West Papua (81396-GM-R9999)
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Justice and Self-determination for West Papua (Irian Jaya)
West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. The independent nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) makes up the eastern half. The western half, known at the time as Dutch New Guinea, was a colony of The Netherlands until 1961.
In 1949, when the Dutch East Indies became Indonesia, the Dutch colonial power excluded Dutch New Guinea, as it was then called, and started to prepare it for independence by training Papuans for leadership positions within the government and civil society. The people of the area were predominately Melanesian, unlike the rest of the East Indies who were mainly Malay. Australia, at the time, supported independence for West Papua. The Papuan people, comprised of more than 200 tribes, are mainly Christian and animist, with a high percentage of the Papuan identifying as either Roman Catholic or Protestant Christians.
In 1961, The Netherlands was preparing Dutch New Guinea for independence, but Indonesia objected strongly and sent its troops into the region. The United States subsequently brokered an agreement between Indonesia and The Netherlands in 1963, called the New York Agreement, which handed Dutch New Guinea over to Indonesia for a period of six years, to be followed by an act of self-determination (“Act of Free Choice”).
In 1969, the “Act of Free Choice” was conducted under the auspices of the UN, but in reality under control of Indonesia. One thousand twenty-five Papuans handpicked by the Indonesian government from a population of 800,000 voted, under threat from Indonesian troops, to join Indonesia.
The UN sanctioned the vote and Dutch New Guinea became Irian Jaya, a province of Indonesia.
In November 2001, two senior UN officials, including the head of the UN mission to oversee the handing-over of West Papua to Indonesia, admitted that the Act of Free Choice was a sham – “a whitewash, designed to appease the Americans and the Indonesians.”
Church groups estimate that since 1961, at least 100,000 West Papuans have been killed or disappeared under the brutal Indonesian military occupation. Murder, torture, rape, summary detentions and destruction of entire villages, continues to this day.
In 2001, Chief Theys Eluay, perhaps the most important Papuan leader, was assassinated by the Indonesian military’s Special Forces in yet another attempt to destroy the Papuans’ struggle for a peaceful solution to years of intimidation, torture, and genocide.
Since 2003 the President of Indonesia has banned all journalists and international observers from going to West Papua.
In the last several years there has been increased militarization of West Papua.
Meanwhile, Freeport McMoRan mining operations, a Lousianna-based company, continues to devastate tribal lands, extracting gold from the largest deposit in the world.
After 40 years it is time for a genuine act of self-determination for West Papua.
Therefore, be it resolved that The United Methodist Church calls on the secretary-general of the United Nations to immediately institute a timeline for a review of the United Nations “Act of Free Choice”; and
Be it further resolved that The United Methodist Church, immediately following 2008 General Conference, send copies of this resolution to the secretary-general of the United Nations, the president of the UN General Assembly, the President of the United States, all U.S. senators and congressional representatives, and all appropriate ecumenical colleagues; and
Be it further resolved that The United Methodist Church urges the General Board of Global Ministries to make the issue of self-determination for West Papua a priority for social justice purposes, and to support constituency education and related projects on West Papua.
The 2004 & 2006 California-Nevada Annual Conferences passed resolutions calling for “Justice and Self-determination for West Papua”.
Researchers at Yale University Law School and the University of Sydney suggest “genocide” is happening in West Papua.
To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “The people of West Papua have been denied their basic...