of sending in a main invasion force later. War between Holland and Indonesia appeared inevitable with the likelihood of Australia becoming involved.

1962: It was at this point that John F Kennedy intervened. The Soviet Union had brokered a billion dollar arms deal with Indonesia and the US countered this with a comparable deal viewing Indonesia as a prize too important to lose to the Communist Bloc. Scared of the possible threat of further communist expansion in SE Asia and the looming Vietnam conflict Kennedy pressured Holland and Australia to cease all involvement in granting West Papua independence, and offers West Papua to Indonesia.

Secret negotiations ensued, which involved no West Papuans (unlike in 1949), to give West Papua to Indonesia. A proviso was included, that there would be a United Nations administrated 'Act of Free Choice' by 1969, where the West Papuan people could decide their own future. To remain with Indonesia, or be independent?

On the 1st of October 1962 the Dutch administration handed over West Papua to an interim United Nations administration. The Dutch Prime Minister at the time later lamented on the giving up of West Papua to Indonesia..."We were forced into it against our will and against everything we honour. The Netherlands could not count on the support of its allies and for that reason we had to sign." Gregory Pemberton, 'All the Way: Australia's Road to Vietnam'. Allen and Unwin 1987, p103.

Another interesting statement was that of R Komer a then senior member of the United States Security Council..."West New Guinea is one of those thorny issues which have slid too far for any interim solution. We must bite the bullet, for this issue is heading toward a crisis, and the stakes involved - Indonesia's potential swing to a pro Soviet stance- dictate cold realpolitik... So to gain us time in Indonesia, and to fight what will be at best a protracted conflict for what at best will be a pro-western neutralism, West New Guinea is the price." Pemberton, Ref 8. p87.

He further went to say; "We must sell them (Australia) the proposition that a pro-Bloc (if not Communist) Indonesia is an entirely greater threat to them (and us) than Indonesian possession of a few thousand square miles of cannibal land." Pemberton, Ref 8. p.101.

A quote from Kennedy is similarly revealing, as recorded by the Dutch Ambassador, Dr Van Roijen.."Those Papuans of yours are 700,000 and living in the Stone Age."Robin Osbourne, 'Indonesia's Secret War", Allen and Unwin, 1985 p.26.

It is very clear that West Papua was a Cold War sacrifice. An emerging nation and its indigenous peoples were thrown, without regard, completely against the charter of the United Nations, into the grip of an Indonesia ferocious to acquire more territory and increase its status and power in the world.

1963: On 1 May Indonesia became the new colonial power in West Papua New Guinea. In order to thwart West Papuan independence with the forth coming Act of Free Choice (date yet to be decided), the elected West Papuan Council is disbanded, West Papuan flags are banned and burnt, singing of the West Papuan national anthem 'O, My Land Papua' is banned, the founding of any new political parties is banned, and anything else to do with West Papuan independence is burnt and destroyed.

Revolts by West Papuans soon followed, which were me with fierce suppression by Indonesia, who was not going to risk losing its newly gained prize to independence minded West Papuans. The OPM resistance movement is founded to fight for West Papuan independence.

1964: Indonesia attempts to invade Malaysia, but is defeated by British and Commonwealth forces. The situation in West Papua is not reviewed by the United Nations in the light of Indonesia's aggressive expansionist ambitions.

1967: Indonesia enters into agreements with Freeport (a New Orleans company and now Indonesia's largest single tax payer) for mining rights in West Papua's mountains.

1969: The United Nations is fully responsible for organizing a FREE vote of all eligible West Papuans to determine their future. This 'Act of Free Choice' was and still is as West Papuans are concerned an illegal Act. Instead of the United Nations organizing, administering and controlling the conduct of a 'Free Vote', Indonesia organized and controlled the whole process. The electoral procedure was conducted under tight Indonesian control and 1,026 selected elders were made to vote. Of this 1,026 votes, only 20% of these were observed by UN officials for Indonesia initiated the vote with the UN observers still in Java, who then rushed to West Papua to catch the remaining 200 votes. The voting procedure was simple. Selected male elders were made to stand in front of a line and then lectured and threatened by Indonesian military and government personnel. The demands were clear cut. To step over the line was to vote for remaining an Indonesian province, to stay behind the line was to declare yourself a traitor. The Indonesian Government declared the 'Free Vote' a moral victory and the United Nations accepted the engineered outcome. West Papua is now accepted as a province of Indonesia.

From a United Nations view-point, it could be claimed, that the United Nations accepted West Papua being incorporated into Indonesia on the basis of a mere 200 votes. The bottom line was and still is, that Indonesia had the full approval and support of the United States to ensure that it retained control of West Papua New Guinea. With the powerful Freeport lobby and mining bonanza about to begin, the human rights of..."a few thousand canibals living in the Stone Age".. were not allowed to get in the way. ' Osbourne, Ref 5.p.26.'

1975: Papua New Guinea gained independence on the 16th of September. Two months later Indonesia invaded East Timor. Australia fails to give any assistance or support to the East Timorese, even though five Australian reporters are killed without cause by Indonesian troops.

1978: The Australian Government accepted the Indonesian annexation of East Timor, even though to this day the United Nations has not done so.

1989: Australia signed a pact with Indonesia to share the resources of the Timor Gap, recognising the Indonesian invasion and annexation of East Timor.

1996: January the 8th. In a daring raid, OPM guerillas captured 14 Indonesian and 7 European scientists and held them hostage in an attempt to raise international awareness to their cause. Their aims are achieved and the hostages are safely released on March the 12th to International Red Cross negotiators acting on behalf of their families.

March. Coordinated with the release of the hostages and in the aim of maintaining their global profile, the OPM goes one step further towards independence by entering a homepage on the worldwide computer internet.


There is a slow and insidious racial and cultural holocaust happening now in West Papua, which the vast majority of the world community has shown virtually no interest in or concern with. West Papuan's, now numbering 900,000 are fast being overwhelmed in their own land by a million Indonesians. At this time whilst the OPM resistance movement is fighting valiently in the jungles and mountains of West Papua, a determined diplomatic effort is being conducted via the press, internet, and Friends of West Papua.
I hope you can help.

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