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West Papua: Indonesian terror attacks force 1,000 people to flee

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More than 1,000 West Papuan civilian refugees have fled from the Intan Jaya region to the forest since 15 February 2021, escaping from the Indonesian military and terrorist police brutality. The Indonesian state has stepped up its terror campaign against West Papuans in Intan Jaya as it seeks to hand over control of the resource rich territory to mining multinationals. West Papua, on the island of New Guinea, has resisted incorporation into Indonesia since the signing of the New York Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia in 1962. The resistance has grown to become a popular anti-colonial movement, combining mass mobilisations with guerrilla struggle for independence and liberation.

The head of Indonesia’s Papua regional police, Paulus Waterpauw, and Army General Ignatius Yogo Triyono have inflicted violence in order to climb the promotion ladder and rise in the hierarchy of Indonesian national security. The most recent round of violence masterminded by these two include the cold-blooded murders of three innocent high-school students; the arrest of 13 activists from the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) – a group campaigning for West Papua’s right to self-determination –  including the West Papua National Parliament (PNPB) secretary of the Intan Jaya region; the torturing of Papuan students in Nabire; the killing of an indigenous Pastor of a Catholic Church and murder of a vicar, Jeremiah Zanambani.

In the face of this increasing violence, approximately 1,000 West Papuan civilians from four villages in the Sugapa District in the Intan Jaya region took refuge in the Pastoral Complex of Saint Mikael Bilogai Catholic Church in mid-February, before fleeing to the forests. Since 1963, when the illegal colonial occupation of West Papua by Indonesia began, West Papuans have been targeted by the military police. Over 500,000 West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian terrorist occupation, backed by its imperialist allies Britain, the US and Australia.

In the fight for independence, and to free occupied West Papua from the criminal Indonesian regime, the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) freedom fighters have wide support across the territory’s villages. West Papuan freedom fighters are criminalised by the regime as being armed terror groups. As we know, the go-to label of independence struggles by oppressors is to brand them as ‘terrorist’: the people of Palestine fighting back against the illegal Israeli occupation; the Kashmiri struggle against Indian colonialism; Rojava against the fascist Turkey regime; Hawaii struggling against the illegal US occupation.

Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, has given orders to Waterpauw and Major General Yogo Triyono to slaughter the indigenous Melanasian Christian black people of West Papua. The aim is to remove them from their land to expand palm oil plantations, as well as gold and copper mining. Waterpauw signed a $100b deal with the US mining multinational Freeport McMoran. Freeport McMoran has been looting and plundering West Papua for decades, with the likes of Henry Kissinger and Godfrey Rockerfeller having sat on its board of directors. The Grasberg mine is the second biggest gold mine in the world and one of the world’s main copper mines. The Australian multinational Rio Tinto also has 40% of the shares  in these mines. The result has been mass poverty, disease and environmental destruction for the indigenous West Papuan population, who in 1971 accounted for 97% of the population of West Papua. In 2016 they made up just 48% as they have faced brutal violence and rampant repression that has seen them murdered at the hands of the Indonesian state and been forced to flee.

The Indonesian state has funnelled money into transporting military equipment, while refusing to help West Papuans with necessities such as food, health services and education. Even the international monetary assistance for Covid-19 relief has become a big business among Indonesian politician and ministers, with little to none of it being seen by the indigenous population.

Serogo Tabuni, Papua Militant International 

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