Nowhere in the modern world has an armed liberation struggle persisted for so long – nearly 30 years – and with such secrecy, as the West Papuan war of resistance against the military government of Indonesia. West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, formerly known as Dutch New Guinea about 300 km from the northern tip of Australia. The West Papua region is split into two provinces: West Papua and Papua. Its indigenous people have Melanesian roots. The main religion is Christianity followed closely by Islam.
After WWII, the Dutch, who colonized West Papua, began making preparations for its liberation, while Indonesia continued to lay claim to the territory. In 1961, Papuans raised their flag – The Morning Star – sang their national anthem and declared their independence. Soon after, Indonesia invaded, supported and armed by the Soviet Union. Fearing the spread of communism and with mining interests in West Papua, the U.S. intervened,and along with the UN, brokered the New York Agreement, giving interim control of West Papua (under UN supervision) to Indonesia in 1963, until a referendum could take place granting West Papuans a vote for either integration into Indonesia or self-determination. Over the next several years, before the vote, it’s estimated that 30,000 West Papuans were killed by Indonesian, military, in a brutal silencing of dissent and suppression of liberationist ideals.
In 1969, the vote – ironically called “The Act Of Free Choice” was fraudulent, the outcome controlled. Just one percent of the population was selected to vote, and those chosen were intimidated by security forces, resulting in a unanimous vote for West Papua to be ruled by Indonesia. A man claiming to be part of the one percent who voted describes the scenario in a documentary, his face obscured, saying that a gun was held to his head, as he was given the ultimatum – vote for Indonesia or be killed.
Since then, mass atrocities have been carried out by Indonesian security forces and human rights abuses continue to this day. West Papua is the most heavily militarized region of Indonesia, with an estimated 45,000 troops presently deployed, and an extra 650 soldiers patrolling the borders. It is to be noted that West Papua’s rich natural resources include the world’s largest gold reserves and huge reserves of copper.
NSFW and very graphic image ;