Saturday, 24 May 2008

same as it ever was, same as it ever was

When Indonesia declared its independence from Holland in 1949, the Dutch insisted that West Papua not become part of Indonesia as the Papuans were Melanesian and predominantly Christian, while the Indonesians were Malay and predominantly Muslim. So the Dutch remained in the territory, preparing the people for independence.

In 1961 a West Papuan Council was elected, a flag was designed and a national anthem composed. Indonesia invaded and the United Nations intervened to prevent war. But these were also Cold War days. The Soviets had brokered an arms deal with Indonesia and so America, trumped the Soviets by brokering a comparable arms deal and secretly offering to help Indonesia secure control of West Papua.

In New York in August 1962, the US, on behalf of Indonesia, brokered an agreement with the Netherlands by which the territory's administration would be transferred to a UN temporary authority until 1 May 1963. Control of West Papua would then be handed over to Indonesia on the understanding that a plebiscite would be held before the end of 1969 allowing the Papuans to vote for or against separation from Indonesia. Thus the Indonesians had six years to win the hearts and minds of the Papuans.

On 1 May 1963, upon assuming administrative control of West Papua, Indonesia disbanded the elected West Papuan Council, burned West Papuan flags and banned the West Papuan national anthem. An era of colonisation, violent repression, exploitation, murder, racism and human rights abuses at the hands of the corrupt Indonesian military had begun. The plebiscite, an "Act of Free Choice", was totally rigged and West Papua (Irian Jaya) was formally annexed by Indonesia on 17 September 1969.

The intensity of repression has escalated dramatically since Indonesia lost control of East Timor in 1999. In addition, the Islamic revival of the past two decades has added a religious dimension to the Papuans' plight, with Islamists pursuing its full Islamisation. The Laskar Jihad has been set up in West Papua since 2000 and when the jihad in the Moluccas ended, the out-of-work jihadists flooded into West Papua. The Papuans will soon be a minority in their own land.

It is all so clearly wrong, a betrayal by the west as we move less powerful people around like pieces on a chessboard, and leave defenseless people at the mercy of rapacious invaders. Yet how can we complain about Indonesia's genocidal behaviour? After all, we did much the same to the indigenous people in both Australia and the US - and millennia before, it happened in the UK as well, several times.

"And you may ask yourself - did I get here?
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was..."
Talking Heads

Yet somehow, we must do something. Read more ...

Based on info compiled by APN.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent write-up, though it urns out 45 years later that the US government was also being manipulated.

    The US had acted on advice of US National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, a friend of and appointed on advice of Robert Lovett who was a director of the Freeport corporation that had been trying to establish a mining claim to West Papua's gold & copper since 1959.

    Like the War on Terrorism, the Cold War was used as cover for a US corporation that had covert political power.


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