Indonesia gives full backing to Palestinian independence at the United Nations, what about West Papua?


by Victor Yeimo,
International Spokesperson for West Papua National Committee [KNPB]

21st September 2011

[Jayapura]: As the UN General Assembly begins today (21/9) in New York, Indonesia will be in front line of supporting Palestinian efforts to become a member of the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon waves to protestors for West Papua, PIF NZ Sept 2011 (Photo: Henry Yamo/ PMC)

Indonesia has been supporting the Palestinian case ever since they declared their independence. But what about the fate of West Papua which has been under Indonesian rule for half a century?

This week, from 19 to 28 September 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister, Marty Natalegawa, will be representing Indonesia at the UN General Assembly during its 66th session in New York, United States. He previously recalled, in a press release last Thursday (15/9), that Indonesia had recognized the independence of Palestine just a few hours after it had been declared in 1988.

Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of House of Representative’s Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, also stated that agreement had been reached by the Indonesian Parliament and Government, for the full support of Palestinian independence and the Palestinian State bid at the UN General Assembly in New York this week.

As a logic consequence of this backing, Indonesia’s foreign policy should also be shown in its commitment to support the right to independence and the recognition of the sovereignty of the people of West Papua. If Indonesia is aware that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is a state of colonization, then Indonesia has to realize that the occupation of West Papua by Indonesia since 1963 is likewise a state of colonization.

Already too many Palestinians have fallen victims of the Zionist regime of Israel, and already too many West Papuans have fallen victims of the colonialist and militarist regime of Indonesia. It is time for the people of West Papua to set their own destiny, in the same way that the Palestinian people, the people of South Sudan, Kosovo, and others, are deciding their own.

Indonesia as a member of the United Nations should actively participate in promoting and creating world peace. But, what about the fate of the people of West Papua? It has been a while since Indonesia and the international community decided to look away from the suffering of the people of West Papua. West Papuans continue to be victims of the vested interests of Indonesian colonialism and global capitalism on their land.

Because of those interests, the United Nations and Indonesia have been denying the right of independence to the people of West Papua, a right which should have been granted to them in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 1514, through the Decolonization Committee. Indonesia should welcome the statement of UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon in Auckland, New Zealand, on 7 September 2011, when he stated that the issue of West Papua should be discussed again in the UN decolonization committee, a committee which has several times been chaired by none other than Marty Natalegawa.

Pacific cannot be truly free until West Papua is free, say activists

From our partners at Pacific Media Centre

West Papuan protesters demonstrate at Auckland University when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a speech. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Asia-Pacific Journalism, Pacific Media Centre

14 September, 2011

Henry Yamo

Free West Papua” … the Pacific isn’t free until West Papua is free. That is the four-decades-old West Papuan slogan that reverberated for a week as the Pacific islands countries gathered for the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand.

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Dr John Ondawame from the West Papua People’s Representative Office in Vanuatu says: “Our call to the leaders of all Pacific countries is to support the West Papua peoples’ call for peace talks between the government of Indonesia and the people of West Papua.”

Pacific leaders must remember that the Pacific will never be free unless West Papua is free from the current oppression and atrocities that have lasted for more than 40 years caused by the Indonesian government, he says.

Dr Ondawame says their concerns are voiced particularly to their Melanesian neighbour countries to call on the government of Indonesia to take decisive decision on suggested peace talks and recommend a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua.

“We are calling as Melanesian brothers and are very keen to meet with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu who has indicated to support our call,” he says.

“We also want to lobby with leaders from other Melanesian and Pacific countries to support Vanuatu when it raises the West Papua,” he said.

Fundamental right
The member for Te Tai Tokerau electorate and founding leader of the Mana Party in New Zealand, Hone Harawira, says he supports the cause of West Papuans because freedom is a fundamental right.

“As Pacific islanders we can only be totally free if West Papuans who are also from the Pacific are completely free from the current oppression,” says Harawira.

Jo Collins ... abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry  Yamo / PMC

Jo Collins … abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

This was reinforced by the spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, who says the Forum has to realise the abuses have been going on for many years and will not go away.

“People get shot or get burnt; tortures are carried out publicly on the streets so that it creates fear among the people.  The level of spying on West Papuans is very high, starting in villages and into towns and cities,” he says.

West Papua is one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific region. The international and Pacific governments should pay more attention to the level of torture and atrocities being experienced by the people.

Dr Ondawame says the freedom of West Papua is a Pacific issue that has received “embarrassingly  little” attention from Pacific countries while the United States and United Kingdom have made their position clear, calling for constructive and peaceful dialogue.

“At least Melanesian countries must act and we are pleased that Vanuatu is the only country that has come forward to firmly support the aspirations and independence of West Papua while our very close neighbour PNG has been silent and has been working closely with Indonesia,” he says.

Call for UN action
The United Nations cannot do much with human rights issues in West Papua unless Pacific Island countries unite and call for UN action.

Rex Rumakiek ... seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Rex Rumakiek … seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPCNL) Rex Rumakiek says: “West Papua has been part of the Pacific since the establishment of the South Pacific Commission and also as founding member of the Pacific Conference of Churches set up in 1956.

“And so it is timely for our Pacific brothers to adhere to our concerns when the opportunity arose. We are here to seek that support.”

Rumakiek says the people of West Papua will continue to take up the call until a peaceful solution to the problems is found, ending the shameful atrocities encountered.

Meanwhile, activist Paula Makabory says their struggle is not a fight against the Indonesian government but also against imperialism and neo-colonialism.  It is about being Melanesian within Indonesia.

“Shouting West Papua or free West Papua or even displaying the West Papua flag in West Papua has landed people in jail for 15-20 years or have been beaten very badly that some eventually succumb to their injuries.”

She says even though Indonesia has rectified civil and political rights under the UN treaty, West Papuans are constantly under military surveillance and humiliated every now and then.

Their united call is for the Forum to support their call for a peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government and to grant West Papuan representatives observer status at their annual conferences.

The West Papuans believe that the Forum cannot say it promotes regional stability, while overlooking and neglecting the deadliest issue that has dragged on for over four decades.

Henry Yamo is a postgraduate journalist on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University’s School of Communication Studies.

More coverage on the West Papua issue at the Pacific Islands Forum

LP3BP protests after TV journalist beaten by local district chief in South Sorong

JUBI, 9 September 2011

Once again, violence has been used in Papua, this time against a television journalist  working for the local TV station in South Sorong, TOP TV. Mufriadi who reports on the district of South Sorong was severely beaten  by the bupati – district chief – of South Sorong in West Papua while covering an assault on the office of the district chief by local people.

‘We received information from Mufriardi by phone who said he had been attacked and beaten by the bupati, Otto Ihalauw and his assistant, Marthen who is a member of the police force, along with four other policemen.,’ Amir Siregar  told the press.

Siregar said that  Ihalauw’s action was a crime and he should be detained by the local police force.’It was a criminal act and he can be detained without waiting for the permission of the President, in accordance with the law on regional governance and guidance for police investigations.’

Siregar said that after Mufriardi was beaten, his handy camera was seized  and he was taken to a room at the bupati’s office for questioning.

Mufriadi  explained that he had  received a request by phone to cover the assault being made on the bupati’s office by people who own traditional rights to the  land .’But as soon as  I arrived, I was summoned by  the bupati’s assistant who is a member of the police force. I was taken to the bupati’s office. The bupati came out of his car and slapped me in the face, after which I was subjected to beating by  his assistants which lasted for about ten minutes.I have no idea why I was beaten  but I was subjected to verbal abuse and then they asked me to write a report along the lines that they wanted.’

Viktor Mambor, chairman of AJI, the Independent Alliance of Journalists in Papua,  said that he would support moves by TOP TV to seek legal action and report the incident to the authorities.


The Executive-Director of LP3BH, the Manokwari-based human rights organisation has made a strong protest against the action by the bupati against Otto Ihalauw. Yan Christian Warinussy described the action of the bupati as a crime which should be investigated in accordance with Law/1981.

He went on to describe the bupati’s action as an act of intimidation against the activities of journalists as stipulated in the law on the well as a crime under the Indonesian Criminal Code. He called on the local police chief to arrest the bupati  and his assistants  as well as the members of the police force who were  involved in the incident.

Such activities should not be allowed to happen again, said Warinussy and he said that speaking on behalf of human rights activists throughout West Papua, he called on the chief of police in South Sorong to take firm action against the criminal actions of the bupati. He said that the people of West Papua should strongly condemn such attempts of officials to take the law into their own hands,

Warinussy also called on DAP, the Customary Council of  Papua  and all components of the Papuan people tocall for those responsible for these criminal acts to be brought to account, because a bad precedent  has been set for the activities of the governments in South Sorong and throughout the province of West Papua.
He said that the governor of West Papua should also report the incident to the minister of the interior, to ensure that the matter in dealt with in accordance with the laws in force. All journalists working in West Papua should give their full support to Mufriadi in this matter.

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

NZ: Harawira discusses West Papua with Ban Ki-moon

Mana Party Hone Harawira is trying to initiate mediation between the Indonesian Government and the indigenous people of West Papua by the UN (NZPA pic)

By Lloyd Burr

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira took the opportunity to talk about the indigenous affairs of Indonesia with foreign delegates at the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland yesterday.

Mr Harawira called for the United Nations to support peace talks between the indigenous people of the Indonesian province of West Papua and the Indonesian Government.

One of the delegates he spoke to at the Forum was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Harawira says he “took the opportunity with both hands”.

Mr Harawira released this press statement this morning:

It’s not often that you get to meet somebody as important as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations so Hone Harawira, MANA leader and MP for Tai Tokerau, took the opportunity with both hands.

“Welcome to Aotearoa, Mr Secretary General,” said Mr Harawira. “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.”

Harawira met the UN Secretary General at the formal welcome for all the leaders attending the Pacific Forum, which was held yesterday at The Cloud down on the Auckland waterfront.

“Pity I didn’t have some information packs to hand out because they were all there,” said Harawira, “but I did manage to speak to a number of the leaders about West Papua and I think some of them quietly agreed with the suggestion that Indonesia quit West Papua as soon as possible.”

Back in the early 1960s when the former Dutch New Guinea was being prepared for independence, Indonesia waged a bloody campaign to invade and occupy the territory, with the support of the US. That occupation was ended when the UN approved West Papua being incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, following a rigged referendum of only 1,000 hand-picked West Papuans.

“The people of West Papua have been fighting for their independence ever since” said Harawira, “and New Zealand has had a role in that war – training the Indonesian military and police in return for favourable trade deals with the Indonesian government.”

“New Zealand has the opportunity to put that distasteful period in the past,” said Harawira, “by supporting two simple requests of the people of West Papua – a fact-finding mission to clarify the situation in West Papua, and peaceful dialogue between the Indigenous people of West Papua and the Indonesian government.”

“To do any less would be to sanction our support for the brutal military occupation of West Papua and to ignore the killings of an indigenous people who lack the capacity to defend themselves.”

3 News

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