On August 15, 1962, the New York Agreement was signed by the Governments of Indonesia and The Netherlands to sell-out the territory and people of West Papua, facilitated by the United States. This agreement set out the conditions leading to the 1969 sham referendum that annexed West Papua to Indonesia.
A glaring aspect of the New York Agreement was the complete exclusion of West Papuans in the entire process that supposedly decides on their destiny – a blatant violation of the people’s right to self-determination even before the fraudulent referendum itself.
58 years later, West Papua’s land and resources continue to be pillaged by imperialist powers, with the US, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom at the top of the list. The Omnibus Bill that the Indonesian Government is currently pushing at a national level promotes further plunder of Indonesia’s and West Papua’s natural resources for the benefit of a handful of landlords and big business compradors, side-by-side the exploitation of Indonesia’s and West Papua’s working class.
The events in August of last year fully exposed the discriminative and repressive character of the Indonesian state with hundreds of West Papuans arrested and dozens killed for exercising basic rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in protest actions which contained the people’s just demand for self-determination.
Indonesia attempts to pacify the resistance and put on a democratic facade towards West Papua as it dangles a bogus “special autonomy” while unleashing full-on fascism through aggressive military operations in Nduga, Mimika, Tambrauw, and other regions of West Papua.
Now, as we face a global health crisis, the crackdowns on activists and dissenters is ruthless than ever – not only on Indigenous West Papuans but also on those who vigorously join their cause as in the case of Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman. The lawyer/activist, while already living in exile, is again being hunted down by the government and forced to pay back a previously-granted state scholarship for her law studies which she now puts into practice by supporting West Papuans in various legal cases involving human rights violations.
The government has all the means to twist and turn the narratives. But we stand firmly with the peoples of West Papua and amplify their calls for justice and self-determination. We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners, the pull-out of Indonesian security forces in West Papua, and an independent and thorough investigation on the human rights abuses in West Papua from past to present. Finally, we demand that the Indonesian Government, as well as all other states, recognize and uphold West Papua’s right to self-determination!
Deewa Dela Cruz