By Selpius Bobii, exclusive for West Papua Media
January 3, 2014
Throughout previous colonial periods and still today, colonising states in any location of the world have had the same basic attitude. That is of making the colonised peoples their subjects and seizing the area’s natural resources. Their first focus on taking over a land is always to breakdown and destroy the systems of the culture, whilst at the same time terrorising the people to bring them to submission and killing many in the process.
As the culture of a people is a strength that endures, so it must be broken down to make a people submissive to colonial domination. Once the strength of the culture of the people is broken, then the coloniser can relatively easily master the land and its natural resources. The coloniser then continues to ‘eradicate’ the people off the land by both overt and covert means, making it easily available for its own people to settle and exploit. The instinctive behaviour of the coloniser is aimed at ‘killing and plundering’ and they use whatever means necessary to annihilate the people so they can seize the land and its resources.
In this modern era colonial powers have the very same attitude but they have changed their face and their methods are now ‘tidily wrapped’ in bilateral or multicultural arrangements between nations. But make no mistake, the character of the colonising nations has not changed and they still aim to see peoples bought into submission by whatever means to enable a plundering of their resources and the overpowering of their land. Whilst not obvious to those who aren’t on the receiving end of colonial domination, this ‘tidy wrapping’ of colonial powers methods in modern times is primarily in the form of foreign investment. Developing nations fall for the bait of colonisers’ offering working relationships that will supposedly help them develop.
The giving of humanitarian aid by colonisers to developing countries does not arise from a true humanitarian concern but rather is a ‘way in’. Such instances provide opportunities to the colonising powers to work with local governments, organisations and religions so the latter act as a bridge to persuade the people into surrendering their land and its resources. This they achieve of course through manipulation and trickery combined with the ‘convincing’ approach of violence.
The colonising nations will always seek to smooth the ground and create pre-conditions conducive to meeting their end goal of exploiting a region’s natural resources. They do this in the modern era commonly through donating grants or equipment, or through the provision of humanitarian aid, military training and equipment / grants or monetary loans. We need to take a step back to recognise that colonising powers are not just giving hand-outs from the kindness of their hearts but rather are actually often intentionally creating crises as a way of manipulating developing nations. As in times of desperate need for assistance there arises a ‘way in’ that does not attract international criticism.. These ‘created crises’ have a range of forms including humanitarian crises, monetary crises, government control crises and so on. Alternatively the colonizing power may take advantage of a natural disaster to give aid thereby also providing a way in. Once they have a ‘foot in the door’ they can then set up unilateral or bilateral working relationships with the developing country that provide for foreign investment. (1)
Those types of investment that are potentially most destructive and which can lead to the loss of a people from the face of the earth are primarily investments in mining, large-scale plantations / agriculture and the timber industry. With the most destructive being the mining industry, as the wastes of mining can absolutely destroy the entire living environment and ecosystems. Entire forests are destroyed and with it villages that had relied on the forest to live. This destruction of the living ecosystem indirectly creates an economic and humanitarian crisis that contributes towards annihilation of the local ethnic race.
The global wide investment market has no sense of justice or injustice. That which major investors and their peripheral supporters (eg regional governments) strive for is massive profits and they have eyes for nothing else. The local community at the location of the investment project become but victims and in locations of major works that last for many years as in Papua the list of victims is endless. The land is ransacked, ruined and can no longer yield produce for the people sufficient for their survival. The people in the process are terrorised, tortured, humiliated, raped and killed. Victim after victim without ceasing……..
The land of Papua has long been something akin to a chessboard for the playing out of the economic, political and security interests of the masked colonial powers. Indonesia has had no hesitation to allow many of those countries who are ex-imperialist powers to join the game where there was something to be gained by Indonesia in the process. The massive largely USA owned gold and copper mine PT Freeport in Papua provides clear proof of the mutual ongoing ‘repayment’ from Indonesia to the USA for the latter’s assistance in facilitating the annexation of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia. It’s a fine example of how the game works with masked colonisers playing out their economic and security games. The dynamics that see PT Freeport continuing in Papua reveal the injustice, discrimination, marginalisation, human rights violations and humanitarian atrocities that ensure the continued profitability for those in power. Dynamics that are leading to the destruction of the environment and entire ecosystem, which are leading to the annihilation of the Papuan ethnic race.
The colonising nations hidden behind the masks of investors, have the ideal platform to step up from in Papua. As the government together with certain organisations and religions in Papua are acting as a bridge connecting investors to the local community. The investors real goals have not changed from colonising powers of previous eras, striving to seize the natural resources and the land and to ‘eradicate’ the people in the process by whatever means necessary, hidden or overt. Killing can be direct such as instances where those with customary rights to the land oppose investors and their allies moving in. Or indirect such as where the local community in the area of the mine is killed slowly by the effects of contamination from toxic wastes of their food and water supply; or perhaps through starvation from no longer being able to farm their traditional lands and hence the sicknesses that result when people lose their villages and forests which are the source of their basic necessities of life.
Many nations have for years worked together with the State of Indonesia solely in furtherance of their own economic, political and security interests, to exploit the natural resources of Papua and its people, and so the countless numbers of victims who have fallen in order for those investors and Indonesia to achieve their goals. Indonesia and its allies are all members of the United Nations (UN), but clearly when it comes to the issue of Papua the Declaration of Human Rights and the rule of international law just ‘don’t apply’. It’s time that those nations of the world responsible for the Papua’s subjugation together with the UN, acknowledged their wrongs in the previous period and through to today and break through those wrongs by making a way that acknowledges the independent sovereignty of the nation of Papua at law.
There are independent nations of the world that many years ago successfully landed people on the moon and yet there are still nations such as Papua that have not been given the chance to stand up and walk alone. The determination of the people of Papua to stand and walk alone is strong but they have been knocked down again and again. The matter of bilateral and unilateral working partnerships with other nations that are mutually profitable will of course be organised once Papua becomes recognised as an independent state. What is needed at this time is recognition at law by the UN and other nations of the world of Papua’s sovereign independence. As it is through this recognition that all forms of colonial domination by Indonesia in Papua can be brought to an end.
It is said that every individual, every group and every organisation can be an ‘ambassador for peace’ where they value and protect the human rights of some other person, family, tribe, group or nation, so that all can fully exercise their rights and obligations. Let’s each one of us be as ambassadors to truly realise peace on this earth this New Year.
- Apart from the colonising effect of foreign investment, there is also types of domestic investment with that colonising effect. The domestic coloniser may act alone or work in conjunction with foreign investors to bring about the same ends of plundering the land and its resources and wiping out the local people to achieve that end.
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in Abepura Prison, Jayapura, from where he regularly contributes articles to West Papua Media.