Tsavkko Garcia, Raphael
Publication year: 2019

West Papua is still recovering from the last wave of violence that hit the region between August and early September, leaving several dead, buildings burned, dozens of activists arrested and again showing the discontent of the local population with the Indonesian central government.

The largely Melanesian Christian population of West Papua (comprising the Indonesian administrative divisions of Papua and West Papua) differs greatly from the Muslim-majority Indonesians, yet they have been under the control of Indonesia since the 1960’s when, in 1962, the country signed a deal with The Netherlands – the New York Agreement – placing then West New Guinea, a Dutch colony, under UN Temporary Executive Authority until a referendum calling for West Papuans to vote for their independence (or to join Indonesia) could be organised.

The Act of Free Choice stated that all adult West Papuans had the right to vote and decide the destiny of their country, yet in 1967 Indonesia and the US signed a deal giving gold and copper mining company Freeport-McMoran a 30-year lease in the region. That deal sealed the fate of West Papuans who had been suffering from human rights violations since at least 1963, when it was annexed by Indonesia. Not that things could have been different, the New York Agreement was part of a US plan to steer Indonesia from the Soviet area of influence, so in a sense, the result was expected, even planned.

Full article at InsideOver’s website. Date of publication: 18/09/2019.

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