By Selpius Bobii writing from Abepura State Prison, Jayapura
December 24, 2013
Every religion teaches values of goodness and kindness and has teachings that are intended to create happiness and peace on this earth and in eternity. We hear so many people speak of the importance of peace, but the reality is that it’s not that simple to realise peace in our everyday lives. In the Papuan province of Indonesia it feels like peace is so far from becoming a reality for the indigenous people who live there.
Of late the Cenderawasih XVII Military Commander in West Papua has been coining the phrase “Peace is beautiful” and yet at the same time the Indonesian Armed Forces continue to be the number one culprit committing acts of violence and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua. Behind the mask of these sweet words the Armed Forces are clearly acting very much against the creation of peace in Papua.
Peace can be realised in a place when every person, every group, every faction, respects the rights of others; and this extends to nations and tribes. Where each is able to exercise their rights and at the same time fulfils their obligations towards others. It seems however in Papua that the realisation of peace is something that’s incredibly difficult to achieve, with the root cause of that being the lack of recognition of the very basic political rights of the people of Papua by all three Indonesia, the USA and the United Nations (UN).
With the USA and UN’s active support throughout the entire process of annexation of Papua into Indonesia in the 1960’s, they indeed played a part in the actions of violence and atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua. They achieved their goal of making Papua into ‘the kitchen of the world’, opening it to the many international companies that have been stripping Papua of its rich natural resources ever since. It was not to end at the annexation of Papua, as they have continued these last more than 50 years to support Indonesia’s hold on Papua which in turn keeps the door open for exploitation of the land. There have been various forms of aid and in particular joint programs in security and defence, which of course are critical to Indonesia’s continued domination of Papua.
The Indonesian Armed Forces have by intention made Papua into a centre of conflict, but for what end? In so doing they create a situation where the indigenous people can be paralysed, can be annihilated and the world just keeps quiet, with Indonesia saying they are dealing with the conflict. The result? Papua remains permanently part of Indonesia and its natural resources can be exploited with ease by international parties.
Let’s not be fooled that the partnerships going on between Indonesia and other nations of the world in the areas of security and defence are aimed at peace building and protecting the people of the region as claimed. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reality is they have quite the opposite goal! The Indonesian Armed Forces are the main agents intentionally creating violence, bondage and theft of natural resources, discrimination, marginalisation, injustice, terror, intimidation and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous peoples of the land of Papua. Their military and civilian operations both overt and covert are intended to slowly but surely annihilate ethnic Papuans.
The many forms of both visible and hidden violence and humanitarian atrocities undertaken by the state of Indonesia against indigenous Papuans are intended to stifle the political aspirations of Papuans for independence and at the same time annihilate the people. In the face of this continued violence against their people the indigenous peoples of Papua continue to express their opposition to the many human rights violations by peaceful and dignified means, primarily by means of peaceful demonstration. Yet even the narrowest space for a voice calling for democracy has been blocked by the Armed Forces in recent times, especially by the Provincial level of Indonesian Police. The Provincial Police are known for their practice of taking advantage of occasions when there are peaceful demonstrations to create conflict and to terrorise, torture, kill, arrest and imprison Papuans who struggle peacefully for change. Indonesia’s Armed Forces are constantly manipulating activities of the Struggle to create incidents of violence. Nevertheless Papuans continue to struggle peacefully in keeping with their decision at the 2000 2nd National Papuan Congress.
And so in the midst of all this, now it is Christmas. Where all parties in Papua hear of the message of ‘the coming of the King of Peace’. A message that reminds humanity that Jesus Christ came to bring peace to this earth. A message that starts to have real meaning only when entire communities of humans make space to allow for peace in their hearts. To that end let’s all prepare our hearts with simplicity, faithfulness, honesty and love for one another. We are each one of us reminded by the message of Christmas.
It is dearly hoped that the message of Christmas will also touch hearts and bring awareness to those who are committing the many forms of violence against indigenous Papuans. That there might be a commitment to bring an end to all forms of oppression towards indigenous Papuans and to enter into dialogue between Jakarta and Papua with a neutral facilitator. To reach that end we need to be ready and willing to humble our hearts, to be faithful, honest and to act in love. Only in that way can we bring peace to the land of Papua. We are all called to bring an end to the latent conflicts in Papua and to create peace, no matter who we are and wherever we may be.
Peace and joy at Christmas to all and throughout 2014!
- 1. The Dutch previously tried to prepare Papua to become an independent nation whilst still under their control, with those preparations reaching a peak on 1 December 1961. However less than a month later on 19 December 1961 Indonesia by a political and military invasion marked by what’s known as Trikora (a three prong command which demanded the dismantlement of the “puppet” Papuan state created by the Dutch; the raising of the Indonesian Red and White flag over Papua; and preparation for a general mobilisation in Papua) succeeded in annexing Papua into the Indonesian Republic.
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee imprisoned in Abepura State Prison, Jayapura, Papua, for another Christmas.
- Bobii: Manufactured Scenario resulting in Death of a Papuan Warrior (westpapuamedia.info)
- Bobii: INDONESIA CAUSES DELAY IN MSG FORUM DECISION ON WEST PAPUAN MEMBERSHIP (westpapuamedia.info)
- Shootings, killings, beatings, arrests as Hundreds flee to jungle after Indon Police open fire on peaceful KNPB demo (westpapuamedia.info)
- Human Rights Day in West Papua Blockaded (pacific.scoop.co.nz)
- A Tale of a Flag (westpapuamedia.info)
- Key OPM Figure Danny Kogoya dies from injuries from Densus 88 shooting (westpapuamedia.info)
- Free Papua Movement Army General dies (pacific.scoop.co.nz)