PRESS RELEASE | August 19, 2019
Deewa Dela Cruz
Merdeka West Papua Support Network secretariat, +639163725588, email@example.com
IPMSDL communications, +639950132437, firstname.lastname@example.org
International IP groups, activists troop Indonesia Embassy, call for decolonization of West Papua
Philippine-based global and local orgs protest in front of the Indonesia Embassy in Manila to call for an end to Indonesian occupation of West Papua, a nation that was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, that is still asserting its self-determination.
Manila, Philippines – As part of the ‘Free West Papua’ global actions this August, Philippine-based international group Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and Merdeka West Papua Support Network trooped the Indonesia Embassy with calls for to support West Papua’s independence from Indonesia, and to hold accountable the Indonesian Government for all its human rights violations against the Papuan peoples.
“Five decades of Indonesian colonization is more than enough. It is shameful that in the era where human rights and democratic freedom should be advancing, here are our West Papuan brothers and sisters still struggling for their most basic rights in their own land. The era of colonization has long ended, Indonesia must let West Papua determine its own destiny as sovereign peoples,” said Deewa Dela Cruz from the Merdeka West Papua Support Network secretariat.
Freedom movements in West Papua are on a long-standing campaign for the full implementation of the 1960 United Nations declaration to give independence to colonized countries and peoples. In August 15, 1962, West Papua started to be handed down by Netherlands to Indonesia under the terms set in the New York Agreement which ended up in US-backed “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 – a referendum where a select-few of the West Papuan population were terrorized by Indonesia into voting in favor of being part of its territory, according to reports.
“As Indigenous Peoples (IP), West Papuans are the historical owners of their lands and resources; the Indonesian government is violating their right to self-determination. The Indigenous Papuans are now restricted from practicing their traditional ways of living, they can’t raise their own flag and they are treated as second class citizens to Indonesians – these are their realities,” said Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of IPMSDL. “On top of the reports of deaths caused by military atrocities, the denial of their economic, social, and cultural rights, if not addressed swiftly, will sooner or later erase the Papuan identity,” she added.
The international community has expressed concern over the recent violence in the communities in Nduga, West Papua where Indonesian troops and pro-independence fighters clash. As of July, 177 died, 5 are missing and 5,201 were internally displaced and pushed to hide in the forests, International Coalition for Papua reported. Humanitarian aid, independent fact-finding groups and media were blocked by Indonesian troops to enter conflict zones.
“Filipinos and West Papuans share the brunt of fascist attacks from their governments. Yet, both the Filipino and West Papuan peoples are gaining huge international solidarity and recognition for their struggle, while both Jokowi and Duterte governments desperately cover-up the perilous human rights situation in their backyards,” said Rita Baua of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) and International League of People’s Struggle – Philippines
“West Papua is our neighbour in Asia Pacific region, and both countries are hotspots of imperialist plunder,” said Baua. She added that “while Philippine’s lands and resources are being sold one by one by Duterte to Chinese investors and other foreign companies, West Papua’s riches and ancestral lands have long been brokered by the Government of Indonesia to the biggest mining and plantation corporations.”
West Papua houses the world's largest gold and copper mine, operated by the US company Freeport, which caused an environmental destruction visible from space. Freeport’s area of operation in West Papua has been protected by Indonesian troops – an area with a high number of human rights violations.
“While both West Papua and the Philippines ranked among the most mineral-rich countries in the world, both share an impoverished population whose natural resources are exploited by imperialist and colonizers,” Longid added.
“There is a growing unity among Filipinos, West Papuans, and even Indonesians, supporting West Papua’s independence. We are forging solidarity based on our common struggles for freedom and against all forms of oppression; and that’s something we can all relate with and further support,” Longid said in closing.#
Click link for Spanish, French, and Filipino translations: tinyurl.com/WPMerdeka