Threats against family of exiled activist . . .
The family of prominent Indonesian human rights lawyer, Veronica Koman, received threats and a package containing explosives in their Jakarta home on Sunday. The package detonated without causing any injuries. Koman gained international recognition for defending individuals involved in the independence movement for West Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province. She has continued this work since going into exile in Australia in 2019, when the Indonesian police charged her with spreading fake news and inciting violence on social media for reporting on police abuse during pro-independence and anti-racism demonstrations in West Papua.
Situation in West Papua remains explosive . . .
West Papua has been part of Indonesia since 1962, when the Netherlands handed the territory to the newly independent country. A controversial referendum in 1969 – where less than one per cent of Papuans participated and felt coerced into voting for integration – cemented West Papua’s annexation by Indonesia. Since then, Papuans have advocated for self-determination primarily through peaceful demonstrations, international appeals, and civil disobedience. However, Indonesian armed forces have clashed with some pro-independence groups. Recent violence has displaced thousands of civilians, many fleeing to neighbouring Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Indonesian Air Force has also reportedly bombed villages suspected of housing insurgents, further displacing people into the Bintang Mountains in West Papua and into PNG.
Proposal for a greener West Papua . . .
While West Papua is rich in mining and forestry resources, it remains among the poorest jurisdictions in Indonesia. West Papuans argue that recent infrastructure investments headed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and resource extraction projects by domestic and foreign companies have failed to alleviate poverty or deliver on the promise of inclusive development. Instead, they have destroyed the environment, further cutting off Indigenous Papuans from their traditional homes and livelihoods. To further support its pro-independence advocacy, The United Liberation Movement for West Papua, a self-appointed ‘government in waiting’ for the restive province, published a Green State Vision document in response to the ongoing COP26 meetings. The document sets ambitious environmental and conservation efforts, such as significant reductions to ore and timber extraction operations active in the territory were it to gain self-rule.