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Home » , , , , » West Papua and the Forgotten Struggle for Freedom | Via Politica

West Papua and the Forgotten Struggle for Freedom | Via Politica

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on August 12, 2011 | 5:06 PM


West Papuans protest by displaying the Morning Star Flag
Sometimes difficult, sometimes promising, the human rights situation in West Papua (Irian Jaya) seems to be both improving and deteriorating at the same time. West Papua has been an Indonesian province since 1969. However, that status has always been disputed by the indigenous people who perceive Indonesia as an occupying power. The situation in West Papua has varied from tense to deplorable during the past 40 years. It is largely a forgotten war; a struggle for independence that is rarely discussed or debated in international circles. It is a war that has largely been fought by aboriginals with traditional weapons against a well-funded, well-armed and historically vicious modern army.
Following Indonesian independence from the Netherlands in 1949, it was agreed that the new country would occupy the entire territory of the Dutch East Indies with the exception of Dutch New Guinea, the region known today as West Papua. The Papuans continued under Dutch rule until 1961 when they established an independent parliament. That same year, President Sukarno attempted to seize control of the territory as part of a campaign to claim all of the Dutch East Indies for Indonesia. This conflict led to the New York Agreement in 1962 which laid out the United Nations plan for determining the will of the Papuan people.

Mass demonstrations in Jayapura:

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Jayapura to call for a new referendum
To coincide with a conference in Oxford, England,
organized by the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP), approximately two thousand protesters demonstrated in Jayapura. The conference is focusing on a review of the Act of Free Choice and the protesters are demanding a new referendum. The review, which found that the vote was not fair or representative of the Papuan society, was a further attempt to provide a legal basis for support. But the Act of Free Choice has long been regarded as a sham. There simply hasn’t been any political will on the international scale to see the conflict resolved.
The protests went forward despite considerable violence in the area. Just one day before the protests, four men were killed in Jayapura. There were also large numbers of riot police (BRIMOB), soldiers, and specal forces on the streets. Some skirmishes were reported but it is believed that police are reluctant to intervene violently due to the size of the recent protests.

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