West Papua’s History

In 1961 West Papua was registered with the United Nations as a Non-Self-Governing Territory of The Netherlands and firmly on the path towards independence. The people had created the New Guinea Council as a national representative body, regional councils, and within these, any number of village councils reflecting the decentralised and autonomous social system. ¬†Furthermore the people had: proclaimed to be called Papuans; their country to be called West Papua; promulgated their Morning Star national flag; and their national anthem ‘Hai Tanahku Papua’.

On 1 December 1961, The Netherlands recognised West Papua’s planned independence raising the Morning Star flag alongside The Netherlands flag. It was witnessed by dignitaries from around the world. West Papuans also accompanied representatives of The Netherlands to the UN General Assembly and participated in regional bodies in preparation for independence.

Australia too, having administration over the territory in the eastern side of the Papua island, was coordinating administration with The Netherlands so that the people could have the opportunity to unite as one nation.

On 1 October 1962 however, this Non-Self-Governing Territory was illegally transferred to the United Nations following covert intervention by the US government.  The United Nations then transferred administration to Indonesia on 1 May 1963, again in breach of international law (see Journal Articles).

In 1969 a fraudulent ‘act of free choice’ was conducted by Indonesia, hand-picking 1,026 Papuans out of a population estimated at close to one million people. That represents approximately 0.1% of the Papuan population. This hand-picked group ‘voted’ unanimously to be taken over by Indonesia simply by raising their hands in the face of the Indonesian military.

The United Nations Secretariat failed its duty to assist, failed to apply international standards of ‘one person, one vote’ and manipulated UN proceedings in the General Assembly in breach of international law. The Secretary-General’s report on West Papua was only ‘noted’ by the General Assembly in resolution 2504. A UN resolution recognising West Papua’s transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia has never been drafted let alone ‘approved’ by the UN General Assembly.

Since then a World Bank sponsored trans-migration programme has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Javanese Muslims occupying the most fertile lands in Papua and marginalising the indigenous people while Western mining companies backed by Indonesia’s ruthless military have removed Papuans from their lands in order to exploit the Territory’s rich resources.

Papua contains the world’s largest gold deposit. Discovered in 1936, it was kept concealed until the ruthless Suharto Dictatorship came to power in 1966 with US covert support. ¬†Suharto granted the mining rights to a Rockefeller controlled company, Pt Freeport McMoran, which continues to operate against the wishes of the indigenous people to this day. Thousands of Papuans have been killed or displaced in order to facilitate operations while the rivers and natural resources have been destroyed.

The case of West Papua is a crime against humanity that, like East Timor, requires international intervention.

Free Papua Movement is an Australian registered not-for-profit organisation focused on:

  • seeking international mediation;
  • seeking UN Member support;
  • campaigning for UN peacekeepers to protect the population; and,
  • investigating legal avenues for redress.