Free West Papua
Where is it, anyway?
It may come as no surprise that the BBC aren’t reporting on this; they’re too preoccupied with ‘Palestine’. But the rest of the media?
West Papua has never been given the air time it deserves, and its people have not felt the usual Western glow for oppressed people everywhere. We appear complicit in the reporting restrictions, quite content to compromise our collective conscience while the US re-negotiates a programme of military aid with Indonesia after a 10-year embargo, as if the atrocities of East Timor never happened.
Are we simply placating the Indonesian government because Indonesia happens to have the largest Muslim population on earth?
President Obama is shortly to visit Jakarta, and doubtless will go conveniently Trappist on human rights violations. To his immense credit, on the run-up to the General Election, David Cameron stated unequivocally that he empathised with the West Papuan cause. But he has been silent on the matter since taking office.
Well, Islamic imperialism, torture and brutality are not what the British public want to see, are they?
For those who do, His Grace refers his readers and communicants to the website of Free West Papua. But be warned: it is not pleasant viewing.
When the Dutch left Indonesia they maintained control of West Papua until 1962. They were subsequently forced by an aggressive Indonesia and the international community to yield to Indonesian machinations. The Dutch had been pursuing a rapid education programme which would, they hoped, lead to West Papuan independence, having accepted the results of the 1959 election.
Scarcely had a new flag been designed that Indonesia commenced military skirmishes in the region in an attempt to spread their territorial empire.
This resulted in the UN taking control of the entire region. In their infinite wisdom they gifted West Papua to Indonesia in 1963. When, six years later, Indonesia generously granted West Papua a vote on self-determination – the ‘Act of Free Choice' – the Indonesian military ensured that just over a thousand tribal leaders and elders voted the right way, invariably at gun-point, to which the UN turned a thousand blind eyes.
Thereafter, 'Irian' became irrevocably part of the Indonesian Empire.
Since then, many tens of thousands of West Papuans have died; perhaps even 100,000 (it is difficult to be accurate when the only sources are leaked speculation: the actual death toll may be far higher). As can be seen on the Free West Papua website, the Indonesian Military behave like any invading army: the flag of the Republic of West Papua is banned under Indonesian law and those found to displaying it are imprisoned and tortured.
The people of the island of Papua have one of the most diverse ranges of culture found anywhere in the world. It is gradually being subsumed to the imperialist Indonesian Islamic monolith.
And President Obama is now dedicating US forces to help train the notorious ‘special forces’ wing of the Indonesian military, a force that anywhere else in the world would be judged guilty of war crimes and 'ethnic cleansing'.
But the suffering of the Timorese and the strife of the poor Papuans are as nothing to the overriding US need for sizeable Islamic allies in the ‘war on terror’.
Some are speaking out, but nowhere near enough. The former Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Hon Lord Harries of Pentregath said: "The principles at stake with West Papua are fundamental to civilised life in the modern world. The so-called Act of Free Choice consisted of 1026 people being forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Suharto's Indonesia. The West Papuans are a people - the same people as those of Papua New Guinea on the east of the island - who obtained their independence from Britain over 35 years ago. They have no desire to be ruled from Jakarta."
But we hear nothing of this.
For the BBC and the rest of our ‘mainstream media’ do not wish us to.
The silence is puzzling, given that they usually find ingenious ways of infiltrating Zimbabwe, sneaking into Burma or planting undercover reporters in Iran.
There is an all-party parliamentary group on the matter, but not composed of the Peter Hains of this world. It appears that the Indonesian Army are just not as evil as the IDF.
But the suffering and strife of the Papuan are as great if not greater than the Palestinian.
Perhaps a juxtaposition of the condemnation of Indonesia with the promotion of the cause of Palestine would cause a little schizophrenia in the media portrayal of the politics of the religion of peace.
Come on, Prime Minister.
When you were in opposition, you took the time to consider the complex issues and even met with the political exile and leader of the Free West Papua Movement, Benny Wenda.
Your election victory was movingly greeted by the tribesmen and women of West Papua. And CCHQ must have sent them the poster, for that size was not even available in the key marginals.
This picture is a display of a people's faith in one man, a deliverer, a Moses. They look to David Cameron to liberate them from oppression, just as his predecessors have done with slave traders over the centuries. The UK may be a declining military power, and Labour undoubtedly did untold damage to our international reputation with its ‘ethical foreign policy’. But it is now for this Liberal-Conservative Coalition to restore it.
Perhaps, Prime Minister, a phone call to President Obama?
He won’t listen, of course. But it is for you to remind him of Indonesian inhumanity to West Papuan man.
And if you won’t, who will?