West Papua Fast Facts: 13 things I think we should know

1. West Papua was a former colony of the Netherlands. In 1961, the Dutch and Indonesian governments signed an agreement regarding the Dutch turnover of West Papuan administration to Indonesia without the consent of the West Papuan people.

2. In 1969, Indonesian military forces invaded West Papua days before West Papuans were supposed to vote for independence. Indonesian military forces committed grave human rights abuses in order to ensure that West Papuans were intimidated and terrorized enough to vote annexation by Indonesia instead of independence.

3. This vote, known as the Act of Free Choice, was a referendum wherein supposedly all West Papuans would vote whether they wanted West Papuan independence or not, according to the New York Agreement signed by the Dutch and Indonesian governments in 1961. However, the Indonesian government changed the rules of the referendum, instead handpicking only 1025 West Papuans to vote. These delegates received grave threats if they did not vote for Indonesian annexation.images

4. Despite clear human rights violations, the United Nations failed the West Papuan people by acknowledging the results of the referendum.

5. The Indonesian government has declard it illegal for the West Papuan flag of independence to be displayed in West Papua.

6. West Papua is one of the world’s richest areas in terms of natural resources.

7. The region contibutes a substantial amount to Indonesia’s natinal income yet the region has one of the highest incidences of poverty in the country.

8. Millions of hectares have been leased out or sold by the government to palm oil companies.

apr-unpo-westpapua-680wide9. The Indonesian government’s transmigration policy (discontinued supposedly by President Widodo) has made the West Papuans a minority in their own lands. They now comprise almost 40% of the population, whereas before the Indonesian takeover over 90% of people living in West Papua were, well, West Papuans. 😀

10. If this trend continues, it is possible that the West Papuan people will only be remembered years on via anthropological museums.

11. Basic social services that should be provided by the government are virtually non-existent in West Papua except for a few areas.

12. Government forces have killed more than 500,000 West Papuans in a never-ending cycle of extrajudicial killings.

13. West Papuans have been fighting through armed and parliamentary means for the self determination and liberation of West Papua.