West Papuans were never allowed the proper act of self-‐determination guaranteed by the inalienable right to self-‐determination as expressed in UN human rights Covenants and by the 1962 New York Agreement, a treaty between the Netherlands and Indonesia handing provisional administration of the territory from one country to the other.
Indonesia arrived in West Papua in 1963 and immediately began violently suppressing all West Papuan aspirations for independence. West Papuans have suffered horrendously under Indonesian rule, including thirty years under the Suharto dictatorship and now nearly twenty under a more democratic, but ultimately colonial, regime. More than a hundred thousand (and perhaps hundreds of thousands) have died because of Indonesia’s annexation. Human rights violations, amounting to ‘crimes against humanity’, continue with impunity.
Indonesian state authorities, Indonesian settlers and Indonesian (as well as foreign) companies have steadily but surely assumed control over every aspect and arena of West Papuan life. Indonesian claims to have developed West Papua’ ignore the fact that development has primarily benefited Indonesians not Papuans. Ethnically, culturally and politically, West Papua is part of the Melanesian Pacific, not Southeast Asia. Papuans are black-‐skinned Melanesians like the people in neighbouring Papua New Guinea, the Solomons Islands, and Vanuatu. Indonesia and especially its security forces treat West Papuans as sub-‐human because of this racial difference. For decades, the Indonesian government has sent tens of millions of Indonesians from more densely populated regions to its outer, more sparsely populated islands, including West Papua..A parallel voluntary migration continues to this day. In the early 1960s, indigenous Papuans constituted 97% of the population. Today, Papuans are almost a minority in the territory and are already outnumbered in the towns and cities, along the coasts and in the major areas of plantation agriculture. Their culture, the very names of their places, their words and rhythms, the skills, traditions and knowledge that have served for millennia, are being discounted, wiped out, leaving them bewildered and unprepared in an alien world.
Amnesty International has estimated that more than one hundred thousand (or about 10 percent of the population) have been killed by Indonesian security forces. Other estimates of the deaths, are in the several hundred thousands, one quarter or more of the indigenous Papuans.
On-‐going violations of the human rights of indigenous West Papuans, including torture, extra-‐judicial execution, forced disappearances and the beating and shooting of peaceful protestors, amounting in some instances to ‘crimes against humanity,’ with estimates ranging up to a half-‐million killings during Indonesia’s 54 year occupation of the territory
A Yale University report is one of several defining Indonesian rule as genocidal.
The worst period of killing occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, at the height of the Suharto military dictatorship, when West Papua was officially a “military operations area.” Although an even greater percentage of East Timorese likely died after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, the exterminationist violence employed is the same and Indonesian racist attitudes of superiority towards “subhuman” black Papuans is greater still.
CALL for ACP-EU Resolution on West Papua
· ACP-EU Parliamentarians can voice their concern and they can support Papuan rights, including the right to self-‐determination by rallying to the call from the 8 Pacific Island Countries for justice and respect for the right to self –determination.
· They can get regional and global intergovernmental bodies such the African Union, CARICOM and other regional and sub-regional multilateral bodies to pass resolutions and restrict commercial and other relations with Indonesia.
· As member states of the United Nations ACP –EU countries can insist on an internationally supervised referendum on independence (or at least the re-‐listing of West Papua as a non-‐self-‐governing territory).
· Support with one voice the proposed resolutions in the upcoming Joint ACP-EU parliament meeting in month of October and also the resolution on West Papua to be adopted at ACP Council of Ministers meeting in November 2017
· Call on ACP-EU Parliamentarians to urge their respective governments to address the issue of West Papua at the multilateral level and assist Indonesia to resolve this 54 year crisis.