Let the Morning Star wave!
We call for immediate release of Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma, prisoners of conscience of West Papua!
Horror and fury run through the history of 43-year Indonesian occupation of West Papua.
On December the 1st every year, we commemorate the day that West Papua proclaimed its independence from the Netherlands before it was annexed to Indonesia as its 27th province. It is also the 2nd anniversary of the arrest of Yusak and Filep who were charged for proclaiming West Papua’s right to self-determination and hoisting the Morning Star, the West Papua independence flag, in the island’s capital in 2004. They were later jailed for 15 and 10 years respectively for rebellion against Indonesia.
In 1962, Indonesia invaded West Papua while West Papua was preparing for independence from the Netherlands. The Indonesian military sought to annex the country which is one of the world’s most resourceful areas and the US intervened and engineered an agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands. The agreement in 1962 gave control of West Papua to the United Nations and one year later transferred control to Indonesia.
In 1969 a referendum was carried out, the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice,’ in which the Papuan people were given two choices; to remain part of Indonesia or to become an independent nation. In violation of the agreement but under the tacit approval of the United Nations, only 1,022 pro-Indonesian Papuans, picked by Indonesia as representatives, voted. The selected representatives were forced to make the wrong choice after a series of intimidation. Since then West Papua remains part of Indonesia.
Since the annexation in 1969, Indonesia has put West Papua under its colonial rule along with massive mobilization of its military to sustain it. It is estimated that at least 100,000 Papuans were killed while others were raped and tortured and villages were devastated by the Indonesian military. In the process, cultures, languages and communities of some 250 indigenous tribes have also perished. Massive killings and forced migration have made half of the population internally displaced. Many of the children of West Papua suffer from lack of education, malnutrition and diseases. About half of the children are now under-nourished and the infant and maternal mortalities run highest in the world.
However, Papuans have never stopped their fight for freedom even for a moment since the first day of occupation. Facing such fierce resistance, the government of Indonesia had to introduce various measures such as the enactment of Special Autonomy Law in 2001 to recognize a degree of autonomy, formation of autonomous parliament and the use of the national flag of West Papua. Nonetheless, the reality in West Papua has not changed. Papua Presidium Chairperson, Theys Eluay was assassinated by the Indonesian special force Kopassus, and many people involved in hoisting their national flag were killed and jailed. Papuan women who attended a rally calling for self-determination were raped and thrown to the sea.
There are still other atrocities being committed in West Papua that betray words.
Who gave Indonesia the right to invade West Papua? Who gave Indonesia the right to massacre Papuans? Who authorized locking up human rights and self-determination into prison?
The right to determine the way of life and destiny in West Papua lies exclusively in the Papuans. What others can do to provide freedom of Papuans is not occupation or intervention but international solidarity action to bring about self-determination of Papuans.
Papuans are struggling for their self-determination while withstanding daily oppression and the horror of death. Even today, Yusak and Filep are fighting in prison by flagging the Morning Star on the roof of their cell.
If we hesitate to take a solidarity action with Papuans, the dark days in West Papua may not vanish. Papuans are asking us now, ‘Indonesia, can you tell us any justice for West Papua?’ ‘Where is justice in this world?’
Free West Papua!
Free Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma!
Organizations supporting West Papua’s self-determination and freedom
Committee for Workers in Prison
Amnesty International, Korea Section
Korean House for International Solidarity
Sarangbang Centre for Human Rights
Research Centre for Human Rights
MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Demacratic Society
Imagination for International Solidarity
Centre for Peace Museum
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Palestine Peace Solidarity
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