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West Papua presses for a Green State Vision

Bonny Kaiyo
Bonny Kaiyo - "The Green State Vision will make ecocide a serious criminal offence"


PORT MORESBY - The wealthy countries of the world have agreed on a 'Green State Vision’ at COP26, which ends in Glasgow today.

Indonesia signed up and now has the hard task of navigating what this means for itself and especially West Papua.

It is the restive province of West Papua that carries the bulk of Indonesia’s forest richness, which the country has now ratified and agreed to protect.

The Green State Vision entails recognition of Indigenous peoples and their environmental protection practices.

Needless to say, the Indigenous people of West Papua are right behind it.

Indeed, the vision constitutes an important part of their long-standing demand for independence from Indonesia, which was handed to Indonesia in 1962.

Last year the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULM) declared itself a government-in-waiting and declared exiled leader Benny Wenda as interim president.

"In West Papua, we’re facing a genocide and an ecocide," Wenda said. "They are destroying our land, our environment, in the name of development."

The government-in-waiting hopes to create the world’s first green state if independence is achieved.

Bonny - WP protest
The West Papuan people are strong proponents of the Green State Vision which would impose limitations on reckless resource exploitation

ULM launched its Green State Vision at COP26 in a small marquee a few hundred metres away from the conference halls where wealthy nations used flashy pavilions to try to convince the world of their environmental credentials.

"In recent years we’ve seen huge numbers of palm oil companies coming into West Papua, with the support of the Indonesian government,” said Raki Ap. “The result is the destruction of ancient rainforest."

The island of New Guinea is home to the world’s third-largest treasure of rainforest and other natural resources that have made it an attractive destination for mining and fossil fuel companies.

West Papua is half that island and home to the giant Grasberg mine, the world's largest reserve of gold and second-largest reserve of copper. The mine has caused extensive damage to the region's ecosystem.

The Green State Vision if formalised and implemented will make ecocide a serious criminal offence. It will also ensure that extraction companies adhere to international environmental standards or be forced to cease operations.

Also under the plan, guardianship of natural resources will be restored to Indigenous groups.

"Indigenous peoples know how to preserve nature,” said Ap.

West Papua did not have an official seat at COP26 and talks with official participants have been limited.

Instead, the group's leaders spoke with grassroots environmental activists, hoping to gain public support for their vision.

"It's all about peace, justice and harmony with nature, our culture and our identity," said Wenda.

"We want to set an example to the world. We are ready to govern ourselves and set an example for the rest of humanity."


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Arthur Williams

11 Soldiers sent to Telefomin border region (The National, 27 Oct 2021):

"On the spot is RPNGC Police Sergeant Terry Dap one of a handful of policemen in the entire Telefomin district covering 16,333 sq km and with a population of around 50,000.

"He said a lot of people had come across to Tumolbil in recent weeks, including OPM fighters. There’s a fight going on, on the other side, between the Indonesians and the West Papuan freedom fighters. So there’s a lot of disruption there [in Tumolbil].

"So I went there, and I talked to the ward development officer of Yapsie LLG [Local Level Government area], and he said he needed immediate assistance from the authorities in Vanimo [capital of West Sepik].

"They want military and police, to protect the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea, and to protect properties to make sure the fight doesn’t come into PNG. Sergeant Dap said he had emailed the provincial authorities with this request, and was awaiting feedback.

"Sergeant Dap continued some of the people coming across from West Papua have traditional or family links to the community of Tulmolbil but their presence on PNG soil creates risk for locals who are fearful their communities could get caught in the crossfire of Indonesian military pursuing the Papuan fighters.

"Sgt. Dap said he spoke with the OPM fighters who had come to Tumolbil, and encouraged them not to stay long.

“I’ve talked to their commander. They said there’s another group of people coming – about one thousand-plus coming in,” he said.

“I told them, just stay for some days and then you go back, because this is another country, so you don’t need to come in. You go back to your own country and then stay there.”

This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report 8 and was authored by the APR editor.

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