The Indonesian government has engaged in a spin campaign over the recent wave of mysterious shootings in Indonesian-occupied West Papua in an attempt to derail the struggle for independence. With no evidence, Indonesian police have blamed the shootings on the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its armed wing, the National Liberation Army. Several Papuan independence activists were killed, along with others wounded or killed since the attacks began in late May.
West Papua has been rocked by a wave of shootings and repression in recent weeks that has left many parts of the occupied nation in a state of fear. Indonesian security forces went on a rampage in the highlands town of Wamena, killing one person, injuring many others and destroying property on June 6. Human rights group Tapol said on June 8 the soldiers were seeking revenge for an attack by locals on two colleagues who had run over a three-year-old child with a motorbike. Locals killed one of the soldiers on the motorbike and the other was severely beaten.
Hearings began last month into the case of five West Papuan independence leaders on trial for treason. They were arrested with hundreds of others when Indonesian troops attacked the Papuan People's Congress on October 19 last year. The conference had declared the Indonesian-occupied territory an independent state. West Papua was officially annexed by Indonesia's Suharto dictatorship in 1969 in a United Nations-supervised “act of free choice”, in which only 1022 Papuans were allowed to vote.
Deadly repression in Indonesia has refocussed attention on the role of Australian mining companies in human rights abuses in the country. People of the Paniai region in Indonesian-occupied West Papua have lived in terror since November. The Australian government-trained “anti-terrorist” unit Detachment 88 (D88) and Brimob paramilitary force launched an offensive in the area that month to eliminate fighters from the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
The statement below was released by a range of Asian left and workers' organisations on December 11. * * * Workers at the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine in West Papua are striking for a wage increase. The strike started on September 15 and it involves nearly 12,000 workers. It was called after the negotiation between the union and the management went into deadlock. The striking workers want to be paid US$7.50 per hour (for grade F1) to $18 per hour (for grade A5) instead of the $2.10 per hour to $3.50 per hour they are currently receiving.
Strike action by thousands of workers at the notorious Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua since September 15 has brought operations to a halt, despite attempts to stop the strike. The mine is the largest and most profitable in territory controlled by Indonesia and has a long association with human rights abuses. It is owned by US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan and British-Australian company Rio Tinto. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia for nearly five decades, despite strong demands from Papuans for self-determination.
Indonesian army forces brutally attacked the Papuan national conference in Abepura on October 19. The conference was attended by up to 20,000 people discussing West Papua's struggle for independence from Indonesia. WestPapuaMedia.info said on October 21 that local sources confirmed six people were killed. New Matilda.com reported on October 20 an account from a priest who saw a truck full of arrested people who were “covered with blood” and had been “beaten and shot”.
A leaked report from the notorious Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus detailing information about the West Papuan independence movement has drawn attention to Indonesia's brutal occupation of the region. The report is titled “Anatomy of Papuan Separatists” and is believed to have been written in 2009. It profiles opponents of Indonesian rule, including political activists and guerilla fighters. It also listed foreign politicians and journalists who supported Papuan liberation.
Thousands of West Papuans rallied for independence on August 2, despite attempts by the Indonesian government to scare people away. About 10,000 people protested across Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Radio Australia's Pacific Beat said on August 3. They demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia. The largest protest took place in the capital Jayapura. Hundreds of heavily armed riot police and soldiers hindered protesters marching from Abepura and Waena who were trying to march into Jayapura, West Papua Media Alerts said on August 2.
About 6000 people rallied in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua on May 2 demanding a referendum on independence. The demonstration also commemorated the illegal occupation of West Papua in 1963. West Papua Media Alerts reported on May 2 that West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Victor Yeimo said: “We want to show Indonesia and the international community that we are not just a handful of people who want independence. All people of West Papua want to be free.”