A student writer believes greens are trying to preserve West Papua as an archaic backgarden for Westerners disillusioned by modernity.
Independence movements, once determined to win self-determination by force of arms, have increasingly come to rely on appeals for Western intervention to win freedom on their behalf. Rather than demanding our respect as self-determining peoples, independence movements have learned to depict themselves as victims, to appeal to Western prejudices and paternalism – with the result that, for instance, people in Kosovo are still not trusted to run their own affairs without our supervision (1). Now, in an effort to win backing for independence from Indonesia, West Papuans are even appealing to environmentalism.West Papua was integrated into Indonesia in 1969 via the ‘Act of Free Choice’, a stage-managed consultation of tribal elders, stitched up in advance by Indonesia, the United States, the Netherlands and the UN to produce this outcome. Like other outlying areas of Indonesia, West Papua’s resources were pillaged by powerful Javanese interests and foreign investors like the notorious Freeport mining company, while its people were brutalised by the Indonesian military. The Papuan people have seen little benefit, mostly continuing to live in tribal settlements in grim socio-economic conditions. The Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Organisation for a Free Papua), armed with bows and arrows, was no match for Indonesian troops. Faced with armed defeat, the movement decided to focus entirely on seeking international support for its little-known struggle (2). Read the rest of this entry »