OPM leader calls for ‘world indigenous UN’ – end to Papuan colonisation

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Melanesian solidarity with West Papua on display at the MACFEST 23
Melanesian solidarity with West Papua on display at the MACFEST 23 in Port Vila, Vanuatu, last month. Image: Stoen/APR

Asia Pacific Report

The leader of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has called for the establishment of a “United Indigenous Nations” for global justice and an end to Indonesia’s ‘malignant’ colonisation of West Papua.

Today — August 9 — is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, as declared at the inaugural UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982.

OPM chairman and commander Jeffrey Bomanak said such a new global indigenous body would “not repeat the failure of the United Nations in denying any people their freedom”.

OPM leader Jeffrey Bomanak
OPM leader Jeffrey Bomanak . . . “The integrity of indigenous peoples is not for sale”. Image: OPM

“The integrity of indigenous peoples is not for sale,” he said in a stinging statement to mark the international day.

He offered an “independent” West Papua as host for the proposed United Indigenous Nations to lead international governance with an international forum representing — for the first time — the principled values and ideals of indigenous and First Nations peoples who were the “true guardians of our ancestral motherlands”.

He criticised the UN’s lack of action over decolonisation for indigenous peoples, blaming the body for allowing the “predatory destruction of the world caused by the economic multinational imperialists and their unsustainable greed”.

Citing the UN website for indigenous peoples, he highlighted the statement:

“Centuries-old marginalisation and other varying vulnerabilities are some of the reasons why indigenous peoples do not have the same possibilities of access to education, health system, or digital communications.”

And also:

“Violations of the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples have become a persistent problem, sometimes because of a historical burden from their colonisation backgrounds and others because of the contrast with a constantly changing society.”

Bomanak said that while these two quotes read well, they were “misrepresentative of the truth that has been West Papua’s tragic experience with the United Nations”.

‘Disingenuous manipulation’
“The facts are that the UN has prevented West Papua’s right to decolonisation through a disingenuous manipulation of the Cold War events of the 1960s,” he said.

“Indonesia’s invasion and illegal annexation of West Papua remains a malignancy in principle and diplomacy only matched by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But with different diplomatic outcomes applied by the UN Secretariat.

“The UN Secretariat acts with incredulous diplomatic effrontery to allegations of collusion and complicity with a host of other predatory nations, all eager to plunder West Papua’s natural resources — the world’s greatest El Dorado.”

He singled out Australia, China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States for criticism.

Indigenous people knew the story of West Papua from their own experience with the same predatory nations and the “same prejudicial and corrupt geopolitics” that characterised the UN, Bomanak said.

“G20 conquerors and colonisers have never put down their swords and guns. They have never stopped conquering and colonising, either by military invasion or economic imperialism.

“They will never understand the indigenous perception of ancestral custodianship of our lands.

“The defence forces and militia groups of G20 nations still murder us in our beds and our beds are burning.”

Conflict of interest
The UN could not stop “global melting” because it was a conflict of interest with the “G20
business-as-usual paradigm of economic exploitation” fueling expansion economies.

“They will not stop until all our ancestral lands are one infertile wasteland. The UN is unable to resolve this self-defeating dynamic,” Bomanak said.

“The UN should be a democratic, progressive and 100 percent accountable institution. This is not West Papua’s experience.

“Six decades ago, the UN should have fulfilled the decolonisation of West Papua for the commencement of our nation-state sovereignty. Instead, we were sold to the highest bidders — Indonesia and the American mining company Freeport McMoRan.”

The problem with international diplomacy was that the UN was “beholden to the G20’s vested interests” and its formal meeting place in New York, Bomanak claimed.

“Why remain inside the belly of the beast?” he asked other indigenous peoples.

“Upon liberation of our ancestral motherland, and upon the agreement of the new government of West Papua, I would like to offer all colonised tribes and nations of the conquering empires — all indigenous peoples — the opportunity to manage our international affairs with absolute justice and accountability.

“International relations with indigenous governance for indigenous people. We will build the United Indigenous Nations in West Papua.”

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