Contributed by Ben Wilson
West Papuan are waging an uprising against Indonesian occupation, and the occupying troops are shooting civilians in increasing numbers. More are being detained and lawyers are being threatened.
Why are West Papuans protesting?
Video by ABC News (Australia)
Instead of being subdued, West Papuans are challenging Indonesian rule in ever bigger numbers. Indonesia has been trying to suppress the news. But this has not been able to stop news that is being smuggled out or posted on social media.
The ongoing West Papuan uprising
The Australian government continues to support the Indonesian occupation.
Tom Connor, the Assistant Secretary of the Indonesian branch of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs wrote on 4 September that Australia is bound to the Lomboc Treaty, which gave Indonesia control over the territory.
What the West Papuans want has never been considered and it still isn’t.
West Papua had been colonised by the Dutch and in 1963 was handed over to Indonesia by the United Nations.
There was a condition that there must be referendum so that west Papuans can vote on whether they want to be part of Indonesia or not. A now widely regarded fraudulent referendum was held. Only 1,000 people were allowed to cast a ballot.
Few supported rule from what they consider a foreign power, and a long period of resistance and striving for independence begun.
The present troubles begun in August triggered by a racist slur, which saw students erupt in a region wide protest. The unrest continues and morphed into a full-blown call for independence.
The response has been heavy handed, and it has not worked.
Indonesian security forces open fire at student rally in West Papua
Video by Guardian News
For the first time, a considerable body of support for the West Papuans is building across Indonesia itself. Support is also starting to grow in Australia and other countries.
Signs are that Indonesia’s control is starting to unravel. Protests are getting bigger and increasingly determined.
This has invited a crackdown that has forced thousands to leave their homes, and the death toll is mounting. Yesterday, the official death toll stood at 32. The number of victims is expected to rise as the search for relatives continues.
Three West Papuan civilians killed, four injured in clashes with Indonesian forces
Video from SBS News
Indonesian president Joko Widodo is so worried, that he has taken to calling reports on what is going on fake news. At the same time, he appealed to West Papuans, to “not be provoked by a hoax.” By saying this, he has admitted by default, that what is going on is much more than a manufactured story.
Indonesia’s political leadership can deny it and their Australian equivalent can turn a blind eye. This will not stop the graphic images and eye witness accounts from getting out and exposing the truth.
Australia is considering handing over an Indonesian human rights layer now living in Australia, Veronica Koman, who is being accused of spreading lies about West Papua and inciting unrest. She faces charges under Indonesia’s controversial electronic and transactions law, which carries a term of imprisonment for up to 6 years.