Tag Archives: act of free choice

Movement Against Freeport is set up by Papuan Students

Bintang Papua,28 October 2011

A number of UNCEN student organisations along with the KNPB, the
National Committee for West Papua, have announced the establishment of
a movement to oppose Freeport. They regard this company as having been
the cause of many problems in Papua. The students unfurled two banners,
one of which depicts the US flag intertwined with the logo of Freeport,

The new organisation is called People’s Movement Against Freeport Crimes
– Gerklaf. The co-ordinator of the new organisation is Fanny Kogoya and
Bovid Defa is the secretary.At the end of the ceremony, the US flag was
set on fire. This opposition movement regards the presence of Freeport
as having come about as the result of a political contract between the
USA and its allies in order to ensure the continuance of Papua within
the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.

The integration of Papua within Indonesia, according to wording on the
banners, goes back to 1963 and the New York Agreement of 1963, the
contract concluded with Freeport in 1967, the Act of Free Choice in 1969
and the Bunker Proposal [Bunker was the US diplomat who was involved in
the conclusion of the New York Agreement.].

Before the declaration was announced, the leaders of eight student
organisation delivered speeches. Fanny Kogoya said that the new movement
would press for the consolidation of the movement throughout the whole
of Papua, to strengthen opposition to Freeport.

They also said that any plans to renegotiate the contract with Freeport
should involve indigenous Papua people.[This is a reminder of the fact
that past contracts with Freeport have all been concluded with the
Indonesian government, without the presence of the representatives of
the Papuan people.]

The declaration that was read out by Bovid called on the one hand for
the expulsion of Freeport, while on the other hand saying that Freeport
should become the property of the Papuan people.The words on the banner
were:’The Papuan people must assert their sovereignty over their
natural resources.’

It’s Time To Take A Stand On Papua

via NewMatilda.com

21 Oct 2011

It’s Time To Take A Stand On Papua

By Richard Di Natale

rudd and sby

The violence in West Papua this week is deeply worrying – and raises uncomfortable foreign policy questions for the Australian government, writes Senator Richard Di Natale

Yesterday afternoon news reached my office that unarmed Papuans — women, young people, church leaders, academics, tribal elders — and at least one Australian citizen, were being shot at by the Indonesian security forces.

We now know that at least four people are confirmed dead, scores severely wounded and hundreds have been detained at the police station in Jayapura, the capital of West Papua.

We are deeply concerned that a number of these people including Forkorus Yaboisembut, the Chair of the Papuan Customary Council, were beaten or tortured. Their crime? Reading an aspirational declaration of independence and meeting to discuss how West Papuans might peacefully secure basic freedoms that you and I in Australia take for granted.

It is not my place to get into the politics of independence. That is for the Papuans to decide. It must be said, however, that until there is a free and fair vote of all eligible Papuan citizens in the territory, any claim by the Indonesian government that there is democracy in West Papua will be highly contested.

The fact is that the Australian government and many other western countries were party to a fraudulent transfer of sovereignty during the 1960s. That is not hyperbole. It is fact. Professor Pieter Drooglever and Dr John Saltford have separately documented the travesty of justice that unfolded in West Papua during the transfer from Dutch to Indonesia rule. Less than 0.01 per cent of the population participated in the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969 and those that did were forced to do so.

But this week’s peaceful gathering at Zaccheus Field in Abepura was not about the past. It was about the kind of future that West Papuans want. The Papuans’ desire for freedom is irrepressible. Many of the civil and political rights Papuan people want — like freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, an opening up of the province to foreign media, and respect of land rights — could be realised within the framework of the Indonesian state. By shooting and jailing Papuans who peacefully demand these legitimate rights, the Indonesian government is creating a bigger problem and fuelling political instability.

These events in our nearest neighbour raise serious questions back home. We are we providing funds, training and equipment to the Indonesian Military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, or TNI) and the Police force, including the counter-terrorism police (Detachment 88). There is mounting evidence that they are anything but a positive force for human rights in the region. By furthering our close military ties, we become complicit in acts of repression by the TNI such as that unfolding in West Papua today.

The Australian government has been secretive with regards to these links. We don’t know exactly what kind of military assistance is being supplied to the TNI and the police. The Australian government needs to come clean about the extent and nature of our level of defence cooperation with Indonesia. The shootings in West Papua — and indeed in other places in Indonesia — raise serious questions about what, if anything, the Indonesian military and police have learnt from East Timor. And whether our own government has learned anything, either.

One thing we do know from East Timor is that when violence like this occurs and political rights are continually repressed you can guarantee that West Papuan resistance will continue and eventually become a mainstream issue. West Papua is on our doorstep. I hope we can be good neighbours.

We can not ignore West Papua any longer, and we need to send the strongest possible signal to the Indonesian government that violent repression of peaceful meetings, people merely exercising their right to free speech and assembly, is totally unacceptable.

Indonesia insists it is a democracy. Its constitution guarantees all its citizens the right to free speech and free assembly. We should hold them to this promise by immediately suspending all military assistance to and cooperation with Indonesia. There is no compelling evidence that on the balance of things Australia’s military assistance in Indonesia has improved human rights. I fear that our anti-terrorism support is sometimes being used to harasses and intimidate human rights defenders.

I want to be a part of a Parliament that can encourage the Indonesian government and the West Papuan people to find peaceful and democratic ways to address the root causes of conflict in West Papua. Guaranteeing free speech and releasing political prisoners would be a good first step. The President has promised an open dialogue, and he must keep that promise.

In the meantime those of us in Parliament need to seriously reflect on the kind of relationship we want with Indonesia. For the sake of our West Papuan neighbours, and for Australia’s long-held commitment to human rights, we must be prepared to take a bold stand.

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

with New Matilda.com

7 Oct 2011

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

By Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Renewed strikes at West Papua‘s Grasberg mine have caught the Indonesian government off guard – and signal a shifting power balance in the province, report Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Workers at the Freeport McMoRan mine in West Papua resumed strikes on 15 September after more than six weeks of unresolved negotiation talks with company management.

Increasing numbers of international media are covering the workers’ return to strikes, the first of which ended in July after eight days of work stoppage that halted production at the Grasberg mine.

However, national and international media have focused solely on worker demands for an increase in their hourly pay rate — ignoring the history of Freeport’s unfair and even illegal treatment of the mine’s so-called “non-staff” workers.

West Papuan workers receive the lowest wages ($1.50-$3.00) of any Freeport mining facility in the world, despite the fact that their work accounts for 95 per cent of the company’s consolidated gold production, and a substantial percentage of Freeport’s copper production. According to NASDAQ, Freeport has reaped astonishingly high profits from the low labour costs at the West Papuan site, enabling the company “margins in excess of 60 per cent in past years”.

Indonesian energy minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh estimates the Indonesian government alone could lose as much as $6.7 million in tax revenues, royalties and other payments from Freeport every day the strike carried on. Leaders of the All Indonesian Workers Union (freeport division) have said they will agree to a 25 per cent wage increase (down from demands for increases of up to $200 per hour) but Freeport management is so far refusing to lift their offer higher than 22 per cent.

However, media coverage of the strikes is missing Freeport’s long history of suppressing workers’ rights and union organising in Papua, not to mention the historical context and legacy of poor industrial relations out of which these strikes have emerged.

For one, Freeport McMoRan’s contract of work with the Indonesian government was signed prior to a scheduled referendum on West Papua’s political status. The UN had granted Indonesian temporary control over the region in 1963 but by the time the “Act of Free Choice” of 1969 was ready to proceed, only 1,022 West Papuans — less than 0.01 per cent of the population at the time — participated. In reality there was no referendum and no vote. Papuans were told by Indonesian military generals to vote for Indonesian rule or have “their tongues cut out”. Unsurprisingly, in this atmosphere of intimidation, 100 per cent choose to support West Papua’s incorporation.

But Freeport McMoRan, subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia, did not even wait for this farce. The US Company made a deal with the Indonesian dictator Suharto, who was waging military operations in West Papua at the time. Freeport signed their first contract of work in 1967, two years before the 1969 Act of Free Choice. Under Suharto an authoritarian management style became entrenched. Dissent by workers and the local Papuan landowners were repressed harshly by the military.

Secondly, Indigenous West Papuans’ cultural, and economic livelihoods, which are dependent on a healthy natural environment, have been disrupted by Freeport’s arrival. It is no wonder that local communities resisted both violently and nonviolently to the company’s takeover of large swaths of their territory. In fact, Papuan resistance to Freeport has always been connected to Papuan resistance to Indonesia’s repressive “neocolonial” rule, which has now lasted over 50 years and according to Amnesty International resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people.

Alongside West Papua’s pro-independence movement are workers, both native Papuans and Indonesian migrants, organising for fair pay, basic rights to organise without threats and intimidation from Freeport management, and the provision of equal facilities for local workers as their foreign worker counterparts, including: housing, health care, education, and pension funds.

They are demanding the freedom to organise as workers, to strike and demonstrate without threats, intimidation, or interference from Freeport management or local police, and without penalty of receiving no pay or the risk of losing their jobs. Freeport has now engaged global security contractors Securicor (now G4S), to break the strike.

Union leaders are maintaining vigilant documentation of violations by the various security apparatus. Since resuming the strike, workers have received messages from officials viaSMS, and visits to their family homes by Freeport staff and security who threaten to withhold pay and fire striking workers. Barracks near the mine’s entrance in Tembagapura were raided by officials, some whom were allegedly foreign nationals, who according to workers ordered miners to sign an agreement to end the strike.

The most disturbing incident was the attempted shooting of Union Chairman Sudiro while in his home on September 11, 2011 by “persons unknown”, a phrase in Indonesia that is often shorthand for the Indonesian military.

In a significant escalation of resistance, leaders of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes — the two customary landowner groups who own the land Freeport is mining — are supporting the striking workers. Senior tribal leaders Anis Natkime, Canisius Amareyau, Viktor Beanal and youth leaders Jecky Amisim and Donny Emayauta have written to Freeport CEO James Moffett and Freeport President Richard Adkerson to ask the company to agree to worker’s demands.

Failing this the tribal leaders threaten to close Freeport’s entire operations from the Amungme highlands of the 4,200 metre high Grasberg mine down to the Kamoro lowland port of Amapare. In doing so, these leaders are throwing off decades of fear and trauma brought about by repressive Indonesian military operations in support of Freeport. Abuses include the forced removal of villages and massacres by Indonesian military and police personnel who have never been held to account.

Although Indigenous communities living in and around the site of the Grasberg mine are supposed to receive a percentage of the profits from mining extraction as a part of an agreement known as the “1 per cent fund” community leaders claim the funds, which are routed through Jakarta, never reach the local community. The fund has also created conflict and competition between tribes.

While there is no guarantee that workers and community leaders will achieve their goals or address long-standing grievances, the worker strikes have caught Freeport and the government off guard, and awoken them to the reality that they are no longer uncontested power-holders in the region. Instead they will be forced to shift their practices one way or another, or else face serious economic and reputational losses.

The strike also threatens to have much wider repercussions than mere pay rises. West Papuan independence leaders in other parts of the country are preparing to organise the third national gathering of Papuan resistance groups. These leaders are watching the events at Freeport closely. When the three-day Third Papua Congress opens in Jayapura/Port Numbay on 16 October you can be sure that grievances around Freeport will be high on the agenda.

New Hope for West Papuan – or yet another False Dawn?

by Kim Peart

Is Indonesia about to lose its grip on the western half of New Guinea, a territory the size of France and ancient homeland of the Melanesian West Papuans?

Addressing questions at a press conference in New Zealand yesterday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, made the following statement:

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at today's press conference in Auckland. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

“Again this issue should also be discussed at the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. And when it comes, again, to whether you are an independent state or non self-governing territory, whatever, the human rights is an inalienable and fundamental principle of the United Nations. We will do all to ensure that the people in West Papua, their human rights should be respected.” [1]


To read of West Papua being raised in the context of the UN Decolonisation Committee by the Secretary-General is quite startling, for one specific reason: West Papua was removed from the list of colonised territories in 1969. This is unlike the situation in East Timor, which had not been removed from this list, becaming the trigger for their 1999 vote on self determination.

East Timor was a clear case of invasion in 1975, brutal suppression by a foreign power and liberation in a baptism of blood and fire in 1999. On the other hand, the West Papuan people were the victim of a brutal play of Realpolitiks during the Cold War.

After Indonesia gained their independence from the Dutch in 1949, Holland retained their territory in western New Guinea, preparing the indigenous population for independence. In 1957 Australia signed an agreement with the Netherlands to work toward the independence of the whole island of New Guinea and many Australians were involved on the ground in this preparation. [2]

In 1961 the Dutch administration formed a local parliament, including indigenous representatives and raised the West Papuan morning star flag, which flew along with the Dutch tri-colour across the territory and 1970 set as the year of independence. In this bright dawn of Papuan democracy, Australia helped to raised the hopes and expectations of the people of West Papua for freedom and self-determination.

Since 1949 Indonesia had been demanding control of the western half of New Guinea, even though it was, like the eastern half of the island, an ancient Papuan land. The Indonesian response was now to begin invading and a full-blown war with Indonesia appeared imminent, in which Australia would have fought along-side Papuans trained by the Dutch to defend their island homeland.

Wishing to avoid being drawn into a war with Indonesia, the United States intervened and told the Dutch to get out, Australia to butt out and gave the green light for Indonesia to take over half of New Guinea, as the new colonial master. This was deeply humiliating for the Netherlands and also Australia and brought into question the true independence of Australian foreign policy.

In this play of Realpolitiks, West Papuan lives, land and resources were used by Washington to buy a nominally pro-Western alliance with Indonesia and also access to Indonesian and Papuan resources. This action was nothing short of a slave trade and theft of land and property on an unimaginable scale.

The West Papuan morning star flag, which first officially flew in New Guinea in 1961, when Australia was working on the ground with the Dutch toward the independence of the whole island of New Guinea.


Indonesia became the new colonial power in New Guinea in 1963 and the atrocities began, with as many as 400,000 Papuans being killed in an ongoing genocide, which has pushed the Papuan aside to make way for Indonesian occupation and immigration. When a vote for self-determination was held in 1969, the United Nations allowed Indonesia to run it completely and even the UN observers on the ground only witnessed 20 percent of the vote.

Could it be called a vote, when 1025 selected men were lectured under the shadow of guns, before being invited to step over a line drawn in the dirt? An armed rebellion was going in in West Papua at the time. Wishing to avoid the prospect of war with Indonesia, most nations voted to allow West Papua to be incorporated into Indonesia and be removed from the list of colonial territories. A few newly independent African nations objected.

Would the United Nations get away with such a vote today. Such a bizarre process would not have been accepted in East Timor in 1999.

If the West Papuan people deserve natural justice, then they have a right to a genuine vote on self-determination. If Indonesia wishes to hold its head high as a truly democratic nation, then they will agree to this happening. If Australia wishes to regain honour with West Papua, then we will support the rights of the West Papuan people to self determination, just as we did the East Timorese and the Papuans of eastern New Guinea.

Sadly, all Australians have blood on our hands when it comes to West Papua, because we did not stand and demand justice, but went along with a brutal theft, slave trade and on-going atrocity Just across our northern border, many West Papuans have been shot on sight for raising the morning star flag, or sent to jail for 20 years.

Filep Karma was jailed for 15 years in 2004 for raising the West Papuan flag and when recently offered remission by the Indonesian Government, refused to accept this, saying, “he preferred to serve out his normal sentence and demanded the Indonesian Government to apologise to the Papuan people for all the atrocities it has caused.” [3]

For decades West Papuan supporters around the World have raised the question of the West Papuan right to self-determination and the voice of the indigenous Maori was added to this throng at the recent Pacific Island Forum being held in New Zealand, when the leader of the Mana Party, Hone Harawira, raised the West Papuan issue with Ban Ki-moon, declaring:

“Can I please ask that you support peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous People of West Papua and Indonesia, to put an end to the killings there and to find a strategy to get Indonesia out of a land that isn’t theirs.” [4]

1. United Nations 7 September 2011 (full transcript included below)

2. p. 882, ‘Current Notes on International Affairs – November 1957’,
Department of External Affairs, Canberra

3. Engage Media 29 August 2011

4. 3 News 8 September 2011

Statement from the West Papua solidarity gathering at Nga Wai o Horotiu, Tamaki Makaurau / Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

from Peace Movement Aotearoa

 8 September 2011

We are very encouraged by the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, at a media conference in Auckland yesterday, 7 September 2011, that West Papua should be discussed by the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.

Noting with appreciation the Secretary-General’s statement that “whether you are an independent state or a non-self-governing territory or whatever, the human rights is inalienable and a fundamental principle of the United Nations”, and “we will do all to ensure” that the human rights of the people of West Papua are respected, we therefore call on:

The United Nations Secretary General to act without delay, and:

  • appoint a Special Representative to investigate the situation in West Papua – to review the circumstances and outcome of the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’, as well as the contemporary situation; and
  • use his good offices to persuade the Indonesian government to allow free access to West Papua for media representatives from the international community and for non-governmental human rights organisations.

The Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in Auckland to act without delay, and:

  • send a fact-finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation;
  • support the West Papuan people in their call for peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government;
  • grant observer status to West Papuan representatives who support the people of West Papua’s right of self-determination; and
  • recommend to the United Nations General Assembly that West Papua be put back on the agenda of the Decolonisation Committee.

The New Zealand government to act without delay, and:

  • play a role in mediating and beginning the process of peaceful dialogue between West Papuan representatives and the Indonesian government; and
  • cease all military ties with Indonesia until the human rights of the people of West Papua are respected.

Civil society to:

  • support the West Papuan call for peace and justice, and for a process of peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government; and
  • take every opportunity to support West Papuans working for peace, justice, human rights and environmental sustainability.

Participating organisations: New Zealand non-governmental organisations Bicultural Desk of the Auckland Catholic Diocese, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian World Service, CORSO Inc., Indonesia Human Rights Committee, Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Philippine Migrant Centre, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Aotearoa Section; New Zealand based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji; and Australian non-governmental organisations Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights,  Medical Association for Prevention of War, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australian Province), Pax Christi Australia and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Australia Section.

Photos from some of the West Papua solidarity actions in Auckland: are available at http://www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa
Formatted copy of this statement: is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/wp-ngos0911.pdf