West Papua is a province of Indonesia. It covers the two western peninsulas of the island of New Guinea, Bird’s Head Peninsula, and the Bomberai peninsula, along with nearby islands. West Papua is one of the least populated regions of Indonesia, with less than 1 million inhabitants.
West Papua is now one of the areas with the highest conflicts in Indonesia. After the Dutch occupation ended in 1962, control of the area was transferred to the Indonesian government. Nevertheless, West Papua wasn’t recognized as a province until 1999.
Conflicts in the area between Indonesian rulers and native Papuans have been ongoing for over a decade. Papuans and Papua Indigenous tribes, claim the land as theirs and demand independence from the central government. As many of the lands that once belonged to its native tribes, West Papua is rich in resources, lands, and mines.
As mentioned above, West Papua was a Dutch colony, unlike Papua New Guinea, a country that occupies the eastern half of the island. The UN said there should be a plebiscite to let West Papuans decide their future, but Indonesians, a very central country, forced Papuan leaders at gunpoint to vote for integration with the country.
The conflict has been armed since its beginnings, leaving plenty of injuries and deaths on its path. Military operations are frequent in West Papua where soldiers and police kill and torture with impunity.
Papua’s tribal people are Melanesians, very different from Malay ethnically, culturally, and linguistically. It’s worth mentioning that racism plays a huge part in this conflict. The highland tribes live off hunting and agriculture and have suffered the majority of massacres; during military raids, they are too scared to even go out and do these activities.
Many call what’s happening a genocide. It’s estimated that around 500,000 Papuans have been killed since the Indonesian takeover in the early ’60s. This is still happening today, with racial attacks to Papua university students in Java.
Free West Papua is an organization/campaign that exists to alert the world about the ongoing genocide that’s occurring in Papua, a page that I currently can’t access without a VPN as I’m in Bali, Indonesia.