Annihilation of Indigenous West Papuans: Challenge and Hope

Published: Tue 26 Mar 2013 12:34 PM
The Annihilation of Indigenous West Papuans: A Challenge and a Hope
By Selpius Bobii
25 March 2013
This article will present a challenge to all who have a heart for and who are working without reward to save the ethnic people of West Papua which are now heading towards annihilation. This article will in particular consider the question as to whether there is truly annihilation occurring of the indigenous West Papuan people (The term Papua or West Papua below are taken to include both the Papuan and West Papuan Provinces).
Are Ethnic West Papuans really being annihilated?
The indigenous community of West Papua at this time is made up of 248 tribes (according to works of a Research Team published in 2008) inhabiting the land of West Papua. Whilst east Papua is the well known nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG). There have been findings that some tribes of Papua have already become extinct whilst others that are still surviving are now heading towards extinction. The finding that is most disturbing (references below) is that from Researchers at Yale University in USA and also Sydney University, Australia who have concluded that what is happening in Papua is in fact genocide with the primary actors being the Indonesian military (TNI) and Police (POLRI).
Military Operations
The main means of this annihilation is the overt and covert military operations that have been carried out by the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) continually since the military invasion in 1962. An invasion that was intended to actualise the declaration of TRIKORA, (being to dismantle the State of Papua), by the then President Sukarno.
There have been three major stages of military operations as applied in Papua. The first was preceded by the sending of military troops illegally to Papua in 1962, at a time when Papua was still under administration of the Dutch Government. An occurrence which Papuans state to have been a military invasion. The first stage of ongoing military operations occurred following the surrender of the administration of Papua from the Dutch to NKRI in 1963. That stage continued from 1963-1969. NKRI used a number of names for this stage of their military operations including ‘Operation Annihilation, Operation Ox I (using the name for wild ox of Java ‘banteng’),Operation Ox II, Operation Red Eagle, Operation White Eagle, Operation Wolf and Operation Dragon.
After NKRI had successfully invaded Papua, it then continued its military operations with strategies and tactics that were to become most decisive in this stage of history. This second stage of military operations were known as (as translated) Operation Authority (1970-1974), Operation Erode (1977), Operation Aware(1979), Operation Sweep Clean (1981-1984). (See attached article ‘ The Existence of TNI and Military Violence in Papua from 1963-2005’ the Regional Military Operations (referred to as Daerah Operasi Militer ‘DOM’) was in effect from 1978 to 5 October 1998. Withdrawal of this status in Papua was encouraged by the Reformation in 1998 but even though by law the DOM status was withdrawn on 5 October 1998 nevertheless there was a continuation of ‘de-facto’ military operations which continued to this time.
The third stage which started with the Reformation in 1998 and which has continued to run concurrently with the second stage until this date, has involved a number of specific operations that have been carried out. These have become known as: Bloody Biak (06 July 1998), Bloody Nabire (2000), Bloody Abepura (6-7 December 2000), Bloody Wamena (6 October 2002), Waspier (13 June 2001), Bloody Kiama and Bloody Padang Bullen (20 October 2011). At the date of writing military operations are continuing in Puncak Jaya, Puncak, Wamena and Paniai together with other covert operations throughout the land of Papua.
Numbers of deaths resulting from Military Operations
According to scientific research carried out by Yale University in the USA it has been estimated that between 1963 and 1969 that more than 10,000 indigenous Papuans were slaughtered by the TNI and / or Indonesian Police. Whilst from 1971 through until Regional Military Operations were officially again brought into effect (1978-1998), it is really not accurately known the extent of the large numbers of indigenous Papuans killed. As in all the processes used to kill the numbers killed were not recorded by the armed forces. Whilst the community to date has never been allowed ‘the space’ to be able to gather and publish the data (ie space from intimidation and fear of known ramifications). Military operations during this time have included bombings, shootings, kidnapping, murder, forced disappearances, detention and imprisonment, torture, rape, theft of domestic livestock, destruction of crops/vegetable gardens (which are peoples' source of survival), burning of homes to the ground, burning of churches, killing by poisoning of food and water, and others.
There have been killings carried out in sadistic ways such as victims whilst still alive, having their body parts chopped off with a short machete / chopping knife or axe; or victims being sliced up with razors or knives then then the open flesh being filled with chilly water; males and females being forced to have sex before their torturers then the males genitals being cut off and the their wives forced to eat them, following which they are both killed; being killed by being suspended (strung up) until dead; being thrown alive into deep chasms where there is no way out; being placed tied alive into a sack then thrown into the sea or a lake or river; being buried in the earth alive; iron bars being heated in a fire then inserted into the anus, the mouth or into the female internally through the genitals.
Introduced diseases
Diseases that have been taken to Papua by unmedicated new settlers has also played a role in accelerating the rate of death of Papuans since the annexation of Papua into NKRI. Those introduced diseases include TB, Tapeworm infections, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis, venereal diseases, HIV/AIDS and others. In the previous era prior to new settlers arriving these diseases were unknown by our ancestors. These types of infections / diseases spread quickly after infected persons arrive due to inadequate health services and the absence of availability of health equipment and infrastructure in the Papuan villages. Even when there is health equipment in the remote villages so often the staff are half-hearted about health services for Papuans and health problems arising from the spread of these introduced diseases are not properly attended to. If newcomers are not treated immediately on arrival these diseases spread ferociously amongst the indigenous population that has not had time to develop resistance to them and in this environment of poor health services that frequently leads to death.
Alcohol related deaths
Consumption of alcoholism is also playing a role in the annihilation of indigenous Papuans. The Writer once noticed on a carton in a shop the notice (as translated) “ This stock especially for Papuans”. Why is there separate alcohol stock for Papuans? Many indigenous Papuans have died as an immediate result of alcohol consumption. Is there something mixed into the alcohol that which can cause quick death? Is it in fact ethanol (100% alcohol) that is being sold for Papuans consumption? Apart from many deaths related to alcohol, many social problems are also being created within families as a result of excessive drinking and many alcohol related crimes have occurred. The national government has on a number of occasions run campaigns to prohibit the excessive consumption of alcohol but at the same time they’ve been giving permits to proprietors to import and sell alcohol in shops and bars (with no limits imposed). Clearly there is tax income generated from these sales for the government. However the tax made by the government on these unregulated sales is far outweighed by the costs of the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on the community. This can destroy young peoples' futures, quite apart from the sudden deaths it often causes. There is a locally made type of alcohol that is known as ‘Milo’ that could if regulated well by working with the local community, have much less destructive effects on our people. However as the government really doesn’t have a heart to break this chain of excessive production and distribution of alcohol, so this is yet another instance - though be it indirect - of the government contributing to the increased death rate of the indigenous Papuan race.
Government ‘Family Planning’ Programs
Another factor effecting the population growth of ethnic Papuans is the government’s Family Planning Program. As Papuans have now become a minority in the land of our ancestors and our numbers are known to be decreasing, what then is the purpose of the government restricting the birth rate of indigenous Papuan families? Their family planning program teaches that ‘2 children is better’ but to Papuans this is absolutely not acceptable. Why should indigenous Papuans that have such a wide expanse of land and so much natural wealth yet be forced to join this program? We believe this is but another aspect of NKRI’s attempts though indirect, to bring about the decline of the Papuan indigenous population.
Loss of lands and natural resources
A further factor contributing to the decrease in the population of indigenous West Papuans is that of welfare as related to lost access to land and natural resources. Indeed financial problems of ethnic groups living in urban areas are a very real determining factor contributing to the annihilation of some ethnic West Papuan tribes. This is the result of their land and natural resources being taken over by new immigrants and whether by means of sale or theft, the end result is the same; being that people from those urban areas become without land and without natural resources, the two factors which have throughout time been their source of life. Indeed this can cause depression, stress, deep psychological problems, poor nutrition, sickness and finally death. At the time of writing there are indigenous tribes from two regions in particular considered to be at high risk in this regard as they have sold the lands of their ancestors to newcomers. These are in Jayapura city and the wider the Jayapura local government area and secondly in the Merauke city area. Their children and grandchildren will have no lands of their own and this will have really serious consequences for the continued existence of these tribes.
Transmigration effects
The fourth category of determining factors contributing to the annihilation of the indigenous West Papuan race is transmigration. The previous Governor of the Papuan Province in 2010 stated that the total of migration to Papua was already high enough, but it nevertheless continued to grow at 5% each year whilst according to him the ‘normal’ rate of increase should have been 1% p.a.. Based on the provincial government’s figures from their Statistics Centre (BPS) as published in early 2011 for the entire Province of West Papua, the total of the indigenous Papuan population was 51.67% of the total population with numbers of 760,000 in the whole of Papua. (See:, Tuesday 11/01/2011). Jim Elmslie in his book ‘West Papua Demographic Transition and the 2010 Indonesia Census: Slow motion genocide or not?’ (Published by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University) stated that the indigenous population had grown from 887,000 in 1971 to 1,505,405 in the year 2000 (an average rate of 1.84% increase p.a).; Whilst the non-indigenous population in Papua had grown from 36.000 in 1971 to 708,425 (with an increase rate of 10.82% p.a.). By 2010 the indigenous Papuan population was 1,730,336 (47.89%) whilst the population of non-indigenous Papuans was 1,882,517 (52.10%), a total population of 3,612,853. In his book Elmslie estimated that by the year 2020 that the total population in Papua will reach 7,287,463 comprised of indigenous Papuans at 2,112,681 (28%) and non-indigenous Papuans at 5,174,782 (71.01%). According to Elmslie the variance of the rate of increase in indigenous Papuans compared to non-indigenous persons , is the result of firstly human rights violations and secondly and more primarily, the effect of transmigration. (See original:(
The jump from 36,000 persons in 1971 to 708,425 in 2000 then 1,852,297 is truly startling. This current level of migration flow can be attributed to the attraction of the presence of the Special Autonomy program in Papua together with the continually increasing divisions of Papua into more provinces, regencies (which creates new major towns as administrative centres), districts and grouped villages. As long as the government continues to create more divisions of the land, the massive flow of migrants into Papua will continue to increase. We need to at the same time look closely at the indigenous Papuan figures which from 887,000 persons in 1971 to 1,505,405 in 2000 and 1.760.557 in 2010, show an increase of a mere 255,152 in the 10 year period 2000 to 2010. On the basis of these numbers researchers have calculated that indigenous Papuans are becoming an increasing minority and at this rate by the year 2030 indigenous Papuans as a race will have become died out.
It needs to be emphasized that these are conservative estimates of the rate of annihilation of indigenous Papuans. As the accuracy of the Centre of Statistics (BPS) figures really can’t be taken as certain from the Writer’s perspective. As to date there has been no news that the heads of all the villages throughout Papua have indeed worked together with the Heads of their Districts to ensure names provided are in fact correct and to ensure names of those already deceased have been treated correctly and to ensure no names have been factiously created to get some financial assistance, or rice under a poverty program,or other assistance under the Village Development program (called ‘Respek’); or perhaps for reasons related to the choice of regional leaders in the elections. The Writer is absolutely certain that if there had been carried out a credible population census that was honest and accurate, that the total of indigenous Papuans in 2010 would surely be less that that provided by the Centre for Statistics (BPS) and conversely the total of non-indigenous would should even greater numbers. As virtually every time, every week there are passenger ships land or planes land in Papua, there are yet more new migrants arrive in the land of Papua. In his book ‘ The Papuan Way : Latent Conflict Dynamics and Reflections of 10 years of Special Autonomy in Papua’ Antonius Ayorbaba stated that the rate of migration to Papua was actually 6.39% and that the population census data for Papua in truth was 30% indigenous Papuans and 70% migrants (See:, 12 January 2012). These figures are starkly different to that data reported by the government.
If we compare the even perhaps overstated BPS figures of the indigenous Papuan population with that of Papua New Guinea (PNG) we see that in 1971 the numbers on PNG at roughly 900,000 weren’t much different to West Papua at 887,000. Whilst by 2010 the PNG indigenous population had soared to 6.7 million compared to Papua’s 1,760,557. Whether from being killed or died of ill health or not able to be born due to the living conditions Papuans are under, based on the fact that in 1971 their relative numbers were so close, Papuans take this massive relative difference of some 4 million in 2010 to indicate the number of souls lost through the process of annihilation happening in West Papua over that 10 year period.
The Writer is of no doubt that there indeed is occurring a slow but certain process of annihilation of indigenous Papuans in the land of West Papua.
On 15 August 1962 the United Nations mediated the ‘New York Agreement’ between Indonesia and the Dutch in New York bringing about the annexation of Papua into NKRI. An annexation which was fully supported by the USA and U.N due to their own economic interests. The people of Papua were not a party to the agreement nor even was there a single Papuan present at the time that agreement was signed. Followed by the morally and legally flawed ‘Act of Free Choice’ where a mere 1025 Papuans were required to choose on behalf of the entire Papuan population whether to remain part of Indonesia or not. A process that involved threats to their families and extreme intimidation by NKRI. For the last 50 years since that time NKRI has tried to divide and conquer Papua following their 5 Principle Ideology of ‘Pancasila’.Whilst meanwhile the people of Papua have continued to Struggle against NKRI to regain their sovereignty and have applied an entirely different ideology referred to as the ‘Mabruk’ Ideology. Even the very ideologies of the Indonesians and Papuans are at conflict. The end result of this problematic history has been the present consequence occurring in Papua which is a human-made humanitarian disaster. A humanitarian emergency that is horrifying indeed though hidden from the world and not yet ackowledged by the world as even serious.
To act and save the indigenous Papuan race in West Papua from being totally annihilated, the organisation ‘Front PEPERA WEST PAPUA’ stresses that the following need to occur as a matter of urgency:
1). U.N or another third neutral party needs to immediately mediate consultations on an equal basis between NKRI and the nation (the community) of Papua and to do so without conditions and with the goal of looking for a solution.
2). The International Community whether as individuals, organisations, government or non-government, need to encourage the U.N to mediate in these consultations between NKRI and the Papuan indigenous people.
3) The International Community and the U.N need to pressure NKRI to be involved in dialogue/consultations with the people of Papua as mediated by UN or another third neutral party and in accordance with international standards.
For actioning by all parties involved in this humanitarian crisis.
‘Unity without Limits, Struggle until Victorious!’
By Selpius A. Bobii
General Chairperson
The United Front of the Struggle of the People of Papua
(and as a) Political Detainee in Abepura Prison, Jayapura, West Papua
Abepura Prison, Monday 25 March 2013

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