The Guardian August 29, 2001


West Papua: independence inevitable, non-negotiable

The following is a statement from the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) or 
Free Papua Movement (FPM), the sole representative body for the 
independence aspirations of the people of West Papua.

After carefully watching recent regional and international political 
changes, the OPM feels it is necessary to make our position clear in regard 
to what is happening now in Indonesia and the Pacific region in relation to 
the issue of the people of West Papua and their struggle for independence. 
This is to ensure there is no confusion by the regional and international 
community.

West Papua occupies a strategic position between Asia and the Pacific 
regions and between Muslim and Christian dominated societies. West Papua's 
population, natural resources, land mass and strategic geographical 
position make us a powerful player in the region.

It is our belief that the process of resolution of independence for West 
Papua has the potential to either stabilise or destabilise the region. We 
see that changes in the international and regional context following the 
end of the Cold War and since means West Papua independence is inevitable.

This changing context led the OPM to see [that] it is possible to solve the 
problem of West Papua independence without violence. But we want to be 
clear that our peoples' aspiration for independence is something that will 
not die. We are therefore also ready to fight to the last man if necessary 
to ensure we secure justice and independence for West Papua.

In response to Megawati Sukarnoputri's statements on attaining office as 
Indonesia's fifth President that independence will not be tolerated for 
West Papua, we would like to point out that our stand is very clear: 
independence for West Papua is not negotiable, so it is a waste of time 
talking about autonomy.

Our 65,000 fighters are ready to fight to the last man. We do not accept 
your apology without independence. To us it is just another lie in a long 
line of lies, starting with the so-called Act of Free Choice and continuing 
through almost 40 years of brutal oppression of our people. It is time to 
stop telling lies to the international community about the reality.

Mrs Megawati has been the leader of the Democracy Movement in Indonesia and 
many people believed in her in the past 10 years. Her recent statements 
show she is not genuine and that she is contradicting the principles of the 
democracy movement in Indonesia. Her presidency will not last long.

Indonesia today is not the same as the Indonesia of yesterday. The people 
of Indonesia want peace, justice and democracy. To maintain a large unitary 
state of Indonesia you need a large military to contain it, and a military 
state does not allow democracy.

Democracy can only exist if the Indonesian state is modified which will 
allow the military to be put back in their barracks. The independence of 
West Papua is therefore in the best interests of Indonesian democracy.

[Australian Prime Minister] John Howard's statement in support of 
maintaining the unitary state of Indonesia during his recent visit to 
Indonesia (which he chose instead of attending the Pacific Islands Forum) 
is interference in the domestic affairs of another state.

He should realise that such arrogance puts innocent Australians in danger. 
Australia continues to defend its own interests as though Indonesia is the 
same as before. The reality is that Indonesia is changing and Australia 
should accept this and formulate [a] new foreign policy accordingly.

Australians fought and died in this region in WW2 to defend freedom and 
democracy against fascism. Why then do you continue to support a fascist 
military state? West Papuans made a contribution in defending Australia in 
WW2; Australia should compensate us with political will to defend our right 
to freedom and justice.

[The] West Papuan people have survived almost 40 years of oppressive and 
brutal Indonesian colonialism. We have suffered too long, but we have been 
patient and continue to look broadly to ensure peace and stability for our 
region.

* * *
* John E Somer General TPN OPM Supreme Commander

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