Australia, Japan, US, NZ, and the Pacific Islands Forum: West Papua and persecution

Australia, Japan, NZ, and the Pacific Islands Forum: West Papua and persecution

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

With endless persecution of the Papuans in West Papua – along with the demographic and religious changes by the usurper, Indonesia – that is tacitly rubber-stamped by America, Australia, New Zealand, and other powerful nations in Asia from China to Japan: it is time for regional democratic nations to speak up for the Papuans.

America, Australia, and New Zealand – with the onus being on the regional nations of Australia and New Zealand that carry a lot of clout within the Pacific Islands Forum (and other regional organizations) – to take a deep look in the mirror. These three modern nations came from the embers of the indigenous populations who were reduced to the margins of society concerning endless immigration and changing power structures that resulted in horrendous persecution. Therefore, with America, Australia, and New Zealand acknowledging past historical wrongs and being concerned about racism: the natural correlation with modern times is the horrendous persecution of Papuans in West Papua, who are a mirror of the brutal past.

The New Zealand Herald reports, “Pacific leaders have wrapped up their retreat in Fiji, after thrashing out major issues affecting the region, from climate change to China, the US and security, and indigenous rights movements in West Papua and New Caledonia.”

Benny Wenda, the Interim President of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), uttered that leaders in the Pacific must show “timely and effective leadership… the human rights crisis in West Papua and the existential threat of climate change.”

Wenda continued, “West Papua is a green land in a blue ocean. Our blue Pacific has always united our peoples, rather than dividing them.”

America, China, Japan, and Indonesia have vested interests concerning geopolitics. Indonesia covets to exploit West Papua endlessly until the indigenous are crushed – similar to what happened to Native Americans, Aborigines, and other indigenous ethnic groups throughout history. Therefore, if democracy and human rights are at the heart of the regional dynamics of this region in modern times: the endless persecution of Papuans must end.

Wenda said, “For decades, we have been crying that Indonesia is bombing our villages and killing our people, but we have been ignored.”

He continued, “Now, the world is taking notice of our struggle. The United Nations has shown that up to 100,000 West Papuan civilians have been internally displaced by Indonesian military operations in the past three years alone.”

ABC reports that the latest attack in West Papua happened “…days after protests about a new law that will see the region divided from two into five provinces, with the addition of South Papua, Central Papua and Highland Papua provinces.”

Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer with Amnesty International Australia, said, “Jakarta’s divide-and-rule strategy was opposed across the board in Papua …. Papuans are concerned that more non-Indigenous Papuans will arrive, further marginalizing them in their own land.” 

The latest move by Indonesia on seeking to divide the Papuans is another attempt to appropriate the resources of West Papua and to divide and rule by stealth. New power structures by Indonesia will tighten control even further to crush the indigenous. Shamelessly, nations like Japan say little about Indonesia’s power concentration methods – while America, France, and the United Kingdom have supplied military arms to Indonesia for decades.

Indigenous groups throughout the Pacific region – and the nations of Australia and New Zealand – need to understand that West Papua’s future is a parallel mirror to the entire region. If human rights, democracy, and tackling climate change mean something, then West Papua must be free to govern itself.

If West Papua is completely crushed by Indonesia (a project that is still underway), then the “core at the center” of the region is corrupt and open to the endless exploitation of resources, outside geopolitical meddling, and the historical legacy of crushing indigenous groups will be continuing via Indonesia.

The Guardian says, “Indonesia has controlled West Papua since invading in 1963 and formalizing its annexation through the controversial, UN approved, ‘Act of Free Choice’. Security forces are accused of severe human rights violations during the occupation with an estimated 500,000 Papuans killed.”

West Papua needs to breathe and break free from the chains of Indonesia.


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