By Jim Hayes
Unknown to most Australians, a war is going on just north of Australia. Fuelling it, is a bid by West Papuans to win independence form Indonesian rule.
The war is intensifying. Civilian population centres are being subjected to bombing raids. Soldiers are picking up people and shooting them, and a range of other human rights abuses are being committed.
Indonesia has been maintaining a tight information lock down. Most media is forbidden access to West Papua and claims of abuse are routinely denied. But the smuggling out of video footage and other evidence can’t be stopped.
So far, Australia has seemed largely indifferent to what is going on. At the government level there is active cooperation with Indonesia. There is support for the occupation, which had been there for over 50 years. Indonesia claims that the population voted to become part of Indonesia in 1969. The problem with this is that barely 1,000 hand-picked individuals were allowed to vote. Integration has never been accepted.
This history and the war are largely blocked out of the Australian media. It brings up memories of earlier support for Indonesian occupation of West Timor. As a rule, Australians do not know what is going on.
It seems access to the mineral reserves of West Papua rates greater importance than human rights.
The independence movement has been scoring significant diplomatic wins in recent times, and the internal insurgency continues. The different groups have been finding greater unity. Indonesia is reacting to both.
Try what they may, the Indonesian occupation army has been unable to subdue the population. Demonstrations, illegal Morning Star flag raising ceremonies, and ambushes are gathering pace.
A major tactic being used has to organise large scale migration of Indonesians into West Papua and offering wealth form developing the minerals industry, as a means to create a social base of support for ongoing integration with Indonesia.
The independence movement is striving to achieve its objective through peaceful means. It has also been clear abouts it intentention to conitnue to defend itself and the people it represents.
A Four Corners crew has been able to get rare access. It is worthwhile watching their report. You can see it below.
The War next door
Video from Foreign Correspondent
Australia cannot continue to ignore the plight of our next door neighbours, and has a responsibility to stop giving support to Indonesia’s occupation. After all Australia participated in having the territory handed over. This was wrong and calls to be rectified.
We once rose as a nation behind the people of East Timor. We can do it again for the people of West Papua.