Indonesia Shall Stop Lying About Papua

Andre Barahamin


Indonesia -for more than four decades- has trying to avoid the fact that the Papuan struggle for self-determination never step back. It getting big in terms of quality and quantity despite Indonesia’s ultra nationalist keeping tabs to ignored these facts. Indonesia’s claim over the territory now facing the most crucial stage since the establishment of United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP). A political umbrella who succeed to bring together different freedom fighters groups to join hand in hand.

ULMWP’s success to gained observer status within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has pushed Indonesia to devote more of it power on this region. With strong support from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, ULMWP are no longer “just a group with fictitious claim which is disruptive for the Melanesian countries”.

Indonesia who once was a colony should know in the first hand that, Papuan struggle for freedom won’t ever stop simply because of new roads, new schools, new hospitals or extra additional funds from Jakarta. All these physical improvement are not equal to massive land grabbing of indigenous lands for mega plantation of palm oil or pulp and paper. Those buildings will not able to hide to fact that mining industries across Papua are protected by Indonesia’s army and police forces.

So, how can one can say that Papua is free?

For instance, Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation and Papua Itu Kita (Indonesians’ solidarity group for Papuans) frequently condemned Indonesian Police forces for violating the Papuan rights for political expressions. Thousands of Papuan freedom supporters were arrested and peaceful marches were stormed. Recently, in Yogyakarta, pro-Indonesia militias stormed the student’s boarding house, harassed the boarders and chanted racist words while blockading the house. It happened and will happens again.

According to ELSAM (The Institute of Policy Research and Advcacy), throughout the years (from 2012 to 2014) there has been 389 cases of violence resulting in the deaths of 234 Papuans and another 854 were injured. It was not the total number, because since 1961 Papua has undergone 16 different military campaigns.

In the other hand, PUSAKA Foundation found that massive deforestation in Papua sparked widespread violations towards indigenous. Numbers of people are losing their source of foods which cause malnutrition and hunger with infant mortality rates reached up to 28.4%.

At the same time, Indonesia imposed restriction and censorship upon Papua. Foreign journalists and researchers are not allowed to visit Papua.

In addition to it, international NGOs, United Nations officials and foreign academics are also restricted entering Papua. Since 2009, the International Committee for the Red Cross, Cordaid (Netherlands) and Peace Brigades International, had to closed their representatives in Papua due to pressure the Indonesian government. In 2013, the Indonesian government blocked the visits of UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression, Frank La Rue.

Indonesia shall stop harming Papua.

With all these violence, Indonesia unconsciously enhancing Papuans “memoria passionis”. A passion for continually remember how Papua has always been the object of various power in the world. Formerly colonized by the Dutch. Then, the United Nations helped Papua fell into the hands of Indonesia whose claims the whole region of former Dutch East Indies colonial administration areas as it teritory. A claim that once was contested by Muhammad Hatta in 1945.

History has proved that the “memoria passionis” will be very difficult to remove. Instead, it will strengthen hopes for peace and freedom.

Indonesia could no longer hide Papua and it’s problems. Hoping that the international community would not be paying attention.

In May, there was a meeting amongst different country’s parliament members who are concerned about the ongoing situation in Papua. Jeremy Corbyn, the chairman of the UK Labour Party, has called for referendum in Papua. In June, Papua became hot topic to discuss during the session of the UN Human Rights Commission. Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly condemned Indonesian for it ‘cultural fundamentalism’ in Papua – which is imposing its own values to become a dominant value among the indigenous people of Papua.

All those facts above should be taken seriously by Indonesia. This country shall stop lying before everything went too late. If not, one day Papuan children will remember us not only as colonialists but as country of liars.