In the 1960s, West Papuans were sacrificed in the name of Cold War politics - and the UN did nothing about it.
|Photo Ilts ( Aljazzera)|
London, United Kingdom - Thousands have taken part in rallies across West Papua and in Australia to mark the UN Secretary-General's (UNSG) visit to Indonesia, calling on Ban Ki-moon to revisit UN mistakes that lead to the denial of West Papuans' right to self-determination and to assist in resolving ongoing human rights abuses in Papua.
UN peacekeeping was at the top of the agenda of the UNSG's visit to Indonesia on Tuesday. West Papua was not, but many argue that it should be. After all, West Papuans are asking that the UN revisit its first - and flawed - administration of a post-conflict society. Observers hailed the success of the UN administration of East Timor and its successful transition to independence.
But few are aware of the UN's failure in its first attempt at administration in West Papua more than 40 years earlier. East Timor got a democratic vote. West Papua got a sham vote. East Timor got independence. West Papua became part of Indonesia - against its will and in breach of its right to self-determination under the UN Charter.
Had the UN properly discharged its mandate back then, West Papuans would have celebrated more than 40 years of independence instead of having endured nearly 50 years of oppression. In that time, it is estimated that as many as 500,000 Papuans have been killed at the hands of Indonesian security forces. Yale and Sydney Universities report that the situation is approaching genocide. Papuan activists campaigning for self-determination are routinely arrested and jailed for peacefully expressing their political opinions.