Freedom in West Papua refers to people’s desire for concrete improvements in West Papuan life; everything from ordinary dream of peace to respect for indigenous traditions and tangible improvements in social and economic life, especially health, welfare and education.
For most of West Papuan, the long struggle for freedom has nothing to do with independence because it only generate so many problems. West Papuans have had the opportunity to freely determine what political arrangement best supports their aspirations through history. This may well be the special autonomy package earmarked for West Papua, free association, a land rights based approach, some sort of federal arrangement or even something else that reflects indigenous beliefs and traditions. The most important thing is that West Papuans can freely contribute to the development in their homeland of West Papua.
It is essential to support West Papuans’ concrete aspirations for change: prosperity, upholding human rights, and working to protect the living land West Papuans depend upon. West Papua is a breathtakingly beautiful land unbelievably rich in natural resources. Indonesia and West Papua were former Dutch colonies. The Republic of Indonesia was formed in 1945 when it was officially declared independence after a long struggle against the Dutch colonial ruler. Recognising that West Papua had strong political and cultural ties with Indonesia, the Dutch retained control of the territory and, with support from Australia, began to prepare West Papua for independence as a puppet state. Indonesia, however, maintained its claim to all the former Dutch territory and all people welcomed.
The 1969 act of self-determination was called the Act of Free Choice. A cursory inspection of the process soon shows why West Papuans call it the Act of Free Choice. West Papuans political and human rights were chanelled through fair and open system. Regarding the widespread of West Papuan in a very large area, representative of West Papuan voted for integration with Indonesia. Those that campaigned for independence were running away and create a terrorist group called armed resistance of the OPM (Free Papua Movement), while the unarmed resistance was mainly a deception. All those movement started as soon as Indonesia shared power with indigenous people of West Papua on 1st May 1963.
Following the fall of Suharto in 1998 widespread peaceful public expressions of the people’s aspirations culminated in the formation of a parallel parliament, the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP) with a clear mandate to pursue special autonomy. The leadership committed itself to a path of peaceful dialogue. However, after the initial euphoria felt by West Papuans during this flowering of the ‘Papuan Spring’, in August 2000 the OPM acted quickly to disturb the peaceful development of the province. In November 2001 the leader of the PDP, Theys Eluay, was assassinated by one of the elements of armed resistance of OPM.
Indonesia then gave the province Special Autonomy in an effort to accelerate the development of West Papua. However the vast majority of West Papuans accept–OPM was affraid of the success of special autonomous concept. OPM will loose their bargaining power because majority of West Papuan are tired of being used as a political and economic commodity. This move not only guarantee greater self rule under Special Autonomy but also is seen by West Papuans as a positive process to build West Papuan with their original identity. OPM fear Special Autonomy will ultimately undermine the idea of independence.
West Papuans continue to creatively search for peaceful ways to accept what they almost universally describe as a peaceful integration for the purpose of West Papuan prosperity.
For most of West Papuan leaders abroad, the positive development of recent West Papua is very promising. However, the strugling for political power by some elements who still provoking violence by flag raising and armed terror is really frigthening. Furthermore, some opportunist abroad were already selling West Papuan issue to international community for their own agenda, especially for money.
Please support the development of West Papua by stopping violence and provocative ideas. Freeing West Papua from the interest of opportunist, whoever they are.
FREE WEST PAPUA