First Hand Witness to the West Papua Crisis
Thursday, 25 March 2010, 5:47 pm
Opinion: Scoop Coverage of West Papua
First Hand Witness to the West Papua Crisis
To Mr Della-Giacoma
I write this letter to you not as a member of any organisation, but as a fellow human being who has lived in West Papua and seen first hand the situation there.
I feel it necessary to make a response to the recent International Crisis Group report on West Papua and the follow-up article you have written. It is clear that your report is littered with half truths, lies and inaccuracies about the present and historical situation in West Papua. Unfortunately this will only damage yours and the International Crisis Group's reputation. Above all, it presents a false picture to the outside world on the reality of life in West Papua. It also places many people at risk as a result of assertions made in the report.
I will only address 3 points from your report that stood out as requiring urgent amendment by yourself, but am sure others will add. For reference I am also cc'ing the International Crisis Group head office into this email so they can take any appropriate urgent action that they feel may be needed to avert further hostilities.
OPM and Freeport shootings You state that it is 'unpleasant for some to digest that the OPM was most likely involved in the Freeport attacks'. No evidence is given to back up this claim. When one looks at all the evidence available, the balance clearly shifts to the killings being carried out by different factions of the Indonesian police and/or army. All ammunition used in the attacks was Indonesian army issued, and despite countless arrests being made of alleged 'separatist perperators' the shootings continue. At the same the Indonesian Government have used these attacks as a pretext to reinforce military numbers in West Papua. It doesn't take a genius to see what is really happening here, and I would have expected a better assessment from someone in your position who claims to be a regional expert, rather than pointing the figure at the local population without a shred of evidence to back up your claims.
KNPB You state in your report that the KNPB is a militant student wing of the OPM yet only offer no evidence to back this up aside from alleging that Victor Yiemo (Chairman of the KNPB) was active in getting the OPMs message out. However, a video interview recorded with Victor Yiemo before his arrest clearly sees him state that violence will not solve Papua's problems and that the KNPB seeks a peaceful resolution and international dialogue to solve West Papua's problems. This is in direct contradiction to your allegations of the KNPB being a militant group. Further to this, your assertion that the KNPB is a militant wing places members of it at great risk now as the Indonesian Government will be able to cite your report when attempting to place charges against members. To coincide with the ongoing trial, the video recording of Victor Yiemo mentioned above will be released to media in the coming days. I hope when you watch it you will have the decency to retract your comments about KNPB.
International Parliamentarians for West Papua You state in your report that just two politicians were behind IPWP and its launch. There are in fact over 50 politicans from around the world who have signed to the declaration, with at least 10 of these being members since its launch. With the recent launch in the European Parliament and an active lobbying phase being entered into there, the number of members will no doubt grow further still in the coming months.
There are countless other half truths and lies littered throughout your report. I am not sure of your motives behind some of the claims made in the report, but it will only serve to create further conflict in West Papua rather than broaden international awareness of what is actually happening in West Papua - a land where people live in fear of expressing themselves, speaking freely or raising a flag.
You state in your follow-up article that 'armed groups are committed to violence and killing people'. I agree with you whole heartedly with this statement. In West Papua now there are Indonesian backed Islamic militias operating in the highland region, and brutal sweeping operations are being carried out against the indigenous population. In the eyes of the majority of Papuans, the Indonesian military and militias are terrorists occupying their land, raping their mothers, sisters and children. The OPM are seen as heroic in standing up to Indonesian colonial rule, these militias and the ongoing genocide being committed by the Indonesian military.