“If PNG’s leadership recognizes West Papuans as Melanesians now is the time to make that commitment”

I am writing to you with grave concerns for my people and the recent developments in West Papua.

Local stringers on the ground have confirmed that more than two hundred human rights and political activists have fled into the jungle in Wamena and many from the coastal regency have escaped to other parts of Indonesia.

Information via text messages on Sunday, 28 October confirms that a boat-load of activists has crossed the border to escape the Indonesian security police arbitrary detention, arrests and violence for their safety.

“It is very alarming and I’m deeply concern about their safety,” said Ronny Kareni, West Papuan independence advocate, based in Melbourne.

“Indonesia is moving towards democracy, but is it democracy at work when the military hunt down activists like animals?” asked Mr Kareni.

“Should they arrive in PNG territory, Papua New Guinea (PNG) government must immediately grant them protection and provide security measures through proper mechanism under the PNG constitution.” pleaded Mr Kareni.

West Papua has become one of the most militarized territories in the world, with one Indonesian-security identity for every 100 citizens. In Indonesia each regency, not each province, is automatically assigned 1 Land Army battalion, 1 Police company, 1 BRIMOB company, 1 Airforce company, and 1 Naval in coastal regencies. The Indonesian government authorized the TNI to implement its “Military Enters Village” (TMMD) program.  Chief-of-Staff General Pramono Wibowo—the son of the military commander in West Papua before, during and after the Act of Free Choice—told Indonesian journalists “The villages where TNI chooses to conduct the TMMD programs are those that we believe are likely to be influenced by the OPM”.  Using ‘OPM’ as usual as short-hand for the West Papuan independence ambition, the general, who is President Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law was, effectively, declaring war.

In 1962 the Papuan population was 96.09%, today they are only 48.73%. Unlike the Indonesian government, Papuan peace-makers are highly motivated to settle the fifty-year issue through dialogue as their population rapidly diminishes.

“If Papua New Guinea’s leadership recognizes West Papuans as Melanesians and our right to sovereignty now is the time and the opportunity to make that commitment.” called Ronny Kareni.

In solidarity,

Ronny Kareni, independence advocate at Rize of the Morning Star Campaign

Phone: +675 7012 2344 (PNG) or +61404037235 (Australia)

Email: ronnykareni@gmail.com