West Papua, formerly known as West Irian Jaya, is a province in Indonesia, which is the western portion of Papua. Originally owned by The Netherlands since their invasion to Indonesia. The Netherlands originally wanted to liberate West Papua from Indonesia. This action was opposed by Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno by asking support to Uni Soviet (now Russia). Soekarno’s action scared The Netherlands and made them withdrew from the conflict and gave United Nations full authority to decide what’s best for West Papua, in which United Nations decided to make the New York Agreement on 1962, which basically stating that The Netherlands will hand back Papua to Indonesia.
West Papua became the 26th province of Indonesia in 1969 after the “Act of Free Choice“, sponsored by The United Nations, which basically giving Papua and West Papua two choices: to remain as part of Indonesia or to become an independent nation. It was a vote by 1,025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military in Western New Guinea, who were asked to vote by raising their hands or reading from prepared scripts in a display for United Nations observer, though some believe that this voting was unfair because there wasn’t any Papua’s representative present during the voting. The province was in 1973 re-named Irian Jaya (Victorious Irian), by the Indonesian President, General Soeharto. The indigenous movement rejects this name and identify themselves as West Papua. Resistance to Indonesia had begun in 1962 when temporary authority was first given to Jakarta, and continues to the present.
Over the twenty six years that Indonesia has held official control of West Papua, the indigenous population has endured one of the twentieth century’s most repressive and unjust systems of colonial occupation. An escalation in killings recently, especially around the massive Freeport copper and gold mine in the central highlands, has been widely reported in the Australian and international media. West Papua has been facing a lot of human rights violations which tragically done by Indonesian security forces. Over 500,000 civilians have been killed in a genocide against the indigenous population. Thousands more have been raped, tortured, imprisoned or ‘disappeared’ after being detained. Basic human rights such as freedom of speech are denied and Papuans live in a constant state of fear and intimidation. The Indonesian government is also suppressing freedom of political association and political expression and restricting foreign access to the Papua and West Papua provinces due to sensitivities regarding its suppression of Papuan nationalism.
Until today, the people of West Papua are still facing discrimination and violence, Indonesia’s current president, Joko Widodo has been visiting West Papua so many times, yet nothing is changing. There are still lots of killing and unlawful arrest of around 4000 West Papuan, including human rights activists and journalists, between April and June 2016 alone. President Joko Widodo’s administration really need to take this issue seriously if they still want West Papua to be a part of Indonesia, or openly give the people of West Papua the opportunity to choose our their destiny in an Internationally Supervised Vote on self-determination, so they can be independent and stopping all the human rights violation that once again still happens until today.
To read more about the Free West Papua Campaign, you can visit the website here.