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Why the Genocide in West Papua affects You

Updated on December 29, 2014
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Rohan supports West Papuan independence from Indonesia. He is a writer based in Chennai, India.

The Morning Star flag, symbol of resistance in West Papua. Unfurling it gets 15 years in jail according to Indonesian law. Numerous raids have been conducted by the Indonesian military on flag-raising ceremonies, with scores killed.
The Morning Star flag, symbol of resistance in West Papua. Unfurling it gets 15 years in jail according to Indonesian law. Numerous raids have been conducted by the Indonesian military on flag-raising ceremonies, with scores killed. | Source

Where is West Papua?

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, located just above Australia. New Guinea, at 785,753 square kilometres, is the world's second largest island, after Greenland. It is a region covered in steaming jungles, with highlands running along the centre. It is known for its numerous tribes, some of which have never been contacted by outsiders. It is considered one of the last truly wild areas of the world. It is one of the only places which contains snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers right on the equator.

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea and is situated just above Australia on the world map.
West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea and is situated just above Australia on the world map. | Source

The distance from Northern Australia to West Papua is roughly 230 kilometres.

West Papua contains an extremely diverse culture and numerous tribes, some of which have never encountered an outsider. It is considered to be one of the world's last truly wild frontiers.
West Papua contains an extremely diverse culture and numerous tribes, some of which have never encountered an outsider. It is considered to be one of the world's last truly wild frontiers. | Source

What is the problem?

The region now known as West Papua was once a Dutch colony known as Netherlands New Guinea. In 1961, it received its independence from the Dutch, but within one year, in 1962, was invaded by Indonesian troops who began violently suppressing the people of the land.

A vote called the 'Act of Free Choice' was held in 1969 to determine if West Papua was to become a free nation, or remain under Indonesian control. 1,200 village elders were picked to vote on behalf of a population of over 2 million people. They were threatened at gunpoint by the Indonesian military to choose to remain under Indonesian control. The whole exercise was a sham, and yet was recognized by the United Nations.

Many decades later, West Papua remains under occupation by Indonesia. It is divided into the provinces of Papua and West Papua. It's citizens are treated inhumanely by the Indonesian military and the settlers from other regions of Indonesia.

The Indonesian government's transmigration program is bringing thousands of settlers into the region. West Papuans are becoming a minority in their own land.

The police force and army in the region are filled with Muslim Indonesians from other islands such as Java and Bali. The natives, many of whom are Christians, live in poverty, touting vegetables and meat on the town streets.


The rich mineral,lumber and land resources of the region are being depleted with West Papuans having no say in matters. They are forced to flee their villages and hide in the jungles because of frequent, bloody raids by the military. Many people simply disappear without a trace.

Indonesia has the highest rate of deforestation in the world, and having exhausted its supply of lumber on the once densely forested islands of Sumatra and Borneo, has shifted its attention to West Papua. Deforested areas are quickly turned into oil-palm concessions.

Who is the culprit?

The main culprit is the Indonesian government, which refuses to recognize the sovereignty of West Papua. It is engaged in exploiting the land of its vast resources of minerals and lumber, and in ethnic cleansing of the native cultures, replacing them with an alien culture that belongs more to Java than to West Papua.

What is the US doing?

The United States which often engages in military interventions in other parts of the world, refuses to take note of the happenings in West Papua. It appears to be driven by a fear of destabilizing the dynamics in the resource-rich region. Incidentally, West Papua contains the Grasberg mine, which is the largest gold, and third largest copper mine in the world.

The United States of America has turned a blind eye to what has been happening in West Papua.
The United States of America has turned a blind eye to what has been happening in West Papua. | Source

What is Australia doing?

Australia, which formerly controlled the nation on Papua New Guinea (the eastern half of the island of New Guinea), is a close ally of Indonesia and supports its claims on West Papua. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has stated that Australia will not tolerate attempts aimed at undermining Indonesian control over West Papua.

Why should I support the West Papuan freedom movement?

You should support the West Papuan freedom struggle for the following reasons:

  1. Indonesia denies the natives their fundamental rights
  2. Over 500,000 people have been brutally killed by the Indonesian security forces. What is happening here is clearly a genocide.
  3. Large multinationals, in connivance with the Indonesian government, are forcefully taking over the ancestral lands of the region's tribes for palm oil cultivation and mining
  4. Unless the West Papuan movement succeeds one of the world's last frontiers of biodiversity and culture will be lost forever
  5. Journalists are prevented from entering West Papua and reporting on the horrible human rights abuses that happen there
  6. A victory for the West Papuans will be a source of hope to all subjugated people around the world. Perhaps even in your own country.

Now that most of the forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo have been logged for timber and oil palm cultivation, Indonesia has turned its focus to West Papua, which it considers to be the next frontier. The photo is from Riau, Sumatra.
Now that most of the forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo have been logged for timber and oil palm cultivation, Indonesia has turned its focus to West Papua, which it considers to be the next frontier. The photo is from Riau, Sumatra. | Source

How can I help?

There are numerous ways in which you can help the suffering people of West Papua attain their dream of freedom from the oppressive rule of Indonesia.


  1. Encourage a global boycott of products originating from Indonesia as a sign of protest against the country's policies in West Papua
  2. Consciously work towards a planned network of media professionals, doctors, lawyers, musicians, DJs, etc. to be the flag-bearers/ambassadors of the West Papuan movement, and keep them in the loop of developments within the movement
  3. Begin a large-scale online signature campaign asking for a free and fair referendum on West Papuan independence (if only to achieve the goal of wider awareness of the movement through it going viral)
  4. .Use your talent in music, writing, photography, etc. to bring awareness on the suffering of the West Papuan people.
  5. join the organization 'Free West Papua' and participate in its activities. Consider donating to it.
  6. Make a short youtube video expressing your views on the happenings in West Papua
  7. Post a status on Facebook highlighting the human rights violations in the region

If you know of any other ways in which the message of West Papuan freedom can be shared with the world, do post in the comments section.

Do you support the West Papuans' struggle for freedom?

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Express your solidarity with West Papua

It is our responsibility as human beings to raise our voices in protest when our brothers and sisters are treated worse than animals. In this era of the internet, one doesn't always have to be in a place to participate in an activity. It is possible, even while being thousands of miles away, to make a mark.

It is a shame that the powerful governments of the world choose to keep silent on West Papua despite the terrible atrocities that are being perpetrated there.

You and I, as individuals, can help raise awareness around the world on the situation in this region. We can help rally global opinion against Indonesia. We can make a difference!

Please make it a point to share the message of the suffering people of Papua with those you know. Lets not let crass commercial interests triumph over what is truly precious: the value of every life!

Join the global movement for West Papua. The photograph is of a protest in Melbourne, Australia, in August 2012.
Join the global movement for West Papua. The photograph is of a protest in Melbourne, Australia, in August 2012. | Source

A Song for West Papua: Smol fyah-Free

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    • profile image

      David L 18 months ago

      Australia are becoming the Pariah of the South Pacific region, by financially supporting , morally backing and bowing to Indonesia in just about everything they do. Australia trains Indo special forces and other military who then use their new found knowledge to commit genocide in West Papua. Why does Australia support them, are they afraid of the Indo Army. Why does Australia continue to give them aid money when they can afford to maintain their big standing army. As an Australian, like many others we want our government to stop giving our hard earned money to Indonesia and grow some balls and stand up to them. Australia used to have a reputation for its military toughness, but the politicians have killed all this.

    • profile image

      Paul 18 months ago

      How about posting a list of Indonesian products so these products can be boycotted. Boycotting Bali must come first.

    • profile image

      Free West Papua Party 19 months ago

      THE FREEDOM OF WEST PAPUA NEEDS TO BE PURSUED IN EVERY PEACEFUL WAY POSSIBLE!

      For this reason the Free West Papua political Party is the game changer that is needed in Australia to free West Papua! http://freewestpapuaperthaustralia.blogspot.com.au...

      To officially register the Party we need 500 members so that we can present our registration to the Australian Electoral Commission. And this is where YOU can dramatically help. Membership is $1 and you can download the membership form at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B27n3cmOkqI4bzhtc... West Papua Merdeka!

    • profile image

      Qadly 2 years ago

      Guys you need to know. Papua has a lot of resources such as Gold that US lived from our Gold mining and specially they (Freeport) US mining company just gave to our Country Indonesia only 4% from the profits. The waste from our gold could be a silver and cooper materials . The deeper you dig the land, there's bigger than just a gold. We have Uranium under our land in West Papua. Can you imagine how could not so much Country want to invides and take control West Papua from Indonesia. There's much NGO who start war and pitting our Country with negatives issues. There's someone with big obsession to take advantages from Indonesia.

    • rohanfelix profile image
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      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I totally agree Elizabeth. We just cannot trust our governments on this. America seems to invade countries only when it can gain something in economic terms. In the case of West Papua, America is part of the great resource loot.

    • profile image

      elizabeth thurbon 3 years ago

      The fate of people invaded by powerful countries such as Indonesia and China is so sad because no-one wants to upset the invaders. It will have to be a people movement that frees the people of West Papua and Tibet.

    • rohanfelix profile image
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      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      And people like me stand with you in this. Papua's victory is victory for mankind!

    • profile image

      verry wopari 3 years ago

      it is a fraction of what is profiled, there is still much to do, but all shrouded, we shout for justice but we are imprisoned, tortured, terrorized, raped and killed, by the Indonesian nation, we just want to be free, independent and free, we need the support of brothers, sisters, your support means so much, we do not want anymore blood of innocent people of Papua splashed down, our land again, ..!!

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      I like many others didn't know anything about this. You make very convincing arguments.

    • profile image

      Jonno 3 years ago

      I lived in West Papua for 4 years and did not witness any so called negative acts towards Papuans. I have witnessed first hand many acts of violence and murder towards Indonesians from Papuans however. Just Saying!

    • rohanfelix profile image
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      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      You are right.... Not just the United States, but most of the Western World is only interested in resources... Thanks for sharing!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      I see why the United States isn't taking part in helping the people of West Papua. It goes to show how we don't care and how we only care about resources. it is quite sickening that the United States isn't doing more to help or to at least interfere. No one deserves to have their life taken. Up and shared with others.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you for the wise decision! When there are no buyers for products from a region, the loot will stop.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I have not read any of this on the news and wonder why, but then as you wrote - the journalists are not allowed in the country. Very disturbing to hear how others are being treated in West Papau. I will certainly keep aware of the products coming from this area and avoid the purchase. Thanks for sharing.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you for the support!

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent and important Hub, Rohanfelix. This and all human genocides are horrible and must be addressed by the entire world. Outrages such as these must be eliminated from our world.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I'm glad you found this article useful!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Wow thanks for bringing this to the forefront. I hadn't heard of any of this, and actually know a few people who live over here.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I'm really happy to hear from you! When people from around the world, and especially Papua New Guinea, support the suffering brothers and sisters of West Papua, change will surely come... The land grabbing corporations will face their match...

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you for your time FlourishAnyway! You always make meaningful suggestions. I will certainly do research towards a hub on Palm oil production and consumption...

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you Lambservant! It's true that if the rich were to support the oppressed, meaningful change would be possible, but here, the sad fact is that the rich are misusing money power...

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Very true! Thanks for your clear analysis!

    • profile image

      Corney Korokan ALONE 3 years ago

      Appreciate this excellent article.

      Thank you for your equally great support in raising this modern day genocide brilliantly for the global audience.

      Slowly Papua New Guineans are growing their spines to show support for Independence for West Papua. They resemble us in every sense of humanity.

      The recent (1st Dec 2013) raising of the "Morning Star" flag of West Papua in Papua New Guinea's capital city' (Port Moresby) City Hall was a rude reminder that the Melanesians of East New Guinea will no longer be keeping silent anymore. Our thanks to our brave Governor, Hon. Powes Parkop.

      The support here is slowly but surely gaining momentum.

      We continue to take comfort on the courage and timeless words of Mahatma Gahandi who inspired great leaders like Nelson Madiba Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Bishop Desmond Tutu, John Minto and others.

      Freedom will reign in West Papua - one fine day!

      Don't lose hope.

      Your brother from Papua New Guinea

      Corney Korokan ALONE'

      Port Moresby

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I was blissfully unaware of this sad situation. The average American knows nothing of it, I imagine. I have to admit, too, that I had little inkling of where palm oil came from or its environmental impact. Just never considered it. This is another reason why we should eat lower on the food chain, locally grown vegetables and fruits in their natural uncooked states whenever possible. Thanks for sharing the information. You might consider doing an educational hub on what palm oil is, where it comes from, health effects, environmental impacts, any healthful alternatives that may exist, and the ultimate choice each of us faces. You make us think.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      This is indeed distressing. The average American knows nothing about this. Unfortunately there are many nations where these things are going on. The American press does not focus enough on these issues, If only the tremendous waste of our money and resources could be sent to help. Why do Hollywood stars and athletes make millions of dollars (for mostly garbage) and the execs too when even in our own nation there are in justices. America cannot save the world, But if they would choose to help in situations without ulterior motives. How shameful of Austrailia too. This was a very well written hub. Thank you for bring this to our attention. I will look into some of your suggestions.

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 3 years ago from USA

      Free West Papua, Free Palestine, Free Congo... Another country resisting a colonizer!

      Unfortunately violence is needed to be heard. To let the UN decides for your freedom is an aberration given it is controlled by the superpowers.

      It is another example of why the US, the so-called freedom fighter that it boosts when it comes to middle eastern affairs keeps silent when its interests are safeguarded by Indonesia. Indonesia has a crack on its image and our "democracies" remain "clean".

      You can ask yourself, why does a negligent country like Indonesia can meddle in West Papua without being disturbed while committing atrocities. It is simple, it provides what the West needs at an advantageous rate. Yourself you underlined its wealth.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Nobody cares for Papua, west or east! innocent people are ravaged and killed day in and out. They need a charismatic leader to take up their cause before the world can focus on them.

    • mintinfo profile image

      mintinfo 3 years ago

      Wonderful Hub about a very grievous topic. I started a question on this on HP some time back and have posted about it on my other blogs. It is a clear example of why I hate the so called morally just leaders of the world. It shows that their interest in a "new world order" is motivated by financial gain.

      I will continue to spread the word so that one day West Papua will be free and that some of their freedom fighters will be considered by the hypocrites in the UN to be heroes.

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