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Plight of West Papua ‘Creeping Genocide’



General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote - RNZI

General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote – RNZI.

By Taina Kami Enoka

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, will be asked to support the Free West Papua movement today (11/6/2015).

The request will be made during a meeting between Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octovianus Mote.

Mr. Mote is in Samoa as part of a trip around the region to meet country leaders, seeking support for their membership on the Melanesian Spearhead Group (M.S.G.) as well as the Pacific Islands Forum (P.I.F.).


In the country until Friday, Mr. Mote, who lives in exile in the United States of America, was previously in Tonga where he met King Tupou V and Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

He gained their full support.

According to Mr. Mote, when West Papua gained Independence in 1961, Samoa was one of the few countries that was represented at the celebrations. Samoa also played a big part in taking Christianity to its shores.

West Papua also took part in the formation of the P.I.F. Later that same year, Indonesia took over and severed all ties with the region. Now West Papua needs Samoa’s help.
“The main reason why I’m here for is because West Papua is under threat today,” he told the Samoa Observer.

Mr. Mote said that the population, which was once 1.5 million, now stands at only 48 percent of that and already, his people are a minority in their own land.

Should the trend continue, in 2020, the population will be less than 23 percent.
“That means five years from now, we will lose everything. We need to stop this because Indonesia is really speeding up their colonisation.”

No journalists are allowed to access West Papua and therefore there has been no news about what is actually happening. Only last year, through social media pages that the realities in West Papua have been captured and as a result gained attention.
“I look at it as a sign from the Lord, when we don’t have anything at all, we get this.”

But there’s more. The Prime Ministers of Fiji and Papua New Guinea have not acted and identified this as an internal issue of Indonesia.
“How can you allow this? Indonesia is [slaughtering] our people. I grew up with these issues from a very, very young age. My uncles were slaughtered in front of me!”

Mr. Mote has seen his people slaughtered in the capital of Jayapura. The corpses are placed in rice bags and one could see their feet.

In those days, if you killed somebody and brought parts of their body as evidence to the Commander, a promotion was guaranteed, Mr. Mote said. That was in the 1970’s.

In the 1980’s, there was a huge mobilisation to escape to Papua New Guinea. And at the end of the 1990’s, in the villages, a couple would be arrested and made to have sex in front of the whole village. The flesh would be cut off a man that was slaughtered, sautéd and his family forced to eat it.
“This is not historical evidence. It is ongoing. Not like Judaism and holocaust happenings that have already passed. At West Papua, it’s ongoing,” he said.

The movement has applied for M.S.G. membership. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill wants the movement to be represented by the Indonesian Governor of West Papua instead, using their application.
“We were the ones that applied. Then he says, well you applied, but I will put this Governor to sit on your application. What the heck!” he asked.

Mr. Mote says that Fiji‘s response is okay, in order for dialogue to take place, Indonesia should also be invited.
“That’s a good idea but where are we as West Papua? Will we be accepted as full members so we can actually talk to them or are you want to represent us? And for me as a journalist, an intellectual and a Christian, I cannot understand. On the human rights issue, Indonesia is killing a nation not a couple of people and we know for sure, there are so many academic reports about what’s happening in West Papua. This is not a scenario we are creating to get political support. This is a reality! For me as a Pacific Islander, as people who always help each other, you don’t want to intervene?” he added.

The incidents in West Papua are described in academic reports as a ‘creeping genocide’.

Mr. Mote says there are four such reports by Sydney University, Yale University, the Asian Human Rights Institution in Hong Kong and even the Indonesian Human Rights Commission. Mr. Mote wants to build awareness among Pacific Island leaders.
“I am very pleased that Civil Society and people all though the Pacific, through Facebook we have a solidarity. Nobody can stop this wave. We may be made of small islands but if you look at the Pacific Ocean, we control half of the earth. I see that there are waves when people know about it and Indonesia can never stop it.”

From Mr. Mote’s experience, it is easier to gain support from Polynesian leaders. He also has the support of Vanuatu and Kanak and is confident that Solomon Islands will come on board.

With Fiji, the movement has been endorsed by the grassroots, church leaders, indigenous people and Non-Government Organisations.

The Prime Minister is under pressure.
“Either they ignore their societies … you can’t stop this. This is not an internal issue. This is a human rights issue!”

A Right To Protect concept endorsed by the United Nations in 2001, was about interfering with genocide. A team was set up and if there was a nation or group of people who are not protected by their own government, it is a responsibility of the U.N. and other countries to protect that group.

That, Mr. Mote says, is the concept that P.N.G. and Fiji should follow and also the P.I.F., because of the human rights tragedy.
“It’s not a war zone but a creeping genocide. It’s slow motion but done in a variety of ways.”

When military operations are conducted, villagers flee and the military waits in their gardens for them to return for food. This is when they are slaughtered. Those who choose to stay in the forests, die of malnutrition.

Pigs were injected with tape worms in 1970-71. It started at Mr. Mote’s village, when the people ate pig and spread to the border of P.N.G.

In 1968-69, the people of West Papua went to war with Indonesia, where many of their people were killed. They retaliated in 1970-71, knowing how important pigs were in their culture.

Sex workers infected with the HIV virus are sent into the villages and couple of the reports from the Catholic Church have said that the genocide is systematic and Indonesia knows when they can take over the entire land.

Women give birth and their reproduction organs are cut afterwards. Families are allowed only two children.

A research at one cemetery showed that 68 percent of deaths were of women at a reproductive age.
“You can see from this one example, you’ve lost one generation, because you have to wait for the next one. The way they do it, is like targeting and done strategically. We really would like to argue for leaders of the Forum for West Papua human rights issues to be on the agenda.” Mote said.

Meanwhile, no action has been made to address this by Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Mote says that for these nations, Indonesia is more important.

He hopes that Micronesia and Polynesia will push for Australia and New Zealand for support as part of the Pacific.
“You cannot turn a blind eye. You want to be Asia, go for Asia! Prime Minister of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji stand up for what they believe. Australia, you can exist and be part of the [Pacific Islands Forum] but you can’t dictate us. You can’t allow this only because they give you money. When people support the human rights tragedy in Papua, governments have to listen. I’m certain that once all leaders stand together, Australia and New Zealand can’t say no.” he added.

With China’s influence in the Pacific, a power balance has taken place. Mr Mote says that Australia needs to stand up for the real issues of the people of the South Pacific, global warming, human rights and a right of self determination.
“We have to end colonisation. I think it is important for leaders in the region to stand for the people. Enough is enough! Our voices need to be heard and we can make decisions based on our belief system. How we relate to one another. Regardless of how far we are spread, we are one.” he conluded.

Then there is the issue of dealing with cheque book diplomacy, the promise of millions in return for support.

In West Papua, are many multinational companies, an American company, British Petroleum has gas, China has all sorts of mining areas, Germany, a mega billion hydraulic power project and Russia, a satellite project, Korea, logging, Bin Laden Group a mega billion plantation project 1.2 million hectares to grow basmati rice for Middle East markets.
“But hey, we are believers, we are Christians and we have faith. For me, it’s David versus a Goliath.” Mote said again.

Mr. Mote acknowledged the prayers for his people was one thing Indonesia does not have.

These are prayers of faith that all these powerful nations don’t have.
“It is a testimony, if my people have faith and pray, we can defeat the big enemy.” he said. (*)

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The origin of Indonesian racism towards Papuans and its implication to a Free West Papua Movement



Lukas Enembe, the governor of Papua Province talks to thoousands protester in Jayapura – Supplied

By Yamin Kogoya

ESCALATING violence and attacks on Papuan students saw thousands of young people march on the streets and set fire to the Parliament building in West Papua on 19th August 2019. This was in response to Papuan students being attacked in their dormitory in Surabaya last week after they had alleged bent a flagpole during the Indonesian Independence Day celebrations (on 17 August).

Surabaya police chief, senior commissioner Sandi Nugroho, said the attack on the Papuan student dormitory was carried out by Indonesian nationalist community groups who were angered by the treatment of their national flag.

In an effort to restore calm, the Papua Governor, Lukas Enembe called on all Indonesian citizens to respect their  national value of “unity in diversity” (Bhineka Tunggal Ika), and for the security forces to act professionally and in accordance with Indonesian laws and to not let activist groups take the law in their own hands. He reiterated that Papuans studying in Indonesian cities and towns must be treated with dignity and respect and is how Papuans treat Indonesians studying in West Papua.


The timing of last weeks’ attacks, retaliations and protests could not be more significant for both the Papuans and Indonesians. On 16th August 2019, the leaders of Pacific Island nations passed several resolutions regarding the Papuan genocide at the Pacific Island Forums, while 17th August 2019 was the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day.

Papuans are no stranger to Indonesia’s cruel and violent racism and which they have endured since the 1960s. Papuans have died, been marginalized, and had their rights denied because of racism.

Filep Karma, a West Papuan political activist experienced firsthand racism by Indonesians during his university years, and in 2014 said: “As If We Are Half Animal: Indonesia’s Racism in Papua Land”.

Fifty-six years later, and these cruel racial slurs are alive and thriving as Papuans continue to be called monkeys, insinuating that they are primitive. This insult cuts deep in the hearts of Papuans.

Just last week, Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer, Veronica Koman posted videos on her Twitter feed of Indonesian demonstrators holding up picture monkeys and chanted “kick out, kick out the transmigrants, kick out transmigrants now”.

While the world’s media is focusing on the violence involved in the demonstrations, they are ignoring what is at the heart of the demonstrations, that being racism. It is not acceptable to call Papuans monkeys, effectively denying them their fundamental intrinsic value of being human. And while President Joko Widodo called on his brothers and sisters in Papua and West Papua to forgive and forget, the racial harassment and discriminations against Papuan students has been ongoing.

Governor Enembe said “Papuans students throughout Indonesia always get called Monkey and are not safe”. During an interview on Indonesian TV ONE, he condemned the way Papuan students are treated in other parts of Indonesia. “It has been 74 years since Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch and this country still treats my people inhumanly. If the situation doesn’t improve, I will bring my Papuan students back home”.

Racism is a weapon deploy by the colonial power to break down the Papuan human spirit.  This is the same weapon Indonesia is using that was used on them by the Europeans, and who killed millions of the first nation people around the world over 500 years.

As the Jakarta Post[1] reported “racism” is at the heart of the Surabaya -West Papua conflict, and highlighted Indonesia’s own experience of racism under the Dutch colonial rule.

It appears that after 74 years of independence from the Dutch, and despite Indonesia’s national ideology of “Pancasila” and “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” (Five constitutional Pillars and Unity in Diversity”, it is still suffering from the decades of racial abuse under Dutch rule.

Indonesian treatment of Papuans is like a revenge towards unexamined grievances they suffered. Papuans’ genocide at the hands of Indonesia in West Papua and unprecedented destruction of their ancestral homeland originated in the minds of racist Europeans.  But they are projecting their anger onto the wrong people. They should direct their anger onto the Dutch and Western Governments.

The Dutch used guns and the Bible to tame the Indigenous Indonesian over 300 years. They broke their human spirit and imagination through racial discrimination. They were dehumanized and used as a lethal weapon against all other non-Dutch Europeans.

The Dutch implemented a class system whereby the Indonesians were third class citizens, well beneath the first-class Europeans, and the second-class Chinese and Arabs.

And so, the cycle continues, with Indonesia trying to dehumanize and break the Papuan spirit so they can rebuild them to identity with Indonesian colonial ideas.

Indonesia wants to love Papuans and accept them as part of Indonesia. However, they can’t because, just like their former European colonialists, Indonesia has wrong and distorted information about Papuans.

As articulated by sociologist Thomas Scheff in the Jakarta Post[2] on Friday, May 31, 2013:

“there is no love between Papuans and Indonesians. It is infatuation. Genuine love requires detailed knowledge of the other”.

Another tragic learned behaviour from the Dutch is Indonesia taking the role of “definer”. Essentially, Indonesia sees itself as the tape measure that other people and cultures have to measure up to or ‘be defined’.

Papuans are subjected to racism everywhere they go, from university dormitories, the marketplace and on the streets. The Papuan values, feelings, emotions and psychology are under constant attack by the colonial racist system. This is the institutionalized racism to poison the soul of Papuans.

West Papua has been treated as a commodity for years, being passed around and sacrificed as world leaders saw fit. The USA, Australia, Dutch and Indonesia decided its fate during the negotiations in the 1960s. It was sacrificed for world peace on UN’s alter in 1963 and handed over to Indonesia in an attempt to halt the spread of communism in Indonesia (by way of providing an army).  Remarkably, West Papuans was never considered nor were they invited to participate in this meeting

US president Kennedy referred to West Papuans as “The 700,000 living in the stone age…a few thousand square miles of cannibals land.” Papuans was used to secure the interest of Western governments and the Soviet Bloc. They had no value and rights. The result of these negotiations cost millions of Papuan lives.[3]

Western policy makers were more concerned with teaching Papuans how to eat with knife and fork rather than their rights for political independence.

Unfortunately for Papuans, their relationship with Europeans has always been tainted by racism. The Western governments, Chinese, Indonesian and industrialised countries always assume that natural state of being Papuan is not desirable which is why they always attempt to dehumanise the Papuans.

According to Dr. Tarcisius kabutaulaka, associate professor at the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the Univeristy of Hawaii, European’s have always placed Melanesian people at the bottom of human hierarchy because of their darker skin colours and cultural traits that led to them being viewed as primitive. They bare the internal stigma of “Oceanic Negroes”.  The crimes Melanesian committed to be boxed at the bottom of Europeans category was simply the fact. [4]

The intriguing aspect about this recent demonstration is how seriously Papuan students and young people are taking the issue of ‘racism’. They are using the ongoing racism to voice their deep aspiration for independence from Indonesia.

Recently, Indonesia has been focusing on building diplomatic relationships with the Pacific island countries but, how can a genuine relationship be built and sustained when one party approaches the other with a paternalistic colonial mental outlook? This was evident during the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland[5] whereby the Indonesian government did not disclose the real issues faced by Papuans. What Indonesia did display was misconstrued image of the Papuan.

If Indonesia continues to see Papuans through the lens of racism (monkey), why would they treat any other black race in the Oceania with love and respect. To build a sense of brotherhood among all men across all our cultural and religious prejudices, we need a new interconnectedness worldview, not racially fragmented one.

if President Jokowi was sincere about calling Papuans “brothers and sisters” then it is time for Indonesian to treat Papuans with dignity and respect, including the overwhelming desire by Papuans for “Independence”.  Otherwise these words are meaningless.

Despite the Indonesian effort to truncate the growing support for an independent West Papua, the Pacific island leaders did pass a few resolutions in during last week PIF’s meeting in Tuvalu.

What do these resolutions really mean to Papuans? Whether it was a mere Orwellian exercise concocting the final communique -a pure fiasco or it is one of the steps that will enable the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to enter UN General Assembly, one thing is clear that support for the West Papuans plight is growing.

This support from Pacific island communities will likely grow in the future if Indonesia continues to mistreat their fellow Papuans.

Calling Papuans a monkey can and will ignite the fire of resistance (as seen by thousands of Papuans protesting and setting fire to parliament house). The issue of racism is serious and failure to recognise this will end up costing Indonesia the very thing they are trying to hold on to.

As Evi Mariani warned Jakarta in her paper published yesterday by the Jakarta Post[6]:

“Racism in the love story in Bumi Manusia is the prequel to Indonesia’s budding nationalism against the occupation of the Dutch before our independence in 1945. Surely, we would not want the racism befalling Papuans to pave the way for their struggle for independence from “Indonesian occupation” on their land”.

The outspoken Free West Papua advocate, the governor of PNG Oro Province, Gary Juffa has warned through his official Facebook page that:

“In case any of you have any misconception about your future fate at the hands of expanding Indonesian influence…here is a grim remainder…if they call our brothers and sisters monkeys…on their own land…that is exactly what they are calling us now”

The leaders of “Blue Pacific” cannot be naïve like a rabbit by inviting the wolves from Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra to discuss about what they are going to have for dinner. Dangerous and yet virtues rabbit is better than harmless and virtue less creature that lives only to be eaten by predators.

It is West Papua’s deepest hope that the Pacific Island leaders will not sacrifice West Papua by accepting a worldly materialistic offer by Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra. How remarkable it would be in this modern world for the racially abused and subjugated people are able to stand firm against the might and reject the gold in favour of their own souls. That would be the retelling of an old story written anew. (*)

Author is Australia-based anthropologist


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Who actually benefits from the Trans Papua Highway?



President Widodo’s entourage visiting Trans Papua Highway construction (Biro Pers)

Papua, JubiIndonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Cahyo Pamungkas says that the Trans Papua Highway has yet to bring any benefits to the Papuan people.

“The benefits for indigenous people can’t be seen yet. So people ask who exactly is the road for? Because the there is still illegal logging in the central highlands, the highlands are being destroyed, it’s easier for outsiders to exploit natural resources”, said Pamungkas at a press conference on the conflict in Nduga regency at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Jakarta on Thursday July 18.

Pamungkas explained that instead of benefiting ordinary Papuans, the Trans Papua Highway threatens their economic wellbeing.

“Pig livestock from Toraja comes into Wamena. So the Wamena’s people’s pigs don’t sell. This threatens their economy. It is increasingly easy for outsiders to come to Wamena, so Wamena people see the road as a threat to their future”, explained Pamungkas.


Pamungkas said that the Trans Papua Highway project only connects regencies or cities and the benefits of this are not felt by the Papuan people. Meanwhile roads between villages and districts which are in fact what is actually needed are not being built.

“Yet roads like this (between villages and districts) are very important, for example simply to sell vegetables produced by farmers in markets”, said Pamungkas.

According to Pamungkas, the Trans Papua Highway actually facilitates the exploitation of natural resources which can be seen from large number of trees being felled and gold mining.

“Moreover when LIPI researched development on this road, we found many logging camps for logging in the direction of the Papua Lorentz National Park, which should a protected area”, explained Pamungkas.

Pamungkas is of the view that the government should immediately hold a dialogue with Papuan social leaders with the assistance of appropriate mediators.

“Because the most important thing at the moment is liberating the Papuan people from the memory of suffering which has built up over time. Particularly the acts of violence by security forces which has resulted in trauma for the residents of Nduga regency, Papua province”, he explained.

Local people’s rights

Expressing a similar view to Pamungkas, Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Aviva Nababan believes that the Trans Papua Highway does not provide any clear benefits. He also questions the government’s planning process for the road.

“Looking at it again from the process. Did the government design its function by thinking about the rights of the people the road impacts on? Did they really follow the principles of involving local communities? If not, this needs to be fixed. We think it shouldn’t be seen from the perspective of western Indonesia. There’s a road, lovely. There’s a road, great”, said Nababan at Jakarta LBH on Friday July 19.

Nababan warned that Indonesia has a commitment to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meaning that it must involve local communities in all development planning.

He also asked the government to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans. Because according to Amensty’s research, there have been alleged human rights (HAM) violations which have made Nduga residence traumatised and afraid of the security forces.

“When there are problems of HAM violations related to law enforcement in Papua, the tendency is that the cases are rarely investigated. Let alone followed up, or satisfactory accountability”, he explained. (*)



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Do you know how vital Papua is for the environment?



By Benjamin Ware

DO you know how vital Papua is for the environment? This province in Eastern Indonesia is home to the last big area of intact forest in the country, and one of the world’s most biodiverse. It is also the poorest part of Indonesia – nearly 30% of people here live in poverty.

Growing palm oil can be a way out of this poverty trap, but it also brings with it the risk of deforestation. In 2018 Greenpeace exposed large-scale deforestation in Papua linked to palm oil business Gama, which was then suspended from our supply chain.

That same year, Nestlé suspended 10 companies for violating our Responsible Sourcing Standard. Three for illegal deforestation in Papua, and one for the same offense in neighboring West Papua. This shows the seriousness of deforestation as a local issue.

What happens after we suspend a company from our supply chain?


Some companies continue with ‘business as usual’, while others sell off their remaining forested lands. Others, like Gama, act to halt deforestation and commit to ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) – the basis of responsible palm oil production and a requirement of our Responsible Sourcing Standard.

responsible sourcing papua

At Nestlé, we want to support companies like Gama to produce sustainable palm oil. Indeed, efforts are ongoing to develop standard re-entry criteria that suppliers found guilty of illegal deforestation must meet, before buying companies let them back into their supply chains.

Verifying supplier claims

We wanted to see Gama’s commitment to responsible production first hand, which is why Nestlé visited Papua in early 2019 with the NGO Aidenvironment Asia and one of our suppliers.

On the ground, we saw how Gama is implementing its new NDPE commitment, which involves working with Aidenvironment Asia on a remediation strategy for their lands in Papua and other parts of Indonesia.

action aid

Their work involves replanting ‘riparian zones’ (transitional zones between land and water) and deforested areas unplanted with palm oil, developing conservation plans for forested lands in Gama’s ‘land bank’, and generating compensation plans for lands cleared and planted.

Using concession maps from the supplier, Nestlé was able to monitor Gama’s sites via Starling. Since September 2018, this satellite-based system allows us to monitor our entire global palm oil supply chain for evidence of deforestation.

Satisfied with what we saw, we allowed Gama back into our supply chain on the condition that it does not clear any more forest or peatland (Aidenvironment will monitor this, and Nestlé also using Starling). Gama must also implement recovery and compensation plans that take account of local community needs.

Safeguarding people and planet

To some people, our move to allow Gama back into our supply chain before it completes its remediation plans might seem hasty. But we took this decision with one of our key Responsible Sourcing objectives in mind – what is best for people and planet.

papua forests

In Papua, proper planning to support conservation and sustainable economic development is vital. Local communities want Gama to develop their lands. If Gama does not do so, it runs the risk of losing the lands, which another, less scrupulous company could then clear.

At the same time, conservation is vital. Locals we met also want to conserve their local forest, which is central to their culture. Indonesia’s government thinks similarly – it wants to develop the region whilst conserving 90% of its forest cover under the Papua Province Vision.

The situation is complex, and the need to balance conservation and development objectives is not unique to Indonesia. In South America, West Africa and beyond, we face similar challenges.

Nonetheless, if you take one message from this blog – this is it. We can only preserve forests by supporting those companies that embrace forest conservation as part of a sustainable economic development plan.

By excluding those companies that are found guilty of deforestation, but work hard thereafter to do the right thing, we risk endangering the magnificent forests that remain. (*)

The author is Global Head of Responsible Sourcing

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