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August 5, 2019 | by  | in Features |
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Papua Merdeka – Free West Papua

CW: Violence, Genocide, Rape

 

What’s happening in West Papua?

 

West Papua, with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea in the east, constitute the island of Papua in Melanesia. It is situated approximately 200 km north of Australia, covered in rainforest, and is a biodiverse and minerally rich land. There are over 250 diverse tribes, with their own languages and cultures. 

 

West Papua is not an independent nation. It is currently under Indonesian military occupation, having been that way since 1962. A genocide against the indigenous population of West Papua is happening right now. It has been continuing for over 50 years. 

 

In 1969, the UN oversaw a vote titled ‘Act of Free Choice’, during which Indonesian officials cherry-picked approximately 1000 individuals in a population of over one million to vote for or against independence for West Papua. It was not open to the general public, as Indonesia labelled Papuans “too primitive” to be able to handle democracy. Under the threat of death by the Indonesian military, every single individual voted against independence.

 

The UN sanctioned this vote.   

 

In the effort to control Papuans and clear land for resource extraction, the Indonesian military has for decades murdered, raped, and tortured thousands of civilians. An example being the American- and British-owned Freeport mine. This is the world’s largest gold mine, and thousands were killed to make way for this mine which diminished a sacred mountain to a crater and poisoned the local river.

The West was silent.

Basic human rights such as freedom of speech are denied in West Papua. Speaking against the Indonesian rule results in imprisonment in murder. Raising of the West Papuan independence flag, the ‘morning star’, has had the same consequences. It is estimated that under Indonesian rule, over 500,000 have been killed by military forces, and countless others have been tortured, raped, imprisoned, or have gone missing in prison.

The West has continued to remain silent.

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. There is a foreign media outlet ban in the region, meaning that news organisations, journalists, and websites that advocate for West Papua face atrocious consequences. The government of Indonesia continues to cover up their severe human rights abuses. 

 

The Pacific calls for justice and freedom for West Papua. Do you?

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