Free West Papua from “the Act of No Choice”.

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(Photo’s credits to “Free West Papua” Website)

“It’s time the United Nations made amends for its collusion with Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua in the 1960s. The people of West Papua have a right to self-determination. The UN should supervise a referendum to allow a genuine act of free choice.”

Peter Tatchell, Human Rights campaigner

West Papua has been fighting for self-determination since the ‘Morning Star’ flag was raised and the Congress of West Papua declared independence in 1961. It seems logical when a country gains independence, it gains the right to self-determination as well. Not in this case though.

After ten years of transaction process from Dutch control to independence, West Papuans faced other ten years of agony that revealed to be endless. The Indonesian military invaded and occupied the territory, killed and imprisoned thousands of Papuans. Meanwhile the USA had intervened in 1962 and had negotiated an agreement between The Netherlands and Indonesia. The results turned out “well” for a moment; it gave control of West Papua to Indonesia promising to Papuans the right to self-determination. West Papuans were never consulted and the right was never exercised.

Up to now over 500.000 West Papuan civilians have been killed, a number that suits the term genocide. The indigenous population has been victim of severe human rights violations, such as freedom of speech and expression, and thousands have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since the invasion around 50 years ago.  The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights prepared a full report on “Rape and Other Human Rights Abuses by the Indonesian Military in Irian Jaya (West Papua), Indonesia”.

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(Photo’s credits to “Free West Papua” Website)

West Papuan natural richness and biodiversity have been deeply exploited and deteriorated by Multinational Companies. The Freeport is the largest gold and copper mine in the world and has caused permanent environmental devastation to West Papuans’ sacred lands. Although West Papua hosts this huge ‘money-provider’, Papuan workers earn 1,50 dollars per hour in wages, while companies such as Freeport, Rio Tonto and BP, and the Indonesian government, get richer and richer. Indonesia awarded the rights to the US company Freeport-McMoRan in the 1960s to mine the Papuan territory, of course without asking permission, and even ‘smarter’ was the act of signing the contract with the company before West Papua’s referendum took place to decide whether to remain part of Indonesia or not. The referendum was a sham and only 1,025 people out of 1 million were allowed to vote, under severe threats by Indonesian military – West Papua “voted” to remain with Indonesia.

The ‘Act of Free Choice’ was turned into an ‘Act of No Choice’.

This is just an overview of injustice, exploitation and devastation occurring inWest Papua. Check the Website to stay informed and support the campaign “Free West Papua”. Raising awareness is always a good step to make, share this article or the official campaign website on your Facebook or Twitter accounts!

Laura Zuffi

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