The recent uprising in West Papua was sparked by racist attacks on Papuan students in the Indonesian city of Surabaya. However, the West Papuan people have been struggling for more than 60 years against Indonesian occupation, human rights violations and for the right of self determination.
Indonesian occupation has led to human rights abuses, disappearances, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, forced displacement and the deaths of an estimated 500,000 Papuans.
The Australian government is complicit in Indonesia’s repression of Papuan demands for self-determination and has a long history of opposing West Papuan self determination, right back to the end of Dutch colonisation.
Australia has supplied military helicopters used to carry out attacks, including napalm bombings and (along with Britain and the United States) trains Indonesian troops.
In 2006, the Australian government signed the Lombok Treaty with Indonesia, a security agreement that recognises Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua and precludes Australia's involvement in West Papuan matters.
In 2013, then prime minister Tony Abbott said “the people of West Papua are much better off as part of a strong, dynamic and increasingly prosperous Indonesia”.
In September, while protests were being violently repressed by Indonesian troops, the Australian government publicly reiterated its recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua.
The ALP’s position is no better. While a Labor spokesperson recently expressed “distress” and “concern” about the recent violence and affirmed Labor’s support for the right to "peacefully express political views" in West Papua, they also made reference to Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua under the Lombok Treaty.
Since August, untold numbers of protesters (many of them students) have been killed, arrested or disappeared. The internet is still shut down and journalists not allowed in.
Human rights activist Surya Anta, spokesperson for the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua has been arrested. Human rights lawyers have been interrogated and activists charged with sedition.
Australian-based human rights lawyer Veronica Koman is now wanted by the Indonesian government for her work in exposing the arrests, killings and repression in West Papua.
We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Surya Anta and the withdrawal of all military forces from West Papua.
We call on the Australian government to:
1. End its military training of repressive Indonesian forces;
2. Demand that Indonesia cease its violent repression of West Papuans, restore the internet and allow journalists inside West Papua;
3. Respect the right to self-determination of the Papuan people by calling for an internationally monitored referendum on independence; and
4. Grant human rights lawyer Veronica Koman protection and not hand her over to Indonesia.
[This resolution was adopted by the October 5–6 meeting of the Socialist Alliance National Council.]