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Australian author leads silent protest over 'blood debt' owed to Papuans

Asia Pacific Report - April 21, 2024

An Australian author and advocate, Jim Aubrey, today led a national symbolic one minute's silence to mark the "blood debt" owed to Papuan allies during the Second World War indigenous resistance against the invading Japanese forces.

"A promise to most people is a promise," Aubrey said in his open letter marking the debt protest – "unless that promise is made by the Australian government."

After the successes of Australian and US troops against the Japanese in New Guinea, the Allies continued the advance through what was then Dutch New Guinea then on to the Philippines.

The first landing was at Hollandia (now Jayapura) in April 1944, which involved the Australian navy and air force.

Aubrey said in his letter:

"The Australian government's WWII remembrance oath to Papuan and Timorese allies by the RAAF in flyers dropped over East Timor and the island of New Guinea – 'FRIENDS, WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU!' – is in reality one of history's most heinous bastard acts in war and diplomacy.

"Betrayal is the reality of this blood debt and includes consecutive Australian governments' treachery and culpability as a criminal accomplice and accessory to six decades of the Indonesian government's crimes against humanity.

"Barbarity that shames us! Genocide, ethnocide, infanticide, and relentless ethnic cleansing.

Aubrey, spokesperson for Genocide Rebellion and the Free West Papua International Coalition, said that he and supporters were commemorating the Second World War "Papuan sacrifice for us" – Australian and American servicemen and women – four days before ANZAC Day without inviting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese or any government minister [and] without inviting US President Biden.

"To have them with us on this special solemn occasion, while honouring the fact that many of us – children and grandchildren – would not be here if it were not for Papuan courage, loyalty, and sacrifice so steadfastly given to our forebears, would be dishonourable.

'Heartless complicity'

"We condemn outright their heartless complicity and premeditated exploitation of Papuans in their time of peril. A blood debt not honoured by a single Australian government or US administration!

"Lest We Forget... six decades of providing the Republic of Indonesia with an environment of impunity for crimes against humanity – 500,000 victims in Western New Guinea, 250,000 in East Timor [now Timor-Leste after the 1999 liberation].

"Future historians will teach their undergraduates that Australian governments did forget! That Australian governments also contravened Commonwealth and State criminal codes by helping the Indonesian government prevent the legal decolonisation of Western New Guinea and achieve their subsequent unlawful annexation; and by concealing and destroying evidence of the 1998 Biak Island Massacre.

"It is not only a matter of honour and truth, it's personal. I have only just discovered that my father and my uncle were Australian servicemen in the Pacific Theatre campaigns across New Guinea.

"Honourable Australians and Americans, however, only need to know our duty of care and our international obligations cannot be compromised for political and economic plunder. The victims of crimes against humanity deserve the support and the protection they are by law, by right, and decency entitled to.

"Pacific Island nations look to the East for a relationship of integrity in their international affairs. Who can blame them with Australian governments track record of treachery, dishonour, and their demeaning elitism and history in the genocide of indigenous peoples."

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2024/04/21/australian-author-leads-silent-protest-over-blood-debt-owed-to-papuans