Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker – The democratic world of the G7 to China all view Indonesia in the prism of geopolitics. Accordingly, the indigenous West Papuans face endless Javanese colonialism at the hands of Indonesia.
The recent visit of Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary of the United States, sums up the international non-concern about events in West Papua. Hence, Austin encourages the modernization of the armed forces of Indonesia despite mass violations in West Papua over many decades.
Ironically, the administration of President Joe Biden utilized the Black Lives Matter issue internally aimed at the Republicans. However, the same Biden administration – similar to other past American administrations irrespective of the Democratic Party or Republican Party – ignores the continuing colonialism of West Papua by the government of Indonesia and endemic racism aimed at Papuans by the Javanese.
Accordingly, the United States Department of Defense ignored the issue of West Papua when formulating a joint statement by America and Indonesia.
The United States Department of Defense website reports (August 24, 2023): "Today, Secretary Austin and Minister Prabowo reaffirmed the strength of the defense pillar of our enduring Strategic Partnership. Together, they resolved to preserve international laws and norms, enhance our mutual security and defense capabilities, and remain guided by our shared democratic principles. They shared their determination to further strengthen our relationship, ensuring that it is robust and capable of seizing future opportunities and tackling emerging challenges in an increasingly complex geopolitical climate."
West Papuans will be shocked by the resolve to "preserve international laws and norms" concerning America and Indonesia. After all, what "norms" exist concerning the systematic colonialism of West Papua by Indonesia – and how do extrajudicial killings become "international laws?"
UN News reports, "Between April and November 2021, we have received allegations indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including of young children, enforced disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment and the forced displacement of at least 5,000 indigenous Papuans by security forces."
The Joint Statement by America and Indonesia said: "...Secretary Austin and Minister Prabowo reaffirmed the importance of Indonesia's military modernization and discussed both countries' mutual intention to deepen interoperability through defense capabilities like fighter aircraft upgrades, new multi-role fighter aircraft, and additional fixed and rotary wing transport aircraft."
Last year, America and France announced significant military contracts with Indonesia. America said, "The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Indonesia of F-15ID Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $13.9 billion."
The main trading partners of Indonesia include China, America, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. However, they care little about human rights in West Papua. Hence, media silence is desired internally in these countries to enable the endless oppression of the Papuans at the hands of Indonesia with the minimum of fuss.
A recent documentary called "Paradise Bombed" by Kristo Langker highlights the brutal reality of the ongoing crisis in West Papua. The documentary focuses on several villages bombed by Indonesia – and how food insecurity and brutal conditions are an endless tool by Indonesia to crush the spirit of the Papuans.
The Guardian says, "Indonesia has controlled West Papua since invading in 1963 and formalizing its annexation through the controversial, UN approved, 'Act of Free Choice'. Security forces are accused of severe human rights violations during the occupation with an estimated 500,000 Papuans killed."
The International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) reports: "Over 500,000 civilians have been killed in a genocide against the indigenous population. Thousands more have been raped, tortured, imprisoned or 'disappeared' after being detained. Basic human rights such as freedom of speech are denied and Papuans live in a constant state of fear and intimidation."
President Benny Wenda of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) said: "We are murdered, tortured, and raped, and then our land is stolen for resource extraction and corporate profit when we flee."
Papuan civilization, culture, ethnicity, history, and religion have nothing in common with the colonial occupiers of Indonesia. Hence, the rights of West Papua need to be addressed regionally and internationally – if not, another indigenous community will be crushed to the point of no return.
Regional support for West Papua from Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and others must emerge to challenge the colonialization of West Papua by Indonesia.
Also, important West Papuan organizations – and individuals – need to strengthen ties with New Zealand – and then collectively shame Australia, similar to events in East Timor (Timor-Leste).
Shockingly, while West Papuans suffer decade after decade – international military arms keep flowing to Indonesia. Indeed, the Biden administration wants Indonesia to militarize aimed at China.
Equally, West Papua is ignored by the same nations (America, Japan, the United Kingdom, and others) who mention "international law" and "human rights" when pointing the finger at China and other nations deemed authoritarian.
West Papua needs to be free from the colonial yoke of Indonesia.