Indonesia Imposes Internet Blackout On West Papua 3


Following days of unrest, the Indonesian government blocked internet access on August 22nd in the provinces of Papua and West Papua (known collectively as West Papua). On August 19th, violent protests started in response to the mistreatment and racial abuse of Papuan students by the police in the Javanese city of Surabaya on August 17th, Indonesia’s Independence Day. Buildings have been set ablaze, roads have been blocked and protesters have been flying the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan self-rule that is banned under Indonesian law.

The Indonesian government has defended its decision, stating that blocking internet access is intended ‘‘to accelerate the process of restoring the security and order.’’ Minister for Communication and Information Technology Rudiantara added that the internet blockade helps ‘‘filter information and prevent the spread of rumours.’’

Not many people seem to share the government’s view and the decision has come under fire. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network’s (SAFEnet) executive director Damar Juniarto called the blackout ‘‘a serious backward step in democracy and a serious violation.’’ Benny Wenda, the exiled West Papuan independence leader and founder of the Free West Papua campaign, focused more on the unrest itself, opining that the Surabaya incident ‘‘lit the bonfire of nearly 60 years of racism, discrimination and torture of the people of West Papua by Indonesia.’’

Unfortunately for West Papua, the internet blackout suggests that Indonesia’s treatment of the two provinces is not about to improve. Blocking the internet restricts freedom of expression and access to information. It also gives the Indonesian government more control over information. In theory, it should make it more difficult to organize protests although it does not seem to have stopped West Papuans. 

The destructive nature of the protests is regrettable but the racial abuse suffered by the students in Surabaya is worse. Calling Papuans ‘‘monkeys’’ is bad enough, but chanting ‘‘kick out Papuans’’ and ‘‘slaughter Papuans’’ is atrocious and should have no place in 2019. Although there have been demonstrations in Jakarta supporting West Papua, it shows that racism still has a place in Indonesia’s relationship with West Papua. The provinces’ natural resources will always come before the interests of the people in the government’s eyes. 

Papua and West Papua are two of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, despite their wealth of natural resources. The Grasberg mine, the world’s largest gold mine and second largest copper mine, is located in Papua. 

This goes some way to explaining why Indonesia made so much effort to annex West Papua, which was a Dutch colony until the early 1960s. From 1963 onwards, it was governed by Indonesia, and formally became a part of Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-backed referendum. Only 1025 men and women were allowed to vote on whether to accept Indonesian occupation, all selected by Indonesia’s military. 

The referendum has been criticized and there have been calls for another one. In 2017, 1.8 million people, 70% of West Papua’s population, signed an illegal petition calling for another referendum that was carried around the provinces.

President Joko Widodo has urged for calm and forgiveness in response to the protests, but asking West Papuans to forgive what Wenda has termed their ‘‘slow-motion genocide,’’ is a tall order. Decades of mistreatment are not easily forgotten. Full integration of West Papua is not impossible, but it will not happen if its people are treated so much worse than the rest of Indonesia. The recent crackdown is not going to win the government any West Papuan popularity contests anytime soon.


3 thoughts on “Indonesia Imposes Internet Blackout On West Papua

  • Kobe Oser

    “Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter sets out the UN Security Council’s powers to maintain peace. It allows the Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security”

    Kobe Oser is demanding ACTION from UN Under Secretary General Jeffrey D. Feltman in this link, 49 minut 30 sec.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofnfz6HlIm4

    In accordance with the PAX AMERICANA DOCTRINE & the International 1962 New York Agreement, the US can prevent genocide & withdraw its carte blanche to the barbaric RI Generals regime & put a stop to the devastation of West Papua Melanesia, and the impunity for those responsible.
    This by adressing the UN C-24 & directing the ANZUS Security pact to secure the with the 1947 Canberra Agreement acknowledged Melanesian waters.

    Please consider the break-away of West Papua/ Melanesia from Indonesia through Self determination as simple mathematics by executing the following formula:

    1. The original 1945 Proklamasi Sukarno-Hatta was from “A till A” (Atjeh till Ambon), did NOT include West Papua. Because on that same day in 1945, according to the 1944 Atlantic Charter, West Papua tribal leaders led by Marcus Wonggor Kaisiëpo, issued a statement in Kota Nica to RADEN Colonel AbdulKadir Widojojoatmodjo of the NICA (Netherlands-Indies Civil Administration) which was governing West Papua.

    The message was simple: “West Papua Melanesia would determine its own future and therefore will never be a part of a new Indonesian state”. As from that moment any historical claim of Indonesia on West Papua is not funded as this 1945 statement widely expressed the Will of the West Papua people.

    Therefore how NKRI manages its Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or executes its Pancasilah is OF NO INTEREST WHATSHOWEVER to the people of West Papua Melanesia as Papuans MUST BE FREED FROM NKRI-TYRANNY.

    On this basis the 1947 Canberra Agreement between Pacific States and western states (U.S., Netherlands, France, Ireland Australia, N-Zealand) was signed, recognizing West Papua as a Nation and recognizing it’s Melanesian territorial borders and establishing the South Pacific Commission. As from that moment West Papua leaders attended the plenary sessions of the SPC.

    So Indonesia is living in denyal by considering West Papua as an internal question and within it’s own territorial integrity, as from 1963 Indonesia is ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING the since 1947 undisputed territorial Melanesian borders of West Papua Melanesia.

    Underlining this illegal basis, Indonesia prooved its democratic INCAPACITY by renaming West Papua several times, divide and conquer- politics, and keeping the world opinion happy by demonstrating democracy by issueing autonomy legislation in 2000, which still has to be implemented. And on top of this, issueing new legislation in 2006, dividing provinces, undermining its own 2001 autonomy laws.

    Indonesia’s failing attempts for democracy is illustrated with the banning of showing the West Papua Morningstar flag in public, which’s freely expression was adopted in 2001 by the parlement under president Abdulrahman Wahid.

    2. The revenues of West Papua’s natural resources and wealth (gold, copper nickel, oil& gas, wood) are feeding the economy of the FAILED democratic state Indonesia.
    West Papua Melanesia is Indonesia’s guarantee for economic survival and to avoid bankruptcy of the FAILED democratic Indonesian state.

    See link: https://fcx.com/operations/indonesia

    3. According to the US Pax Americana doctrine, the Kennedy Administration HANDED OVER West Papua in 1962 to Indonesia. Whenever USA’s interest & profits are endangered, the USA will strike Indonesia for its benefit (see cases of Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq).

    So in despite of the brutal and corrupt Indonesian Generals regime and its atrocities, the US will take back West Papua by re-implementing the 1962 New York Agreement to its merites, by using the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), inorder to maintain the Pax Americana Worldpeace.

    We are confident, that the present generation of representatives active at the United Nations Committee C-24, will follow up on this and set straight the record. Immediate decolonization is the issue at hand here.

    It is a Long Way to Go Never Give Up / Persevero !
    Setia Djudjur Mesra / Trouw, Eerlijk, Innig Verbonden.

    Link information: http://kobe-oser.nl/70th-anniversary-the-south-pacific-commission-with-west-papua-as-founding-member/

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