“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.” – Bertolt Brecht
The second largest island in the world after Greenland, New Guinea is considered rich in natural resources, including copper, gold and timber. It is often called the other “lungs of the planet”, after the Amazon, because of its rich biodiveristy and dense rainforest. But that reputation is fast fading as it is rapaciously plundered by multinational corporations from Australia, the US and Europe with the assistance of their client state, Indonesia. And along with environmental devastation, a slow genocide is sweeping West Papua.
The Indonesian government has a long history of playing henchman for the west in that region of the world. It has proved itself worthy of this distinction after committing atrocities on its own people. It is estimated that somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million Indonesians were murdered in the American backed genocide of 1965-66 that installed the brutal Suharto dictatorship.
Indonesia annexed West New Guinea in 1969, following the exit of the Dutch colonists, with the support and backing of the west and a subservient United Nations. Since then the Indonesian military, with direct support from the Australian government, has raped, tortured and massacred upwards of 100,000 to 500,000 Papuans , while ethnically cleansing them from their land with Indonesian settlements. Harrowing and gruesome videos and images have made their way into social media that show the brute violence and cruelty being meted out by the army on civilians. The reason that it can get away with this heinous slaughter is a story told many times the world over. But unlike other cases, this one has been obscured and hushed in the mainstream media. One can only guess that it is because of the special relationship Indonesia enjoys with the west or, more accurately, western corporations.
Meanwhile the situation in West Papua grows more urgent. When Indonesia crushed and massacred the East Timorese for nearly 25 years, with the backing of the US government and go ahead from Henry Kissinger, the media turned its head away. People of conscience cannot allow them to do the same to the Papuans. If they do, it is up to us to do their job.
Kenn Orphan 2014
(Photo is of the Indonesian army’s assault on a meeting of the West Papau congress. It is from a leaked video that shows Indonesian soldiers brutally beating peaceful attendees and forcing them to crawl. It is courtesy of the AFP)