On 15th August 1962, West Papua was handed over to Indonesia without any consultation with the Papuan people through the so-called New York Agreement. Although the agreement promised West Papuans a referendum on independence, this never took place. Instead, a US-backed “Act of Free Choice” was held in 1969. The landmark agreement only officiated the turnover of West Papua’s colonization from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Indonesia. August 15 is known in West Papua as the “Day of Broken Promise”.
This August 2, West Papuans will mobilize to again reaffirm their rejection of the results of the 1969 bogus referendum. This historical betrayal has led to the renewed national oppression and subjugation of West Papua. Its peoples only experienced extreme repression and genocide under the Indonesian colonial rule, whilst the riches of their ancestral lands are plundered. The government of Indonesia never fulfilled its “administrative responsibility” mandated by the agreement to advance the social, cultural, and economic development of West Papua.
Meanwhile, on August 6-9, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) will table the full membership of West Papua in the MSG, and on August 12-16, the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) will be also be holding a meeting to discuss issues in West Papua. We are also calling for support for these engagements that recognize West Papua as a sovereign nation.
August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is an opportune moment to call out the genocide happening in West Papua through Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s development aggression programs that liberally allows the entry of multinational and transnational corporations that exploit Papua’s resources and peoples. As a matter of fact, in a National Investment Coordination Meeting, Jokowi has publicly instructed local governments to “close their eyes and give permits to businesses”, essentially encouraging private investors to claim Indigenous lands in West Papua, and for government officials to be complicit to this land-grabbing.
Indonesia will also be celebrating its Independence Day on August 17. Among our calls on this month of action is the condemnation of the continuing colonization and occupation of West Papua by the Indonesian Government.
In various parts of West Papua, mass organizations and social movements will also be holding actions and demonstrations on various issues such as the ongoing military operations in the Nduga Regency that has killed, wounded, and displaced thousands of Papuans. Since December 2017, the Indonesian Army (TNI) has intensified its military offensives in Nduga in an effort to suppress the armed struggle by the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB), but this instead has resulted to numerous casualties and human rights violations against civilians and activists accused of being members or supporters of the TPNPB. There is also a blockade of food and humanitarian assistance in Nduga and moreover, media, activists, and aid workers cannot fully report what is happening due to strict military control over the area. An executive summary of the humanitarian situation in Nduga can be read here.
We, as activists and internationalists, are challenged to stand in solidarity with the struggle of West Papua, and put an end to the long silence and the deliberate cover-ups of the realities in this nation, not only by the Indonesian state, but with the help of other Imperialist states like the US and Australia.
Long live the peoples of West Papua!
Long live the struggle for self-determination and liberation!
Long live international solidarity!