Indonesian Military ‘Development’ Program Spreads Fear in West Papua

25 Apr

Cross post from Survival International

The military presence in West Papua is almost always accompanied by human rights violations such as killings, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture. © Survival International

The military presence in West Papua is almost always accompanied by human rights violations such as killings, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture.
© Survival International

Papuan leaders have voiced their concern at plans for more than a thousand Indonesian soldiers to build 1,500 km of new roads in the next two years to accelerate ‘development’ in West Papua.

The government claims that unrest in the region is caused by a lack of ‘development’, while Papuans blame their problems on the violation of their political and human rights. Survival International and many Papuans fear that the influx of soldiers will bring neither development nor peace to the region.

One Papuan leader, Rev Socratez Yoman, told Survival, ‘The West Papuans do not need big roads, but a better life on their own land, without intimidation, terror, abuses and killings’.

Another leader, Markus Haluk, warned that the roads would open up the forests to illegal logging, much of it likely to be at the hands of the military.

The military presence in West Papua is almost always accompanied by human rights violations such as killings, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture.

So-called ‘development’ has already inflicted enormous damage to the Papuan people. Despite the presence of the world’s biggest gold mine, West Papua remains the poorest region in Indonesia with an HIV/AIDS rate thought to be 20 times higher than the rest of the country. Many of the cases of HIV/AIDS can be traced back to the commercial sex industry, which has accompanied the arrival of migrant workers in the fishing, logging and mining industries.

Many Papuans believe that the military have a vested interest in introducing HIV/AIDS in West Papua and see it as an attempt at ethnic cleansing. In some areas the military have supplied alcohol and prostitutes to bribe tribal leaders in order to gain access to their land and its resources. The disease is devastating some tribes. Rates are especially high in areas where so-called ‘development’ has already taken place, such as close to the US- and British-owned Grasberg mine.

Survival International is calling on the government of Indonesia to end human rights violations in West Papua and to enter into meaningful talks with the Papuan people so they are able to decide their own way of life, their own development priorities and their own future.

For more information about the impact of imposing ‘development’ on tribal people see Survival’s campaign Progress Can Kill.

One Response to “Indonesian Military ‘Development’ Program Spreads Fear in West Papua”

  1. Andrew April 26, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    Is West Papua a United Nations trust territory? My conclusion is yes, but you can decide for yourselves from the documents at http://colonyWestPapua.info

    What does that mean, it means that West Papua is NOT an Indonesian territory, it means the UN Security Council can and should stop the Indonesian killings, torture, and exploitation of West Papua which is a UN trust territory. Like East Timor in the 1980s and 1990s West Papua is also a non-self-governing territory entitled to self-determination; although West Papua chose independence in October 1961 the year before UN occupation under General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII).

    Under law, as you can read in the UN Charter, once the General Assembly makes a colony a trust territory by approving a trusteeship agreement under article 85 of the Charter, the United Nations remains subject to protecting human rights of the colony under articles 76, 87, and 88 of the Charter until the colony becomes a fellow member of the UN as stated in article 78 of the Charter.

    Its a $billion secret that the UN members have been concealing ever since they found out about West Papua’s gold and copper fcx.com

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