Once upon a time many, many moons ago I was a Youth Officer in the British Red Cross and had many wonderful opportunities including representing British Youth at a youth camp in Sweden and a cahance to go to their HQ in Geneva. I have since then continued an interest in that organisation and it's important work.
A while back I was concerned to learn that the Red Cross had to close their office in West Papua in May and have as yet been unable to reopen.
Photo: West Papua flag flown in Stroud - see below for links to previous posts
A new petition has just been launched regarding the expulsion - I would ask you to consider signing it:
Here is what the petition says: West Papua is one of the poorest areas in Indonesia where most of the people live at subsistence level with appalling health, welfare and education problems. This despite its vast reserves of copper, gold, oil, gas, and virgin hardwood forests. None of the profit from plundering these resources goes to the people of West Papua. We support the West Papuans in their right to self determination to decide their own future. However, there is an excessively high number of Indonesian troops and military style police (estimates range between 12,000 - 30,000; we are unable to confirm these numbers due to lack of transparency) stationed in this region. There is no open and free access to the country.
The Red Cross is an impartial independent organisation with an exclusive humanitarian mission. Since 1949 the Red Cross has had an international mandate conferred on it by the Geneva Conventions, which task the ICRC with visiting prisoners, organising relief operations, re-uniting separated families and similar humanitarian activities during armed conflicts. The Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement encourage these organisations to undertake similar work in situations of internal violence, where the Geneva Conventions do not apply.
As I said on the petition site "that an impartial and independent organisation like the Red Cross should be forced to shut is a deeply worrying development and a move that deserves widespread outrage from the international community."
Also of interest is John Pilger's recent comment on West Papua in the New Statesman, which finishes with mention of the annual demonstration on December 1st at the Indonesian embassy in London, what should be West Papua's anniversary of independence:
See West Papua campaign in Stroud here, here and Independence Leader in Stroud here.
From the Free West Papua site:
Previously a Dutch colony along with the islands that now make up Indonesia, West Papua remained under Dutch control when the Republic of Indonesia became an independent nation state in 1949. The Dutch government began preparing West Papua for independence throughout the 1950s. At the end of 1961, West Papua held a Congress at which its people declared independence, and raised their new flag - the Morning Star.
Within months the dream was dead: the Indonesian military invaded West Papua and conflict broke out between the Netherlands, Indonesia and the indigenous population regarding control of the country. The US intervened and engineered an agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, which in 1962 gave control of West Papua to the United Nations and one year later transferred control to Indonesia. The Papuans were never consulted. However, the agreement did promise them their right to self determination - a right which is guaranteed by the UN to everyone on Earth.