11. THE UNKNOWN WAR IN WEST PAPUA

Under the guise of the "redistribution of overpopulation" and with the support of loans from the World Bank, the Indonesian government has, without drawing international media attention, invaded and occupied several Fourth World nations including East Timor (one of the top ten "censored" stories in both 1979 and 1985) and West Papua.

These countries are then resettled with people loyal to the central Indonesian government. Indonesia's 1984-1989 five year plan is to move five million people from Java, Madura, and Bali to areas which resist Java's imposed sovereignty: Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, South Moluccas, East Timor, and West Papua. Over the next 20 years, some 65,000,000 more people are to be moved to Javanize Fourth World territories claimed by Indonesia.

To accomplish this in West Papua, the Indonesian government is faced with the task of destroying the OPM (Free Papua Movement). The OPM has been fighting the occupying Indonesia forces in a classic David vs. Goliath battle since 1965. As usual, it is a war where the civilians suffer the most; there are some 12,000 Papuan refugees living in camps on the Irian Jaya-Papua New Guinea border.

The basic strategy of the Indonesian military is to attack small village communities supposedly sympathetic to the guerrillas with ground attack jets and strafing helicopters. They then land ground troops who kill any survivors, destroy the houses, kill the livestock, and devastate the gardens and trees.

West Papua is one of the main areas targeted for annexation and incorporation by the military-backed Indonesian transmigration program. Its abundant forest and mineral resources and offshore oil potential make it even more attractive for development by invasion.

West Papua, like East Timor, has been living under Indonesian military occupation for many years. Worldwide ignorance about the events that led to its colonization, the nature of the repression, and the lack of information about the resistance has made it possible for Indonesia to proceed with the destruction of Papuan life largely unhampered by international concern and condemnation.

By failing to report what is happening in West Papua, East Timor and elsewhere in the region, the media quietly lend their support to the crimes by the Indonesian military there.

SOURCES:

NORTHERN SUN NEWS, November 1986, "The War. Nobody's Told You About," by Malcolm Gault-Williams, pp 5 & 8; THE UTNE READER, Jan/Feb 1987, "Repression and Eco-devastation In Indonesia," by Charlie Sugnet, pp 9-10; SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL U.S.A., January 1986, "Papua Refugees Forcibly Repatriated."