Round Table Talks on West Papua

June 27th, 2000

Press Release by the West Papua Network for the round table talks on West Papua

Berlin, June 29th and 30th 2000

(Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, Hackesche Höfe, Rosenthaler Str. 40-41)

westpapuanetzwerkThe West Papua Network calls on the German government to appeal to the Indonesian government to take all measures necessary in order to prevent any further escalation of violence in West Papua (Irian Jaya), to substantially reduce the military forces in the region and to resume the dialogue with the West Papuan people aiming at a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

In this respect it is indispensable that the Indonesian government starts investigations into human rights violations committed in West Papua. Those responsible for terror and massacres should subsequently be put on trial and victims be granted compensation.

Furthermore, we call on the German government to initiate and support projects aiming at civil conflict prevention and to urge for a comprehensive settlement of the West Papua conflict within the framework of the UN as well as the EU.

The West Papua Network fears that West Papua (Irian Jaya) might become a second East Timor. During the last weeks numerous pro-Indonesian and pro-independence militias have been formed in different towns. The pro-Indonesian militias that consist to a large extent of inhabitants of transmigration sites, are armed by the Indonesian army and trained by former army officers. The Indonesian goverment is planning to send in another 5 or 6 army and police battalions, thus strengthening the presence of armed security forces in the region.

Therefore the West Papua Network has in cooperation with Watch Indonesia! and the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation initiated round table talks in Berlin. Politicians as well as representatives of NGOs and churches will for two days discuss with prominent West Papuans and Indonesians possibilties to prevent any further escalation of violence in West Papua. It is hoped that these talks will contribute to a better mutual understanding between Indonesians, Germans and West Papuans.

The West Papua Network comprises app. 20 NGOs and several individual members.


Watch Indonesia! – Alex Flor, Monika Schlicher, Planufer 92d, 10967 Berlin, phone/fax: ++49-30-6981 7938, Mobile: 0179-292 2536

Coordinating office of the West Papua Network: Siegfried Zöllner, Rudolfstr. 137, 42285 Wuppertal, phone: ++49-202-8900 4170 or ++49-2336-81357, Mobile: 0173-284 5134

Advisory Board: Dr. Anita Heller, Protestant Church; Esther Hoffmann, Watch Indonesia!; Dr. Jochen Motte, United Protestant Mission; Hartmut Poth, Rain Forest Group Bochum; Wolfram Walbrach, Protestant Church Rheinland.

The following experts from West Papua and Indonesia will take part in the round table talks:

Dr. Benny Giay, Walter Probst Theological College, Jayapura, West Papua
Nato Gobay, Office for Human Rights at the Bishop (Catholic Church), Biak, West Papua
Dominggas Nari, Foundation for Rural Development (YPMD), Jayapura, West Papua
Agus Rumansara, WWF, Jayapura, West Papua
John Rumbiak, Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy, Jayapura, West Papua
Dr. George Aditjondro, University of Newcastle, Australia

Background information

On December 1st, 1961, the Netherlands, then the colonial power in controll of West Papua, put in place a “transitional parliament” that was supposed to prepare for the independence of “Dutch New Guinea”. However, the Netherlands were pressured by the United States, that feared a Communist take-over in Indonesia, into handing over West Papua to Indonesia. Thus, since May 1st, 1963 West Papua has been under Indonesian rule. According to the New York Agreement of August 1962, that spelled out the details of the hand-over, Indonesia was obliged to conduct a referendum in West Papua within six years. But in what was called the “Act of Free Choice” 1,025 hand picked representatives were pressured into voting for integration. And on November 19th, 1969, the United Nations General Assembly accepted this scandalous procedures in their resolution No. 2504.

On June 4th, 2000, a congress came to an end in West Papua which had been attended by thousands of West Papuans from different parts of the country. The 500 congress delegates called for a dialogue between the governments of Indonesia, the Netherlands and the United States as well as the United Nations with the aim of dealing with the history of the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia. The West Papuan Congress 2000 demands a revision of the above mentioned GA resolution No. 2504 and a recognition of independence that had been promised in 1961. President Abdurrahman Wahid had planned to open the congress, but due to his last minute change of mind he has now missed the chance to resume a dialogue with the West Papuan people.

It is estimated that since 1963 app. 50,000 Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian military and innumerable have been wounded, tortured and raped. The underlying reason for the repeated calls for independence are to be found in those human rights abuses, in racial discrimination and in the reckless exploitation of West Papua’s natural resources.

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