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  • Writer's pictureMerdeka Secretariat

GempaR Papua: Close Your Eyes, Fight Back!

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

Papuan Student, Youth, and People’s Movement GempaR Papua “West Papua Is Not an Empty Land’’

Close Your Eyes, Fight Back!

Papua was integrated, through annexation, by Indonesia on May 1, 1963. Four years later (1967), Papua became the first target for foreign investments by the Indonesian Government through the Law on Foreign Investment which allowed the giant gold and copper mining company, Freeport, to acquire 2.6 million hectares of land in Timika, which has since devastated the lives of the Indigenous Peoples. Not to mention the opening of oil and gas companies, with the first palm oil company in Sorong in 1982, in Keerom in 1984, and the MIFEE [1] mega project in Merauke, which, to date, has damaged more than tens of millions of hectares of Indigenous Peoples land. The Indonesian Government has always used the military, as well as various legal powers, to facilitate the national development and economic interests, and even foreign investments, which has resulted in massive human rights violations in Papua until now.

By the end of the Soeharto Regime, and with the Reform Era replacing the New Order, development acceleration was carried out by changing the centralized government system to become decentralized (Law No. 22 of 1999), and by granting special autonomy to Papua (Tap MPR [2] No. 4 of 1999) as part of Indonesia’s move to weaken the Papuan people’s aspirations to become independent. Besides that, Indonesia’s handling of Papua was loaded with “development” interventions, starting with the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 1 of 2003, to accelerate the expansion of Papua through the development of provinces, regencies, and cities. Under the special autonomy (Otsus), Papua’s districts has increased from 9 to 42. Besides the enactment of the Special Autonomy Law, there are also the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), the Master Plan Acceleration Development of Economic Indonesia (MP3EI), the Regional Autonomy (Law 23 of 2004), the Village Law (Law 6 of 2014), and Presidential Decree No. 9 of 2017 concerning Acceleration of Development in Papua.

Moreover, throughout the development process (investment), Indonesian transmigrants move to Papua, in search of a living. This state-sponsored population equalization program incited discrimination between Papuans and the migrants. These interests for national development also led to the marginalization of Papuans in their own land and horizontal conflicts from the failure of the state to uphold the values of human rights.

Upon the administration of special autonomy for Papua, various investments entered so quickly and massively, ranging from interests of the state for income to that of foreign investors. According to the reports of Papua in Figures in 2018 and Oke Finance, the number of companies and industries in Papua has reached 9,053, which are scattered throughout the Land of Papua. Freeport, which extracts 116 billion worth of gold per day [3]; MIFEE and large palm oil companies in Papua, which have reaped profits up to 200 trillion rupiah [4]; and many more investments launched supposedly for Indonesia’s economic development, has destroyed the lives and cultures of Indigenous Papuans.

Lately, Indigenous Peoples in Merauke were faced with the threat of seizure of 4.26 million hectares of their land, while Indigenous Peoples in Timika still risk losing 2.6 million hectares as a result of the seizure of Freeport shares, and also the engineering of Extraordinary Events (KLB) and community relocation Papua in Asmat for investment of 15 billion barrels of oil. Until now, foreign investors and the Indonesian Government grapple to maintain the status quo which, to date, have taken 26, out of 46 million hectares of Papua's customary territory, while disregarding the fate and existence of Indigenous Papuans.

The progress of the investments is fully supported by State forces and policies, as said by Indonesian President, Joko Widodo on March 12, 2019 at the National Investment Coordination Meeting in Tangerang: "...regents, mayors, governors, if there are investors related to any industry, CLOSE YOUR EYES, GIVE THEM PERMISSION". This statement officially legitimizes whatever the interests of the State and financiers are for the sake of progress of Indonesia's economy and development targets while once again ignoring the fate and future of the Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia, and specifically the Indigenous Peoples in the Land of Papua who are the biggest victims of Indonesia’s development schemes.

Seeing dynamics that threaten the civilization of Indigenous Papuan Peoples and our nature, we, the Papuan Student, Youth, and People’s Movement, call on Indigenous Peoples, communities, environmental activists, humanitarian activists, and people’s fighters throughout the world, to be in solidarity with us, to express serious concern on the survival of Indigenous Peoples in the land of Papua, through photo ops, open campaigns, and even holding demonstrations at the Indonesian embassies in your respective countries. With this request, may our resistance and our solidarity inspire the resistance of all oppressed communities in the world! Long live the people’s struggle!

Papua Is Not An Empty Land. There are people, there is a resistance, and there will be liberation. GempaR Papua calls: Close Your Eyes, Fight Back!

[1] Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)

[2] Decree of the People’s Consultative Assembly

[3] Per Geologic Record in 2017

[4] Sawit Watch, 2017


Committee Central of GempaR-Papua

Yason Ngelia

Secretary General

Samuel Womsiwor Chairman, GempaR Jayapura – Person-in-Charge August 9

Vecky Mobalen

Chairman, GempaR Sorong – Person-in-Charge August 9

Yonathan Womnowi

Chairman, GempaR Manokwari – Person-in-Charge August 9

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