The Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) is calling for Freeport McMoRan in Indonesia’s Papua province to shut down its operations and to allow its owners to face Organisasi Papua Merdeka or Free Papua Organization on the negotiation table to settle the 58 years old West Papua conflict.
Freeport Mine which is currently equally owned by Indonesia and the US mining giant Freeport McMoRan Inc. has been one of the causes of West Papua conflict since the 1960s. Freeport McMoRan Inc. and its subsidiary PT. Freeport Indonesia has been historically viewed as part of the problem in the West Papua struggle for independence.
West Papua Conflict erupted as a result of the United Nation’s failure to recognize the right to self-determination of the people of West Papua as per 14th December 1960 United Nations resolution on decolonisation of colonial people regardless of their unpreparedness. This resolution on decolonization led to the establishment of the embryo of the State of West Papua, while still under Dutch colonial rule through the New Guinea Council (New Guinea Raad) on 1st December 1961. West Papua as a political entity was formed on 1st December 1961 in which the national symbols including the Morning Star flag was first raised in Hollandia now Jayapura under the watchful eyes of the Netherlands government performing its duty according to Article 73 (e) of the UN Charter.
The first West Papuan National Assembly known as the New Guinea Raad was also established to encourage local participation and ownership of government and politics at the time. However, in 1962 the USA sponsored New York Agreement was signed between the Republic of Indonesia and the Netherlands government excluding the New Guinea Raad. West Papuans realising the game plan of the colonial powers started armed rebellion in several major centres particularly in Jayapura, Biak and Manokwari in 1963 to fight against both the Netherlands and Indonesian troops occupied in their areas.
The fight continue to build up momentum up to 1965 when Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) or Free Papua Movement was formed to launch a full scale armed conflict in West Papua. In 1965 the name Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) was formally named in Manokwari, its leaders were the former Dutch New Guinea police and military officers who were at the time preparing to serve in the new nation the Republic of West Papua as well as the newly established New Guinea Raad National Assembly.
They pulled out of colonial government and set up pace to proclaim full Independence for the Republic of West Papua which they eventually declared ten years later on 1st July 1971 in West Papua. The declaration of independence was however not recognized by the United Nations or its member nations at the time due to the intervention made by the United States at the time.
The fundamental basis of West Papua Conflict
Until now West Papua still remains as a nation hidden under pack of lies and intimidation occupied Indonesia and legitimised by the United Nations systems including the very doctrine of democracy that failed the people of West Papua in 1969 during the so called ‘Act of free choice.’ The feeling of denial of justice and suppression of basic human rights during the time was the basis of West Papua conflict.
The basis of argument for West Papua independence was that;
“All people have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.
The fact that the western part of the island of New Guinea was brought under the central administration of the former Netherlands Indies Government can hardly be adduced in evidence that the Papuan inhabitants of the western half of the island have consequently become Indonesians.
The people of West Papua has therefore a right to the continuation of its development to self-government, whereas the Netherlands as a member of the United Nations Organisation is, on the one hand, bound to promote this development to the best of its ability pursuant to Article 73e of the U.N. Charter, and, on the other hand, has a right to the support of the United Nations
Organisation in fulfilling this obligation. This obligation was denied due to cold war bipolar ideological divide at the time which the United States of America forced the Netherlands to abandon through the New York Agreement of 15th August 1962.
The Indonesian claim that the right to self-determination of the people of West Papua was brought into effect by the Proclamation of the Indonesian Republic on August 17, 1945, is rejected. Firstly, the people of West Papua were not represented at the issuance of the proclamation; secondly, the proclamation took place during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia at a time when New Guinea had already been liberated by the Allies.
It is not the real or fictitious unity of a people, but the voluntary combination of all component parts, on which a modern state should be based. And it is in this special sense that the Council wants to consider the right to self-determination of the people of West Papua at the time. Whether or not West Papua by virtue of the right to self-determination will enter into a voluntary association of interests with another country, and if so, with what country, will have to be decided in due course by the West Papuan people itself. The essential point at present is that the right to decide on the matter in freedom be given to West Papuans which was not given at the time.
Current armed conflict
Since December 2018 West Papuans have been going through great difficulties as a result of natural disaster, armed conflict, racial abuse and other institutional and systematic injustice daily just because they only demand what they rightfully deserve as human family that want to have their own country.
West Papua is at the moment going through humanitarian crisis due to armed conflict coincide with racial abuse and internet shut down. The conflict has intensified as of 2nd December 2018 killing of 17 Indonesian soldiers working on road construction in Nduga regency by the West Papua National Liberation Army. Since then a total of 47 to 50 thousand Papuans were internally displaced and 243 civilians have died as a result of the conflict in Nduga alone since 2018 (see report attached).
The attack in Timika is putting the operations of the mine and the lives of its work force at risk including the surrounding local communities. More than 1000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict since 3rd March 2020 in Tembagapura district of Timika West Papua. The West Papua National Liberation Army will continue attacking the mine’s operation if there is still no intervention from the international community.
Indonesian government has been reluctant to negotiate for peace with the West Papua National Liberation Army for years. International community’s intervention is a must because of the fact that by definition peace and security of the region is being disturbed.
Already 200 refugees from West Papua have crossed over into Papua New Guinea and are now given temporary place to settle in Western province we expect that more are coming.
What Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) wants
The OPM wants a peaceful solution to the conflict but Indonesia continue to ignore the calls made for peaceful negotiations since the beginning of the conflict. Indonesia instead of addressing the main issue of the West Papuan conflict is ignorantly preaching about economic development to Papuan region without actually implementing it on the ground which is just only adding fuel to the fire that is already alight over the years.
If Indonesia really wants peace in West Papua and Indonesia in general it has to come to terms with West Papuans’ demands through peaceful negotiate mediated by an international third party and not fake dialogue based local groups that do not know equality, fairness and justice that they preach often without practice.
The OPM has clearly stated that;
West Papua conflict is the unfinished business of decolonization of the 1960s.The United Nations, Indonesia, United States of America and the Netherlands should rethink and undo the historical wrongs committed by them against the people of West Papua by putting things right as per the UN resolution 1514 and subsequent resolutions.
Since United Nations has been part of the problem from the beginning of the conflict it should use the good offices of the United Nations Secretary-General to address the conflict given the urgency of the situation that is that atrocity crimes are occurring and is likely to continue occur in West Papua into the future if not acted upon.
The OPM has also called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council and other relevant Human Rights mechanisms to put pressure on the Indonesian Government and its security forces to respect the basic rights of West Papuans and to allow an independent investigation team into West Papua without restrictions.
The OPM is calling upon the management of Freeport McMoRan Inc. to stop operations on PT. Freeport Indonesia in Timika and shut down the mine immediately. Papuans knew that Freeport is also the cause of West Papua problem and West Papua National Liberation Army will not back down until the mine is forced to shut its operations completely.
The OPM is also appealing for support from the international community for support and to urge Indonesian government to do what is right to address the root causes of the West Papua conflict.