Declassified US Files about Papua a Gift for Indonesia

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    Papuans display "Morning Star" separatist flags during a protest commemorating the 50th year since Indonesia took over West Papua from Dutch colonial rule in 1963, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Prominent Papuans pleaded for the U.S. to give them money and arms in the mid-1960s to fight Indonesia's colonization of their vast remote territory, according to recently declassified American files that show the birth of an independence struggle that endures half a century later. AP Photo/Gembong Nusantara

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Human Rights lawyer Veronica Koman considers the declassified US files on the history of the Papua independence struggle as a gift for Indonesia.

    “This is a gift for Indonesia as a nation, which means that it is a historical political debt that must be solved,” Veronica told Tempo on Tuesday, December 12.

    According to Veronica, the documents issued by the US reopened one of Indonesia’s dark pasts, especially regarding human rights violation. She argues that it is similar to the alleged human rights violation of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) massacre in September
    30, 1965.

    Read: Police Military Prioritize Negotiation with Papua Insurgent

    “The files’ declassification means that Indonesia has two historical debts that must be solved,” she said.

    The Papua independence struggle files state that in 1967, before the Pepera referendum, Indonesian military forces conducted a human rights violation by massacring 1,000-2,000 indigenous Papuans. The massacre was said to be retaliation after two Indonesian military personnel were injured by Papuans.

    “They shot on Papuans who walked past, that is clearly a war crime,” said Veronica.

    The US files also suggest that in 1960, the people of Papua asked the United States to fund Papuans with firearms to fight the Indonesian military. The files also documented the complaints of Papuans clashing with the Indonesian security forces.

    Read: US Discloses Documents on Papua Independence Struggle

    Veronica hopes that the Indonesian government will be able to solve the case if it truly contains elements of human rights violation. She also suggests that the government must publicly apologize for past mistakes. She argues that the root cause of the conflicts in Papua can be traced back to the exact conflict.

    Meanwhile, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician and member of House of Representatives Charles Honoris said that society does not need to overreact in responding to the declassified files on Papua. He reasons that the files are packed with subjective views of the US Government in Indonesia at the time.

    M Yusuf Manurung