The people of West Papua have been calling for self-determination for almost half a century – a struggle for liberation from an Indonesian military occupation that has seen as many as 500,000 Papuans killed.
After WWII, the Dutch, who colonized West Papua, began making preparations for its liberation, while Indonesia continued to lay claim to the territory. In 1961, Papuans raised their flag – The Morning Star – sang their national anthem and declared their independence. Soon after, Indonesia invaded, supported and armed by the Soviet Union.
Fearing the spread of communism and with mining interests in West Papua, the U.S. intervened, and along with the UN, brokered the New York Agreement, giving interim control of West Papua (under UN supervision) to Indonesia in 1963, until a referendum could take place granting West Papuans a vote for either integration into Indonesia or self-determination.
During those years a special brand of Javanese imperialism ensued. The policy of "Transmigrasi", under which millions of Javanese are encouraged to emigrate from their overpopulated island to the less-populous periphery of Indonesia, was pursued aggressively in West Papua. In West Papua, it has resulted in the Papuans becoming an ethnic minority in their own country.
Over the next several years, before the vote, it’s estimated that 30,000 West Papuans were killed by Indonesian military, in a brutal silencing of dissent and suppression of liberationist ideals.
In 1969, the vote – ironically called “The Act Of Free Choice” - turned out to be fraudulent, and its outcome, which rejected West Papua independence, was controlled and engineered by Indonesia. Just one percent of the population was selected to vote, and those chosen were intimidated by security forces, resulting in a unanimous vote for West Papua to be ruled by Indonesia.
However In 1969, in defiance of the Indonesian occupation, the Papuan resistance leaders in West Papua, proclaimed their nation's independence from Indonesia and started their resistance against the occupying Indonesians. Since then the invading Indonesian army has killed (according to Human-rights groups) more than 500,000 civilians.
Amnesty international wrote the following about the current situation in West Papua: “The people of Papua are subject to severe human rights violations at the hands of the Indonesian authorities. Their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are heavily curtailed. Many people are imprisoned simply for having taken part in non-violent demonstrations, or having expressed their opinions. Indonesian forces were practiscing gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.”
Indonesian troops arresting Papuans.
The main reason why Indonesia wants to keep hold of the provinces largely because of its vast potential for foreign resource-extraction projects. One of the largest copper and gold mines in the world—the Grasberg—belongs to U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoRan and has long been a thorn in the side of many Papuans.
Concessions for this company were granted by Indonesia to the U.S. in 1967. Declassified U.S. policy documents divulge its support for Indonesian rule in West Papua – this arrangement meant the U.S. could carry out its plans to carve up Papua’s rich natural resources.
The then-national security adviser, Henry Kissinger wrote to President Richard Nixon saying that an independent West Papua “would be meaningless among the Stone Age cultures of New Guinea.” Kissinger later became a board member of Freeport. He is described in a 1997 CorpWatch article as being the “company’s main lobbyist for dealings with Indonesia.”
Papupans see the "Freeport" company, and similar foreign investments, as destroying the environment and propping up the Indonesian military. The U.S. along with other western nations like Australia, are actually funding and training the Indonesian army and support it in its genocidal campaign against the Papuan people, in the hopes of securing future business opportunities in a West Papua that's occupied by Indonesia .
This is why you never hear about the ongoing conflict in West Papua on the corporate mainstream media, it would be bad for business.