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US discloses documents on Papua independence struggle

Tempo - December 11, 2017

Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta The United States has disclosed documents on Papua independence struggle. The documents say that Papuans asked for U.S. funding and armed them to fight Indonesian military in mid-1960.

The documents also recorded Papuan grievances about clashes with Indonesian security forces. Papuan nationalists have caught the attention of the United Nations (UN).

Researchers are currently trying to serve the documents online. AP reported that the dossier contains thousands of diplomatic telegrams between the U.S. State Department and Embassy in Jakarta. The documents recorded history from 1960 and were declassified early this year. Thirty-seven boxes of telegrams are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration in Maryland.

The documents say that around 1,000 Papuans were cheated out of their rights as citizens to vote to strengthen Indonesia's foothold in 1969. Before the annexation, the Netherlands had said that it would allow Papuans to prepare for their own government. In 1967, the U.S. government assisted mining company Freeport to exploit rich mining and gold deposit in Papua.

In April 1966, the documents transmitted by telegraph cable between the State Department and the U.S. Embassy recorded the "eloquence and intensity" of Markus Kaisiepo, an exiled Papuan leader. Kaisiepo talked with U.S. senior official on the plight of Papuans under the Indonesian rule.

Kaisiepo said that Papuans were striving for independence, but they lack financial resources and military equipment to fight the Indonesian government. He asked whether the U.S. government could lend a hand.

The request was rejected just like a similar request from another Papuan leader Nicolaas Jouwe. His request for funding and firearms to the U.S. and Australia was denied.

The documents also show how Indonesian government officials looted Papua after Indonesia seized the region in 1962. It has left the region with a collapse in living standards, sparking anger that boiled over into outright rebellion.

But the most notable issue to the international community is the Indonesian government's reluctance to uphold a settlement signed with the Netherlands brokered by the U.S. and the UN. The settlement holds that West Papuan holds the right to self-determination.

Victor Yeimo, leader of pro-independence West Papua National Committee, said that the documents are 'very important' because they provide evidence of crimes against Papuans by Indonesian military and the United States' role in denying their rights to self-determination.

Victor said that the U.S. economic and political interests played a major role in West Papua colonization. Information gained from these documents shows the world and today's generation that the U.S. and Indonesia have been hand-in-hand in hiding the truth all along," Yeimo was quoted as saying by AP.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/12/11/055914014/us-discloses-documents-on-papua-independence-struggle.

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