Our work in West Papua: “Refugees in their own land”
Pacific Peoples’ Partnership supports the calls for democracy, equality and human rights in West Papua. We stand by our partners and the Indigenous peoples of West Papua who overwhelmingly support independence and recognition as a sovereign state. We also continue to advocate for improved human rights in West Papua and call for an end to extrajudicial killings and the imprisonment of peaceful protesters.
Where is West Papua?
West Papua is located on the western half of the island of New Guinea. It lies 200km north of Australia. Its lands are rich in natural resources such as minerals, oil and natural gas. It is also home to some of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests.
A History of West Papua
The People of West Papua
West Papua is home to over 250 diverse tribes which all speak their own languages and have distinct cultures and traditions. The majority of this Indigenous population still lives traditional subsistence lifestyles.
Over the last 50 years, Indonesia has relocated hundreds of thousands of people into West Papua in an effort to undermine and weaken calls for independence. This transmigration program has exacerbated many problems and flared tensions amid the populations. West Papua now has an approximate 50/50 split between transmigrants and Indigenous Papuans.
We continue to call on both the Canadian and Indonesian government to end the human rights abuses that are ongoing in West Papua and to work towards recognizing its independence.
Here you can find our Call to Action drafted by Executive Director, April Ingham which aims to inform and inspire Canadians to take a stand against the Indonesian Government-led repression in the Pacific island territory.
In October of 2019, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership called on the Honourable Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of writing) to address the escalating conflict in West Papua. You can find the letter here.
Five months later, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, returned correspondence indicating that Canada hoped for “a peaceful resolution to the ongoing situation in Papua…” whilst “recognizing and supporting the territorial integrity of Indonesia.” Pacific Peoples’ Partnerships was disappointed in the content of the response and hope Canada will take a stronger stance in favour of human rights and West Papuan independence. The returned correspondence can be found here.
In March of 2021, the Canadian Government made a call for consultations on a potential free trade agreement (also referred to as a CEPA but they are fundamentally very similar). PPP sent our reflections and critiques in response to the call, given our long relationship with the people of West Papua as well as our commitment to environmental stewardship and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
You can read our letter here:
We have yet to receive an official response from the government.
Call to Action
Write to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne to ask him to put pressure on the Indonesian government to stop the killings, torture and arrests, and support freedom of choice in West Papua. 125 Sussex Drive (no stamp necessary), Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6, Francois-Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca
Join a Canadian based working committee to learn more about this ongoing human rights crisis and get involved in advocacy and solutions based responses. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate to, or get involved with the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, the main Canadian organization working on Papuan Indigenous rights. https://pacificpeoplespartnership.org