West Papua independence
West Papua is the other half of the Island of New Guinea immediately north of Australia (Independent Papua New Guinea has the other half of the island). Some people believe West Papua is being overrun by Indonesian migrants who will soon be the majority population.
West Papuans are being forced off their fertile lands and forests which are being mined, logged and turned into massive palm oil plantations. NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has called for a “Pacific-Reset” to enable Pacific countries to set their own direction and achieve self-determination.
Self-determination is when the people of a country are able to have their own government. This is presently not possible for West Papua which is occupied by Indonesia.
When Papuans protest, they are arrested, tortured and imprisoned. Many disappear. Reports state that many people have died in the struggle!
This page is dedicated to supporting the people of West Papua. Here you will find resources for teachers and students. It is a collaboration between UNA NZ Canterbury Branch and West Papua Action Canterbury.
Resources for Schools
Papuan Voices - media project
Papuan Voices is an excellent video advocacy initiative working with Papuan activists to more effectively tell their stories to the world.includes a wide range of videos created by filmmaker Wensislaus Fatubun. Sections include:
West Papua Action Canterbury
Free West Papua Twitter
Human Rights in West Papua - report
This is the fifth report of the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) covering events from January 2015 until December 2016.
Stuff article: Profile of West Papua gradually being raised
See No Evil - Book
See No Evil issues a challenge to New Zealanders. The book focusses on the impact of New Zealand’s foreign policy on the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants. It uncovers the untold story of New Zealand’s unprincipled and often hypocritical diplomacy.
The consequences of repressive Indonesian rule have been tragic for the West Papuan people, who are experiencing ‘slow genocide’. While a growing number of Pacific Island nations are calling for change, so far New Zealand has opted for caution and collusion…
Investigate the use of Kwila - pamplet, video & blog post
Chances are you’re sitting on a deck, eating from an outdoor table made from stolen rainforest timber! This pamplet details the issues related to Kwila and the impact on deforestation in West Papua. It has a number of other useful web links in it to support student research. Also, read this blog post which is cross-posted from the website The Spin-off.
The New York Agreement
In 1962, the Netherlands, Indonesia and the US signed an agreement that determined the future of West Papua. This signing of this ‘agreement’ didn’t involve leaders from West Papua.
This Wikipedia page gives background about this event. It provides a good starting point in helping to understand the background to this issue.
Media & reading material
- Human Rights Watch – posts related to West Papua from this highly reputable organisation.
- Papuans Behind Bars – website that documents and tracks data on political arrests in West Papua.
- New Mandala – website that provides anecdote, analysis and new perspectives on Southeast Asia.
- Melbourne University – this blog was launched in July 2015 to present analysis, research and commentary on contemporary Indonesia from academics and postgraduate students affiliated with the University of Melbourne.
- Papuans get independence petition to UN despite obstacles – from The Associated Press, AP News.
- West Papuans uprising article in the Guardian
- Benny Wenda website – Benny Wenda is a West Papuan Independence leader, Chairperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is a recipient of the Freedom of Oxford. He lives in exile in the United Kingdom.
In the 1950’s, Dutch colonists were preparing West Papua for independence. They had an elected Legislative Assembly, a flag (“The Morning Star”) and were meeting up with other Melanesian Pacific countries (Papuans are Melanesians not Asians).
Indonesia teamed up with the USA to block West Papua becoming independent. Indonesia pressured the United Nations to grant Indonesia temporary control of West Papua until a binding referendum was held in 1969.
This referendum was a jack-up by Indonesia with a selected group of Papuans forced at the point of a gun to vote for Indonesian control. Papuans say it was a “vote of no choice”.
Foolishly, the United Nations, under pressure from the USA, granted Indonesia control of West Papua. This also enabled USA mining to commence in West Papua.
Seven Pacific countries are supporting West Papua’s appeal to the United Nations to undo the harm this has done. Unfortunately, New Zealand and Australian governments are not yet standing with West Papua.
The New Zealand and Australian governments are more interested in trade with Indonesia than the human rights of West Papuans. We need to put a stop to this.
What can New Zealand students and educators do?
- Draw up a local petition of support for West Papua and take it to your local MP or sign this one online and share it via social media.
- Ask your local MP to join the international group of MPs supporting West Papua’s appeal to the United Nations to hear their case for self determination.
- Ask local timber and hardware stores not to sell Kwila/Merbau timber products (decking and outdoor furniture, etc); virtually all Kwila coming into NZ is illegally/unsustainably logged in West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
- Read Maire Leadbeater’s book “See No Evil” (Otago Uni Press 2018). It’s the best book on West Papua.
- Encourage students to research the Palm Oil industry and deforestation with a particular focus on how this affects the biodiversity and social conditions in West Papua.
- Keep in touch with West Papua Action Auckland on Facebook here… or visit their website here…
- Join West Papua Action Canterbury on Facebook here…
- Like Oceania Interrupted on Facebook here…
Special Event - Canterbury Students
Join us for a special panel forum ‘Pacific Reset: West Papua’s Self Determination’ on Tuesday 26th March @ 5.30pm at Canterbury University.
This special event is for Canterbury Secondary students and their teachers.
Secret agreement destroys Papua's paradise
The Auyu tribe in Boven Digoel, Papua Province, is living in the threat of a major environmental disaster. The Tanah Merah Project is a plan that cuts down billions of dollars worth of trees from forest areas that are equivalent to four times the DKI Jakarta Province. And now, palm shoots are growing on it.
Palm oil companies are growing in West Papua
Since officially joining Indonesia in 1969, until 2005, there have only been seven oil palm companies in Papua. But in 2014 the number had reached 21 companies, with 20 other companies in the ready to operate stage.