Open letter to Hillary Clinton

Letters, Normal

AS a grassroot Melanesian, originally from West Papua, now a naturalised citizen of this great country, PNG, I wish within the ambit of freedom of expression to air the following points on behalf of the majority of the West Papuans both at home and diaspora. We want injustices (political, social, legal and economic) that have been unjustly inflicted upon our land and its people over the past 40-plus years to be uncovered and rectified.
The integration of West Papua into Indonesia in 1969 through the so-called Act of“Free” Choice was a fallacy. The implementation of it did not reflect the spirit of clause (d) of Article 18 of the 1962 New York Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia on the peaceful settlement of the West Papua (West New Guinea) conflict. This agreement was brokered and sanctioned by the US and sanitised by the UN in 1962.
The clause called for a one-man-one-vote Indonesia instead hand picked 1,025 to“represent” 800,000 Melanesians. According to US Congressional Research Service (US CRS) declassified documents released in 2004, between 85 and 90% of indigenous Melanesians (West Papuans) opposed Indonesian rule. Had a free vote conducted in 1969, West Papua would have attained her independence.
The US government (under then Nixon administration) rubber-stamped Indonesian takeover simply to pave the way for such mining companies as Freeport to extract vast wealth from Papua. Our rights had therefore been trampled with at the expense of US socio-political, cultural and economic agenda in Indonesia, particularly in Papua.
Both churches and resistance movements in Papua and abroad want justice to be restored. An amicable and sustainable solution on the protracted conflict between Jakarta and Papua must be found. This can be achieved through either a fresh referendum or at the conference table through international mediation.
We call upon UN, US and the Netherlands and European Union and Australia to facilitate any of these two approaches to materialise.
We do not wish to be further marginalised culturally, socially, politically and economically by the continued presence and occupation of the Indonesian regime on our soil.
Hundreds, even thousands of widows, have suffered over the years due to the brutality and corrupt practices of Jakarta’s iron hand (in practice“smiling”) policy. There exists a culture of impunity where certain members of the arm forces have never been prosecuted for various forms and shapes of human rights abuses committed in Papua over the years.
Madam Hillary Clinton, (if you do reschedule your visit to PNG), please co-operate with your fellow democrats in the US Congress including Donald Pyne and Faleomavaega in ensuring that justice is done to us. Please lend your ears to our cries from the Western Pacific Shores. I pray that you will have a fruitful engagement and outcome on your rescheduled state visit in our region.


Clemens Runawery,
Port Moresby, PNG