Statement on West Papua Independence Day
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
The Merdeka West Papua Support Network is one with the West Papuan people in
commemorating the 1st of July and the people’s continuing struggle for genuine independence and self-determination.
The West Papuans decisively asserted their self-determination by proclaiming independence on July 1, 1971 at the Markas Victoria and establishing an independent democratic republic with its own Provisional Constitution, Government, and Senate. The Independence Movement has also formed its own Liberation Army in the early 1970s.
The events on this historic day was a dignified response of West Papuans to the continuous
disregard of their right to decide for themselves. The Netherlands have colonized West Papua as part of the Dutch East Indies in the 1800s until 1949. It remained an overseas territory of the Dutch until 1962, and due to the fraudulent “act of free choice” organized by Indonesia in 1969, the administration of West Papua was merely transferred to Indonesia.
The lands of Papua are rich yet the people suffer from high rates of infant mortality, illiteracy, and HIV, and are denied access to basic social services while foreign companies continuously plunder and exploit the rich resources of gold and natural gas. Papuans obtain little to none of the benefits from these lucrative operations, notwithstanding that Papuans have neither been consulted nor gave their consent on these projects.
US-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan and British-Australian multinational Rio Tinto
jointly operate the Grasberg Mine - the world’s largest gold reserve and the single largest revenue source of Indonesia. This company, along with other multinational companies operating in the region such as BP (formerly British Petroleum), has long been the subject of various criticisms concerning people’s rights and the environment.
Human rights violations remain rampant as perpetrated by the Indonesian Government, in
collusion with other governments that has economic and political interests in West Papua such as the US and the UK. The Indonesian military forces are constantly accused of extrajudicial killings, torture, threats, intimidations, and arbitrary arrests against those who express dissent. There are at least 37 Papuan political prisoners who were put in jail for supporting the independence movement while many more human rights violations are undocumented due to the repression of media and human rights workers.
The West Papuan struggle for independence remains just and relevant. Today, the movement continues to grow in various levels – through diplomacy, mass movement, or guerilla warfare. We call on our governments, human rights organizations and advocates, and the international community to link arms with West Papua support networks and alliances throughout the world to uphold the protection of their land, life, and identity.
We join the West Papuans in asserting their independence with their calls to close down the
exploitative foreign companies, to pull-out the Indonesian military and police, and to end all kinds of state violence!