OPM calls for decolonisation of West Papua, condemns UN ‘collusion’

The OPM leader Jeffrey Bomanak (centre) at a West Papua public meeting in Port Moresby in 2020. Image: OPM

Asia Pacific Report

The Free Papua Organisation (Organisasi Papua Merdeka-OPM) has sent an open letter to the United Nations leadership demanding that “decolonisation” of the former Dutch colony of West New Guinea, the Indonesian-administered region known across the Pacific as West Papua, be initiated under the direction of the UN Trusteeship Council.

The letter accuses the UN of being a “criminal accessory to the plundering of the ancestral lands” of the Papuans, a Melanesian people with affinity and close ties to many Pacific nations.

According to the OPM leader, chairman-commander Jeffrey Bomanak, West Papuans had been living with the expectation for six decades that the UN would “fulfill the obligations regarding the legal decolonisation of West Papua”.

OPM leader Jeffrey Bomanak
OPM leader Jeffrey Bomanak . . . an open letter to the UN calling for the UN annexation of West Papua in 1962 to be reversed. Image: OPM

Alternatively, wrote Bomanak, there had been an expectation that there would be an explanation “to the International Commission of Jurists if there are any legal reasons why these obligations to West Papua cannot be fulfilled”.

The open letter was addressed to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi and Trusteeship Council President Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst.

Bomanak also accused the UN of “gifting” West Papua and Indonesia and the US mining conglomerate Freepost-McMoRan at Grasberg in 1967.

‘Guilty’ over annexation
“The United Nations is guilty of annexing West New Guinea on Sept 21, 1962, as a trust territory which had been concealed by the UN Secretariat from the Trusteeship Council.”

Indonesia has consistently rejected West Papuan demands for self-determination and independence, claiming that its right to sovereignty over the region stems from the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969.

But many West Papuans groups and critics across the Pacific and internationally reject the legitimacy of this controversial vote when 1025 elders selected by the Indonesian military were coerced into voting “unanimously” in favour of Indonesian rule.

A sporadic armed struggle by the armed wing of OPM and peaceful lobbying for self-determination and independence by other groups, such as the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), have continued since then with persistent allegations of human rights violations with the conflict escalating in recent months.

In 2017, the UN’s Decolonisation Committee refused to accept a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans calling for independence, saying West Papua’s cause was outside the committee’s mandate.

“The UN is a criminal accessory to the plundering of our ancestral lands and to the armament exports from member nations to our murderers and assassins — the Indonesian government,” claimed Bomanak in his letter.

“West Papua is not a simple humanitarian dilemma. The real dilemma is the perpetual denial of West Papua’s right to freedom and sovereignty.”

Bomanak alleges that the six-decade struggle for independence has cost more than 500,000 lives.

West Papua case ‘unique’
In a supporting media release by Australian author and human rights advocate Jim Aubrey, he said that the open letter should be read “by anyone who supports international laws and governance and justice that are applied fairly to all people”.

“West Papua’s case for the UN to honour the process of decolonisation is a unique one,” he said.

“Former Secretary General U Thant concealed West Papua’s rights as a UN trust territory for political reasons that benefited the Republic of Indonesia and the American mining company Freeport-McMoRan.

“West Papua was invaded and recolonised by Indonesia. The mining giant Freeport-McMoRan signed their contract to build the Mt Grasberg mine with the mass murderer Suharto in 1967.

“The vote of self-determination in 1969 was, for Suharto and his commercial allies, already a foregone conclusion in 1967.”

Aubrey said that West Papuans were still being “jailed, tortured, raped, assassinated [and] bombed in one of the longest ongoing acts of genocide since the end of the Second World War”.

Western countries accused
He accused Australia, European Union, UK, USA as well as the UN of being “accessories to Indonesia’s illegal invasion and landgrab”.

About Australia’s alleged role, Aubrey said he had called for a Royal Commission to investigate but had not received a reply from Governor-General David Hurley or from Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

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  1. Dear Editor David Robie. First, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families of the five West Papuans murdered today by TNI-Polri. May they rest in eternal peace.
    Thanks, David, for your attention to – dedication to – the freedom for those who have no freedom. I will keep this short. One thing I cannot complain about – my Facebook account has been suspended – I might get some sleep tonight! Why was it suspended? Well, I was commenting across various regional UN Women Facebook pages with this:
    Tarina Murib était une mère de 35 ans décapitée lors de la Journée internationale de la femme 2023. Son crime : elle était indigène de Papouasie occidentale … Tarina Murib was a 35-year old mother beheaded on International Women’s Day 2023. Her crime – she was indigenous West Papuan … Tarina Murib era una madre de 35 años decapitada en el Día Internacional de la Mujer de 2023. Su crimen: era indígena de Papúa Occidental … Tarina Murib adalah seorang ibu berusia 35 tahun yang dipenggal pada Hari Perempuan Internasional 2023. Kejahatannya – dia adalah penduduk asli Papua Barat.

    The text was joined to a link to your article ‘OPM calls for decolonisation of West Papua, condemns UN ‘collusion’.

    A strange world we live in! Even stranger that you are the only media site from my usual email list to consistently report the way things actually are, and the battle – yes, it is a battle – to reach … one day … a worthy civilization that includes freedom and nation-state sovereignty for West Papua. Asia Pacific Report – shining a path through the darkness of the Human Condition (and shameless Facebook suspensions) and showing media elsewhere that dignity and honour is what it takes.
    Hand on heart and Salute!
    Jim Aubrey
    spokesperson, Genocide Rebellion & West Papua Liberation Election Lobby

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