As I see it: We’re just playing lip service to the situation in West Papua 6



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“In recognising the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute” – Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Justice on the Supreme Court in the United States.

In Eastern Indonesia, in the western part of the island of New Guinea, the indigenous Papuans are Melanesians, and according to Operation World, more than 90% of them are officially recognised as Christian.  

Papua has had a history of violent oppression by the Indonesian military (TNI), with demographic dilution through a government programme of massive transmigration of Javanese Muslims. Papuans, often Christian leaders, are frequently killed by the TNI, who are constantly trying to provoke retaliation that could be claimed to justify a full scale massacre against the ‘separatist threat’. The TNI terrorises Papuans from helicopters, shooting civilians, burning villages and churches, and forcing thousands to flee their homes and hide in the jungle where they die of starvation, illness or injury. The TNI’s allies, the pro-Indonesian militias and the Laskar Jihad (Islamic warriors), are armed ready for a major ethnic cleansing campaign. Papua, as part of Indonesia and the ‘dar al-Islam’ (Land of Islam), is being ‘Indonesianised’ and Islamised. The Papuans are facing genocide while those with worldly power turn away. (source; EA Foundation)

This brings me to the point I want to make. 

Arlince Tabuni, was a 12 year old Melanesian West Papuan girl, the daughter of a pastor enjoying life in her highlands village of Popume.

Suddenly, on Monday, July 1, 2013 at around 2:00pm local time, four fully armed Indonesian soldiers drive into the village with loaded guns. 

They briefly interrogate a member of her family and then demand the Pastor leaves the scene. They then proceed towards Arlince’s house. Seeing the soldiers, Arlince tries to run away. The military fire 3 shots, she is hit in the neck and chest and dies…

The locals are outraged. First off, the military deny this took place. After some time, they admitted they fired out of sheer frustration and panic!

This satisfied the Indonesian Government, no investigation is held. Bribes had allegedly taken place! They continue to turn a blind eye to the genocide that is being carried out!”

This is just one of hundreds of examples.

The people of West Papua have regularly organised mass protests for self determination and independence and continue to appeal to the international community from speaking out through media to diplomatic pleas by exiled Papuans. This continues to fall on deaf ears.

Not only has the Indonesian government banned all foreign journalists and human rights groups from West Papua but the Indonesian military and police also systematically target any West Papuans campaigning for independence and brands them as “separatists” and “terrorists”.

We run around listening to the spin about ISIS and a lot of us become fearful…How often do we think of our neighbours, right next door?

Both the Australian and New Zealand Governments, along with their Pacific neighbours, in my opinion, are just playing lip service to the situation in West Papua. We pay very little credence to what is happening and simply turn a ‘blind eye’.

It’s time to open your eyes, read and look at what is happening. Forget about sending troops to fight some bunch of ISIS scum. Our governments need to focus on our neighbours!

Even the raising of the West Papuan national flag was made illegal by Indonesia and anyone raising it in West Papua can, if they are lucky, expect 15 years in an Indonesian jail cell. Any unlucky West Papuans found supporting independence are simply killed.

Indonesia sees Papuans as nothing more than inconvenient resistance in a land bursting with money to be made.

Here’s the thing: you see, with the ‘killing of Arlince’, it’s reported that some of her killers might have been from Indonesia’s “anti terror special forces” also known as “Kopassus” or “Detachment 88?.”

These troops are funded and supplied by the Australian government. That’s right, the Australian Government! Despite international calls to cease their support, they are responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity in West Papua!

When the soldiers came to interrogate Arlinces’ relative, they asked him “where are the hordes of OPM?” (Free Papua Movement Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM). Arlinces’ relative told them that there are none and that there is an Indonesian flag in the village (which is effectively mandatory in West Papua).

The soldiers paid no attention to the man and marched directly towards Arlinces’ house. They stood at the bottom of the garden and saw the 12 year old girl who ran. They fired three times. She was shot in the neck and died. They killed her. There was no excuse! Arlince was 12.

This was no accident. There is no way the Indonesian military mistook a 12 year old girl at point blank range and directly in front of them for an armed and violent adult guerrilla fighter.

Just imagine for a moment if this happened right here in your street. A member of the Police shot and killed an innocent 12 year old girl because they believed she was part of a potential family, well known for its members supporting a local Indigenous independence movement?

It would be world news in a heartbeat. Imagine the international outcry!

So, what can you do? You can act, you can stand up and be heard. You most probably won’t!

Sadly you’ll just sit back and go “oh yeah, here we go again”.

You ask, what am I doing? Well….what I’m doing is this! I have made a stand, I have spoken out. 

Now, will you join with me and speak out?

Brian Portland

Broadcast Journalist.. Australasian Correspondent FSN Washington & London. Speech Writer..Motivational Speaker.. Production Voice Specialist.. Creative Writer.. (Speech, Print, Radio & Television) Double above knee amputee.. Motivational Speaker..(Available for any speaking engagement..)

  1. Iniquitous that world turns its back on situation in West Papua and does not interrogate corrupt cruel Indonesian govt.

    Agree too about Andre Rieu ads. For serious classical music lovers, his concerts are smaltzy and corny.

  2. We are paying for the arms the Indonesian troops use in their massacre of the natives. How supid can we get?

  3. I didn’t realise this was happening! Thank-you for bringing it to our attention. Another reason to add to the (increasingly longer) list of extreme and utter disappointments I have in Malcolm Turnbull and his cronies!! 👿 That is simply appalling. I am so, so embarrassed in our Federal Government.

  4. How blind are Australians to our neighbours? The average Australian hears little about PNG and Indonesia, except for stories re “illegal refugees”. How can we ensure we learn more – about the beauty, the people and the challenges? It’s hard to turn a blind eye when you learn just a little more about these places.

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