The assassination of a West Papuan leader

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Yesterday a West Papuan leader, Mako Tabuni, was assassinated by Australian trained Indonesians. Kim Peart reviews the ongoing struggle of the West Papuan people for independence.

Papuan rebel leader Mako Tabuni was assassinated yesterday by Indonesian forces

From 1957 to 1962, Australia was working with the Dutch towards the independence of the whole island of New Guinea.

When Indonesia began invading in 1961 and war looked inevitable, we would have fought with the Dutch to defend the Papuans from invasion, just as the Papuans had helped us on the Kokoda Track in 1942.

When Washington stepped intervened in 1962 and told Holland to get out, Australia to butt out and provided assistance for Indonesia to invade New Guinea in a game of Realpolitik, Australia buckled at the knees and complied.

We thought that we were a free nation and then discovered that we were merely a vassal state of the United States that must do what we were told.

Didn't the United States fight a civil war over slavery?

And here we were going along with a bloody-minded slave trade of every West Papuan, man, woman and child — to buy the friendship of Indonesia along the highway into Vietnam.

When a supposed vote on self-determination was held in July 1969, the world attention was neatly drawn away from the theft of West Papua by a well-time visit of President Nixon to Jakarta and humanities first step onto the lunar Sea of Tranquility.

It was not tranquility in West Papua — with an armed rebellion happening at the time.

And they expected a fair go from the Free World?

The Act of "NO" Free Choice was a sham, a total abuse — but it got West Papua off the list of colonised territories and, apparently, irreversibly sunk into the Indonesia melting pot.

Now we read of the latest round of killings — killings that have been rolling out like a red carpet, soaked in Papuan blood, since Indonesia officially invaded New Guinea in 1963, as the new colonial master.

It was great news for American mining interests, who had launched a rather large mining project in the mountains of West Papua — which Australian interests are now part of and we benefit from.

Were we rather brave to issue an apology to our Aboriginal community?

We could not turn back that clock — but we could at least reconcile as children of this land.

In the world or Realpolitik, do we expect the West Papuans to rise up and fight for their freedom if they want liberty?

What happens when they even talk about freedom, or raise the Morning Star flag, is answered with bullets and jackboots, in a land where torture is rife.

So now we read of the assassination of the West Papuan leader Mako Tabuni.

Is his blood on our hands?

We trained the forces that shot him.

We built the expectations of the West Papuan people sky-high, and then walked away as if Papuan life and liberty had no real meaning in the world of lies, that we call Realpolitik.

Should we, the Australian people, invite our Parliament to issue an apology to the West Papuan people for our betrayal of their basic rights to life, liberty and respect for their land and ancient culture?

Do we forget that the Papuans have been in New Guinea as long as the Aborigines have lived in Australia — that during the last Ice Age, New Guinea was part of Australia.

Our cultural and land ties, our song lines with West Papua, are ancient beyond knowing.

Do we feel the pain of West Papua?

Should we invite the Dutch to apologise — the Americans and the United Nations.

And the Indonesians as well — who may finally find the heart, if under moral persuasion, to allow a properly run United Nations plebiscite in New Guinea.

Or will we sail blithely on, like Jason strapped to the mast of his ship, as the Siren cries of West Papuans slowly fade, as their numbers diminish in the slow-motion genocide that we permit to happen by our silence?

(Support the Free West Papuan campaign on Facebook by clicking here. Read other articles by Kim Peart , including about the Papuan crisis here.)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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