Activists have been imprisoned for displaying the West Papuan pro-independence Morning Star flag, and say they face discrimination and violent attacks for expressions of political views.
Now a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people calling for an independence referendum in West Papua was delivered to the UN. Activists hope the UN will send a fact finding mission to substantiate allegations of human rights abuses.
A 2004 report said “the Indonesian government has acted with the necessary intent to find that it has perpetrated genocide against the people of West Papua.” West Papua and Papua, often referred to collectively as West Papua, are the easternmost provinces of Indonesia. They have had a decades long independence struggle.
The region’s GDP per capita is significantly higher than the national average, primarily from mining. At the same time it is the most impoverished region in the country, with the highest childhood and maternal mortality rates, and the lowest literacy rates.
There have been a number of military crackdowns against the Independence movement in the region. Activists have frequently called on the UN to review the 1969 referendum that made West Papua a province of Indonesia and to investigate human rights abuses in the region.
The requests have been repeatedly rejected by the UN and Indonesia has continued to rule over the region.