Atrocities are happening on our doorstep.​

The YDLA is very concerned about the horrific human rights abuses taking place in West Papua. We are helping to spread awareness of the issue and doing what we can to help our West Papuan neighbours.

In 1949, the Dutch handed over its Dutch East Indies territory to the new Republic of Indonesia, all except the region of West Papua. The Dutch claimed that West Papua did not belong to Indonesia, due to its cultural and historical differences.

In the 1950s, the Dutch were preparing West Papua for independence.

In 1961, West Papua held a Congress at which its people declared independence, raised their new flag ‘the Morning Star’, adopted a national anthem and a constitution. Indeed, confidential reports from senior United Nations (UN) officials demonstrated their belief that “the majority of Papuans did not want to be ruled by Indonesia”.

However, under President Sukarno, Indonesia was determined to include West Papua as part of its nation. Within months, the Indonesian military invaded West Papua.



West Papua

In 1962, the New York Agreement gave control of the Dutch colony to Indonesia for 6 years, after which Indonesia was to give West Papuans the “opportunity to exercise freedom of choice” through consultations and most importantly, a referendum.

“All adults, male and female” were to be eligible to participate in a vote of self-determination, in which West Papuans would determine whether to be independent or become a part of Indonesia.

The 6 years saw well-documented cases of violence and abuse by the Indonesian military. The New York Agreement stated that the UN and Indonesia guarantee the rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and movement of the West Papuans. Rights that were not upheld.


In 1969, Indonesia conducted a referendum called "the Act of Free Choice." Only 1026 Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked to vote. Under severe duress, including threats from Indonesian military officials to cut their tongues out and kill their families, they voted to remain part of Indonesia. The UN shamefully sanctioned the result. Papuans call this referendum the "Act of No Choice".


Four years earlier in 1965, the Free Papua Movement (OPM – Organisasi Papua Merdeka) was formed, and rallies took place all over West Papua demonstrating against the referendum and against incorporation into Indonesia.


  • West Papuans have suffered at the hands of Indonesia's military regime;  since 1962 over 100,000 people have been killed or disappeared. In 1998, West Papuans in Biak were massacred by the Indonesian police and military.
  • Indonesian security forces are killing West Papuans accused of “separatism”.
  • Members of the Independent Papuan Organisation are hunted down and assassinated.
  • Thousands have been raped and tortured and entire villages - especially in the highlands - have been destroyed.
  • The Indonesian government bans journalists from travelling into West Papua, severely limiting the ability to monitor the impact of the human rights abuses occurring in West Papua.
  • The raising of the Morning Star flag is continually met with fierce resistance from the Indonesian police and military, including jail terms of up to 15 years for the "crime" of raising the flag in public.
  • Papuan cutural expression is suppressed; singing in local languages could be punishable by jail, torture, or death.


The Second Papuan Congress took place in 2000. It featured an overwhelming will “to separate from the Republic of Indonesia” and the establishment its own executive, called the Papua Presidium Council (PDP). A year later, the elected leader of the PDP, Mr Theys Eluay, was assassinated by the Indonesian military.


The Third Papuan Congress took place in 2011. President Yabolsembut proclaimed the "Federated Republic of West Papua". Five officials of the Federated Republic of West Papua, including President Yaboisembut were beaten, arrested, then tortured and charged under the Criminal Code.

In November 2011, Indonesian operation leaves 20,000 displaced, 135 villages destroyed, hundreds shot by Australian-trained Indonesian counter-terrorism troops. In December 2011, Indonesians burn down churches and villages in Puncak Jaya. In June 2012, secretary-general of the West Papua National Committee, Mako Tabuni was shot dead.

In 2006, the Howard government signed the Lombok Treaty with Indonesia, reaffirming the recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, a position held by successive Australian governments to this day.


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