There are at least 252 Papuan ethnic groups. When West Papua was under Dutch rule, Papuans were very much the majority, when Indonesia took over the territory from the Dutch, however, this demographics has been altered due to the influx of Indonesian migrants. Of 2.4 million people in West Papua, nearly half (48 per cent) are now non-Papuans.32

Influx of Indonesian migrants
There are at least 252 Papuan ethnic groups. When West Papua was
under Dutch rule, Papuans were very much the majority, when
Indonesia took over the territory from the Dutch, however, this
demographics has been altered due to the influx of Indonesian
migrants. Of 2.4 million people in West Papua, nearly half (48 per
cent) are now non-Papuans.32
Some migrants were brought in by the Indonesian government
under the programme of transmigration (internal migration, for
example of poor people from the populous island of Java to other,
less populated parts of the Indonesian archipelago). Between 1964
and 1999 the government settled nearly 550,000 of these migrants in
West Papua.33 They occupy 216 settlements or villages built by the
government. They have easy access to the towns because the
government has built roads linking their villages with the nearest
town. Slowly but surely these transmigration sites have developed
into towns in their own right, with ballooning populations.
Meanwhile, spontaneous migrants – those who come not as part of
government programmes but in order to seek opportunities for work
or business – have been settling in all West Papua’s major towns.
In 1980, 30 per cent of the population in nine towns were
Indonesians who were not born in West Papua. In 1987, the total
number of such Indonesians in the towns had increased, reaching 65
per cent while Papuans represented only 35 per cent. The proportion
of migrants in towns is still increasing, for thousands of migrants
come to West Papua’s towns every year. Consequently, the Papuans
are more ‘absent’ than ever in the towns.
The migrants have been playing a dominant role in society. They
excel in trade, services, construction and contracting in all major
towns. Until 2001, when there was a change in government policy,
government offices were largely occupied by the migrants, their
descendants and relatives. Papuans had great difficulty finding jobs
in migrant-dominated government offices, while the migrants
obviously did not.
The migrants have also been reaping the benefit of government
development activities, which have been concentrated in West
Papua’s towns. The majority of Papuans, who live in isolated and
remote villages, have received no benefit from these development
programmes. So the Papuans are marginalised in the towns and
ignored in the remote villages.
In the future, many more migrants will come to West Papua due
to the proposed reorganisation of the way the territory is

administered and natural resource developments such as the massive
liquefied natural gas exploitation being led by British Petroleum (BP).
All these will create many new jobs and require qualified and skilled
people. Papuans cannot fill all or even many of the jobs. BP will
inevitably hire more migrants than Papuans to run their operations.
If the trend of the influx of Indonesian migrants continues, then
within a few years the Papuans, who are already a tiny minority in
Indonesia, will be a minority in their own land of West Papua.
Unless all these issues are addressed, Papuans face the very real
threat of the continued dilution, if not indeed the extinction, of
their identity as an ethnic group.

3: Indonesian policies towards West Papua
Since the beginning of its occupation of the territory, Indonesia has
believed that its mission in West Papua is to ‘civilise’ the Papuan
people. The Indonesian government is committed to modernising
society and including the Papuans in a common Indonesian culture
by introducing them to the mainstream of Indonesian life and
However, despite this apparently clear mission, the government
has not followed a consistent policy towards West Papua. Rather, it
has adopted a range of strategies, some of them running parallel to –
or even in conflict with – other strategies.
For more than 30 years from its first occupation of the territory,
Indonesian policy was largely based on military operations designed
to eradicate Papuan separatism. This approach has, however, been
unsuccessful. Instead, the military operations have brought about
crimes against humanity and strengthened the Papuan people’s
demand for political independence.
Indonesia’s fourth president, Abdurrahman Wahid, introduced a
different policy in 1999 with the offer of the status of special
autonomy. In 2001, his successor, president Megawati Soekarno Putri,
approved law number 21/2001 on West Papua’s special autonomy.
The law allows West Papua to:
• express Papuan cultural identity through the Papuan flag and
• establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for historical
rectification of the history of West Papua and a representative
office of the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights
• assume all governmental powers except international relations,
defence, monetary policy and the supreme court
• receive 80 per cent of revenues from forestry, fisheries, and
mining, and 70 per cent of revenues from oil and gas exploration
• set up a Papuan People’s Assembly as an ‘upper house’ of
indigenous people representing ethnic groups, religions, and
However, the Megawati government failed to implement the law by
deliberately putting off issuing a government regulation to establish
the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Assembly). Having come
to the view that the special autonomy law would simply strengthen
the separatist movement and even accelerate the creation of an

independent state of West Papua, the Megawati government
proposed instead through presidential instruction number 1/2003 to
divide West Papua into three provinces. This controversial policy,
which violates the terms of the special autonomy law, is considered
by many to be a divide-and-conquer attempt to destroy Papuan
cultural unity. Therefore, the policy has been strongly opposed by
the Papuans and some Indonesian politicians.
The sixth Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who
was elected in October 2004, has indicated that he is committed to
implementing the special autonomy law for West Papua. In
December 2004 he produced government regulation number 54/2004
on the establishment of the Papuan People’s Assembly (although
simply as a consultative, not a decision-making, body). However, he
has not yet given a clear indication of how he intends to settle the
controversial government policy of the establishment of new
provinces, which flies in the face of the special autonomy law. To
date, the status of special autonomy for West Papua has been an
empty promise and its law has been a useless piece of paper.
It seems that Jakarta still has no clear concept of how to address
the problems in West Papua. Furthermore, the government lacks
clear policies and credible processes for addressing such problems as
crimes against humanity, the controversial 1969 Act of Free Choice,
and the neglect of the socio-economic and cultural rights of the
Papuans. Successive Indonesian governments have been using a ‘trial
and error’ approach to handling West Papua; and instead of listening
to the people’s aspirations, have shown a determination to impose
their own will upon the Papuans.
Systematic campaign to destabilise West Papua
Since the special autonomy law was first passed, it seems that Jakarta
has been carrying out a systematic campaign to destabilise West
Papua. Documents leaked to human rights activists in Jayapura reveal
that in June 2000 senior Indonesian government and military leaders
met to discuss plans to oppose and defuse the Papuan people’s call
for a genuine dialogue to settle injustices in West Papua.34 The plans
involve eradicating the Papuan separatist movement, establishing
militia groups, and improving the social welfare of the Papuan
A list of the Papuan figures considered to be a threat to the

government due to their stance was included in the document. Theys
Hiyo Eluay, a moderate Papuan leader who had been advocating
dialogue for a peaceful settlement of the injustices in West Papua,
was one among the Papuans whose names appeared in the
document. He was killed in November 2001 by the Indonesian
army’s notorious special force, Kopassus. Although the soldiers who
killed Theys Eluay have been tried and convicted, they received
lenient sentences (a maximum of three and a half years in prison),
and were subsequently lauded as national heroes by a senior
Indonesian army officer.35
Since 2000, the Indonesian military has been establishing local
militias among native Papuans to carry out some of the military’s
‘dirty work’ and to create a climate of increased instability and
violence. In 2003, Timbul Silaen, East Timor’s police chief in 1999,
was appointed police chief of West Papua, while Eurico Guterres, the
notorious East Timor militia leader, visited West Papua to establish
the Front Pembela Merah Putih (Red and White Defenders’ Front).
Both men were notorious for their links to crimes against humanity
committed in East Timor before and after the 1999 popular
consultation that led to East Timorese independence. Some
commentators consider their involvement in West Papua to be a
signal that the army is dictating Indonesian policy on West Papua
and attempting to consolidate its own dominant position.
The systematic campaign of destabilisation has resulted in a
continued threat to the human security of the Papuan people. As in
the past, it is the Papuans who are always suspected, arrested,
tortured, killed and oppressed by the Indonesian security forces. They
find no credible guarantee for their human security under
Indonesian rule. They feel they can easily be killed any time and
anywhere. Consequently, they have been living in fear without
freedom and liberty.
A further consequence of the climate of instability is the impact
on the local government’s ability to promote development in West
Papua. Local government is kept busy dealing with the consequences
of the controversial policies produced by central government, while
security problems are such a regular occurrence that local
government has almost no chance to think of development.

4: International policy on West Papua
Although Indonesia’s desire to hold on to West Papua is partly
motivated by its self-appointed mission to ‘civilise’ the indigenous
Papuans, the determining factor remains the wealth of natural
resources that the territory puts at Indonesia’s disposal. These
resources are of great value to the Indonesian state, which has
granted concessions to Indonesian and foreign companies – often in
disregard of the customary rights of indigenous Papuans. In return
the state reaps considerable dividends in the form of taxes and
royalties. The financial contribution of West Papua’s timber
industries to Jakarta, for example, has been approximately US$100
million a year.
Many timber industries in West Papua are dominated by military
and political elites from the era of the former president Suharto.
Indonesian security forces also have a financial interest in resource
extraction in West Papua, through direct involvement in logging and
other activities and protection fees paid by resource companies. All of
these beneficiaries are non-Papuans. Alongside the substantial tax
and royalties accrued by the state, these interests are a powerful
reason for the Indonesian state and its elites to keep control of West
The other major resource industry is mining. The Freeport copper
and gold mine in West Papua has long been one of the most
controversial natural resource projects in Indonesia. It is operated by
Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US company Freeport McMoran
which signed a production contract with Indonesia in 1967, two
years before the establishment of Indonesian sovereignty over
Papua ad west papua
In 1988 the Grasberg mountain, next to the existing mine, was
found to contain huge mineral deposits. Grasberg transformed
Freeport into one of the biggest producers of copper and gold in the
world and increased West Papua’s importance to Indonesia. During
the period 1991-2001, the American-owned company paid an average
of US$180 million in taxes and revenues to the Indonesian state each
year, making it Indonesia’s single largest taxpayer.38 It has also, over
the years, paid tens of millions of dollars to the Indonesian military
for security protection.39 The company has rights to explore some 2.3
million acres of land outside its current area of operations, which it
hopes could contain more mineral deposits, and it has been looking

at mining options in other areas of West Papua.
Freeport McMoran has long been well connected within the US
political establishment: its board members include Henry Kissinger
and J Stapleton Roy, a former US ambassador to Indonesia (from
1995-1999). The desire to protect the Freeport mine continues to
shape US policy towards West Papua.
A major new investment is the Tangguh project that will exploit
liquefied natural gas reserves in West Papua. The major stakeholder
in the project is British Petroleum (BP) alongside a number of
Chinese and Japanese companies. BP is developing the project under
a production-sharing contract with Indonesia’s state-owned oil
company Pertamina. The project will take up about 3,000 hectares of
land. BP plans to invest US$2 billion, which could create revenues of
US$32 billion between 2006, when exports are due to begin, and
2030. It is estimated that the Indonesian government will earn nearly
US$9 billion from the project during this period, of which some
US$3.6 billion will go to West Papua.40 The desire to protect the
Tangguh project will shape the policies on West Papua of the UK,
China and Japan.
It is obvious that powerful states and the Indonesian government
share the same interest, which is the economic benefit of exploiting
West Papua’s natural resources. A major concern of these countries is
to protect their investment and cement their relationship with
Indonesia, which with a population of 220 million also offers a huge
potential market. Having deliberately ignored the fraudulent nature
of the so-called Act of Free Choice in order to build a long term
relationship with Indonesia, it is unlikely that these powerful states
will sacrifice their economic interests for the sake of the Papuan
people’s human security. In general this is considered to be an
internal matter for Indonesia rather than an issue for the
international community to address.
For the international community as much as for Indonesia, the
offer of special autonomy is a convenient response to the Papuans’
demand for independence. According to the American think-tank the
Council on Foreign Relations, special autonomy is a win-win
solution: it keeps West Papua within Indonesia while advancing the
needs of Papuans.41 The Pacific Islands Forum – the forum of all
Pacific countries including Australia and New Zealand – supports
special autonomy,42 while the European Union is committed to

giving financial and technical assistance for the implementation of
the special autonomy law.43
It is clear that keeping West Papua within the Republic of
Indonesia, despite the threat under Indonesian rule to the culture
and survival of indigenous Papuans, remains a common policy
among the world’s most powerful states, precisely because it does not
disturb their economic interests in Indonesia and West Papua.

5: Peace-building initiatives in West Papua
The fall of Suharto’s regime in 1998 changed the political atmosphere
in Indonesia. There was more room for democracy. The Papuans used
this newly-born democratic atmosphere to change their method of
resistance. They put aside armed struggle and took up peaceful
demands for independence, mostly through peaceful demonstrations
held in all West Papua’s major towns with the participation of
thousands of Papuans. The resistance was no longer the activity of a
few Papuans in the jungle, but a peaceful resistance of all Papuans.
In February 1999, 100 leading Papuans met with the Indonesian
president B J Habibie and all the ministers in the state palace in
Jakarta. They expressed their aspiration of establishing an
independent state of West Papua. Their call for independence was
rejected, as previously expected, but the Papuans were so excited for
it was the first time in the history of West Papua that they could
express their aspiration openly and honestly to the Indonesian
In February 2000, the Papuans held a grand convention in
Jayapura, attended by hundreds of participants from all West Papua’s
regencies. They reiterated their rejection of the fraudulent Act of Free
Choice in 1969, which they began to call the Act of No Choice.
The Papuans’ commitment to a peaceful struggle for independence
was strengthened in a Papuan Congress held in Jayapura in June
2000. It was attended by some 5,000 Papuans from within West
Papua as well as from exile communities overseas. At this Congress,
the Papuans declared their aspiration for independence and their
commitment to peaceful methods such as dialogue and negotiation
among all concerned parties, including the Indonesian government.
An all-inclusive organisation called the Presidium Dewan Papua
(Papuan Presidium Council) was established to lead this peaceful
struggle and to represent the Papuans in dialogue and negotiations
for independence. They highlighted three problems that should be
settled through dialogue: the neglect of socio-economic and cultural
rights, the violations of civil and political rights since 1963, and the
denial of the right to self-determination in 1969.
Papuan leaders have called on the UN, the US, the Dutch and
Indonesia to review their respective conducts before, during, and
after the exercise of the shameful Act of No Choice in 1969.
However, although the Dutch are sponsoring research into the

historical events of the 1960s, the call to the international
community on this matter has so far fallen on deaf ears. The
Republic of Vanuatu has been the only country in the world that has
continuously reminded the UN of its contribution to the denial of
the Papuans’ right to self-determination in 1969, and its
responsibility for helping to address this injustice.
Meanwhile, despite Jakarta’s systematic campaign to destabilise the
territory, Papuan leaders have repeatedly called upon the Indonesian
government to engage in a genuine dialogue, with the mediation of a
third party. The Papuan Presidium Council has even submitted to the
government its draft of the terms of reference of the proposed
dialogue. The West Papuan provincial government and parliament,
religious leaders, non-governmental organisations, other elements of
civil society, and even the OPM have fully supported the call for an
all-inclusive dialogue. The international community has also
welcomed the call for dialogue. The EU – while explicitly not
supporting calls for independence for West Papua – has called for the
Indonesian government ‘to engage in a genuine dialogue with the
provinces in order to tackle the root causes of separatism’.44 The
government of New Zealand has even offered itself to be mediator of
a peaceful dialogue between the Indonesian government and the
Papuans. However, the Indonesian government has so far not
responded to offers of mediation or shown any willingness to engage
in freedom west papua.
Despite the suffering they have endured for more than 40 years –
and despite the lack of encouragement from the Indonesian
authorities – indigenous Papuans are committed to working for
lasting peace. In June 1999, Papuan students at meetings held in
Yapen Waropen district came up with the idea of creating a ‘Zone of
Peace’. In December 2002, Tom Beanal, the deputy chair of the
Papuan Presidium Council and the tribal chief of the Amungme
tribe, declared West Papua as a Zone of Peace. West Papua, stated the
Papuan tribal chiefs’ council, should be ‘a territory which is free from
violence, oppression and grief’.45 This declaration expresses the desire
of Papuans to live with dignity on their own land, where they will
no longer be treated as separatists, but as human beings.
The declaration is based on the belief that peace is fundamentally
important not only for the Papuans and non-Papuans living in West
Papua, and for development activities, but also for the domestic and

foreign investors that have been and will be exploiting natural
resources in West Papua.
The declaration commits Papuans to respect all migrants and
minority groups in West Papua, but it rejects the presence of East
Timor-style militia groups (like those set up by Eurico Guterres) and
demands that Indonesia withdraw thousands of its combat troops,
including the army’s notorious special forces (Kopassus). Predictably,
it has received a cool response from the Indonesian authorities,
particularly the security forces which believe that the declaration is
motivated by separatism. Indeed, the military considers that a ‘zone
of peace’ can only be created by military action to eradicate
Church leaders have responded to the misinterpretation of the
concept of a ‘zone of peace’ by declaring West Papua to be a Land of
Peace. An Ecumenical Council of Christian Churches has been
established to work for justice, peace, and human rights. In
November 2004, the churches issued a joint appeal condemning
injustice and oppression, emphasising the necessity of dialogue as
the way to solve problems, and demanding that the Indonesian
government address unresolved allegations of human rights
Faith groups have for several years played a leading role in peace
building in West Papua. The majority of indigenous Papuans are
Christians, while the majority of Indonesian migrants follow Islam,
Hindhuism, or Buddhism. Interfaith collaboration was manifested in
2001, for example, through a call for cessation of violence (in June
2001) and a joint letter to the Indonesian president calling for a
national team of inquiry to probe the involvement of the Indonesian
military in violating human rights (in December 2001). On 21
September 2002 – the United Nations’ International Day of Peace –
thousands of people, led by Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindhu
and Buddhist leaders, gathered in Jayapura to pray for peace. The
religious leaders subsequently identified 5 February as Papuan Day of
Peace, and have been celebrating this date each year through various
activities such as marches for peace, seminars and discussions on
peace building.
This interfaith collaboration helps to break down religiously
motivated suspicion in Papuan society. It plays an important role in
promoting community-based reconciliation, which is also supported

by around 140 local non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
working in areas such as socio-economic development, education,
environment, and health care.
The most prominent role of local NGOs is in addressing state
violence. They are involved in conflict mapping, monitoring and
investigation, litigation and legal advocacy, campaigning, workshops
and conferences, training and human rights education. They also
address the causes and impact of structural violence, address issues of
inter-ethnic and interfaith harmony and tolerance, and encourage
the Papuans to adopt non-violent strategies.46

There are three fundamental problems that should be addressed
peacefully: the denial of the right to self-determination in 1969 by
Indonesia with the support of the international community, crimes
against humanity committed from 1963 until today, and the neglect
of socio-economic and cultural rights. Papuans continue to face
marginalisation in their own land. Some would say they are facing
the threat of extinction.
Addressing these problems is not solely an internal matter for
Indonesia. The international community through the UN has already
been part of the problem. The UN, the US, the Netherlands and other
countries have colluded with the Indonesian government in the
annexation of West Papua through the so-called Act of Free Choice
in 1969. They now have a moral responsibility to promote peaceful
and democratic approaches to settling the injustices in West Papua. It
is morally unacceptable if the Netherlands, the US and other
powerful states continue to sacrifice the very survival of the Papuans
for the sake of their own political and economic interests.
In order to address peacefully the injustices in West Papua:
• The Indonesian government should be encouraged to involve
indigenous Papuans in seeking just and peaceful solutions through
an all-inclusive dialogue. All stakeholders representing the
Indonesian government and the Papuans should participate in this
dialogue. Such a dialogue would be a peaceful means for the
Indonesian authorities and the Papuans to reach a common
understanding on the problems that have to be addressed, and a
common agreement on the role of each stakeholder. The
government could invite a third party to be the facilitator of the
• Alleged crimes against humanity should be investigated and
addressed. The government should be encouraged to invite the UN
special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions and the special rapporteur on torture to visit West
• The Indonesian government should be encouraged to declare West
Papua as a land of peace. As part of this commitment it should
withdraw all combat troops, disband all militia groups, and halt
the Indonesian military’s involvement in commercial activities
(legal and illegal) in the territory.

• The Indonesian government should be encouraged to implement
without any delay law number 21/2001 on special autonomy for
West Papua for it addresses the neglect and marginalisation of the
socio-economic and cultural rights of the Papuans.
• The UN, the US, the Dutch, and the Indonesian government
should be encouraged to review and tell the truth about their
respective conduct in the run-up to, during, and after the exercise
of the Act of No Choice in West Papua in 1969.

A note on terminology
From 1969 to 2001, the western half of the island of New Guinea was
called Irian Jaya by the Indonesian government. Papuans and their
supporters often call it West Papua or simply Papua.
In 2001, following the passage of the law on special autonomy for
the territory, the province of Irian Jaya was renamed the province of
Papua. In 2003, the Indonesian government proposed to divide this
province into three. As the first step in this process, a new province,
covering the western tip of the territory and called West Irian Jaya,
was created in February 2003.
In 2004, an Indonesian constitutional court ruled that the split
violated the special autonomy law. However, while ruling that the
other proposed province of Central Irian Jaya should not be created,
the court recognised the existence of West Irian Jaya. At the time of
writing, the territory therefore consists of two Indonesian provinces:
Papua and West Irian Jaya.
Because the term Papua can be taken to refer to the Indonesian
province of Papua, it could be confusing to use the term Papua for the
entire territory. This Comment therefore uses the term West Papua.
 position on West Papua
 our commitment to human rights and justice compels us to
support Papuans in their struggle for justice, peace and human rights.
We recognise that the struggle for justice in West Papua is not a
struggle of the Papuan people alone. International organisations,
governments and economic interests share responsibility for the
situation in West Papua today, and should also be held accountable.
Our support for victims of injustice in West Papua is not simply
solidarity, but awareness of a shared responsibility for the conditions
that lead to injustice in West Papua. We recognise the need for action
to address these causes of injustice, bring about resolution of the
political conflict over Papuan sovereignty, and lay the foundations
for a just peace.
We recognise that:
• Papuans will not feel justice has been served until they are given
an opportunity for self-determination.
• A political solution to the dispute over Papuan sovereignty alone
will not bring justice. Parallel to resolution of the political conflict,

there must be a process to establish broad-based justice and create
sustainable conditions for sustainable peace and development.
• To this end, we see the need for efforts to build the foundations of
peace, justice and development by fostering respect for human
rights and responsibilities, a democratic culture, tolerance,
pluralism, as well as good governance and citizenship.
• The process toward building the foundations of peace and justice
must dismantle the structures of injustice (including legal and
policy frameworks), restore damaged relationships and bring about
changes in the attitudes and behaviours of individuals.
• We believe the process should bring about change at all levels of
society, with particular effort to engage women and marginalised
Our goal is for the people of West Papua to enjoy justice and respect
for human rights as the foundation of sustained peace and
development. We aim to:
• promote the capacity and opportunity of civil society
organisations, in particular faith-based organisations, in West
Papua and Indonesia to advocate for justice and ensure respect for
human rights in West Papua
• generate political will among governments, regional bodies and
international organisations to encourage greater accountability for
the situation in West Papua by the Indonesian government and
other stakeholders
• encourage international accountability for the situation in West
A core principle of CIIR’s approach to advocacy is that we will never
replace our partners’ voices. We are committed to the belief that
Papuans are their own best advocates. CIIR’s role in advocacy for
peace and human rights in West Papua seeks to support partners in
promoting the effectiveness and reach of their advocacy work, and to
help amplify their voices in the North.
Injustice has been able to flourish in Papua because it has been a
little known part of the world. This Comment has been published to
help raise awareness of the situation in West Papua. See
for more information and ideas on what you can do to support the
struggle for peace with justice in West Papua.



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