By: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
If present demographic trends continue, West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) will
be majority Indonesian (mostly Javanese) Muslim by 2011, and the indigenous
Melanesian predominantly Protestant Christian Papuans will be a dwindling 15
percent minority by 2030. This was recently forecast in a conference at the
University of Sydney (NSW, Australia) by Political Scientist Dr Jim Elmslie of
the West Papua Project, which is based at the University of Sydney Centre for
Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS).
Dr Elmslie also notes however that this forecast may prove unduly optimistic
as it does not take into account the escalating HIV-AIDS infection rate
amongst the Papuans or their declining population growth rate. In other words,
the annihilation of the Papuans may be even more imminent than the demographic
trends suggest. (Note: The Indonesian military introduced AIDS into the Papuan
population by bringing in AIDS-infected Javanese prostitutes which they
establish in Papuan villages and frequently use as currency.)
The issue of the decline in the Papuan population growth rate warrants further
investigation and will possibly be the subject of a WEA RLC News & Analysis
posting early in 2008. Several sources attest that Indonesia is targeting
UN-funded family planning programs at the Papuan population, particularly in
sensitive areas such as around the Freeport mine and in other areas slated for
clearing and development.
According to Dr Elmslie, highland Papuans who allegedly have gonorrhoea are
being treated in UN-funded family planning clinics -- but not for gonorrhoea.
They are being injected instead with long-term contraceptive drugs. As Dr
Elmslie notes, this goes some way to explaining why the 1.67 percent
population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans in West Papua is so much lower
in than over the 2.6 percent population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans
over the border in Papua New Guinea (PNG). (Meanwhile, the growth rate for the
non-Papuan population in West Papua is 10.5 percent.)
In the highlands of Papua, where maternal and family health services and
pharmacies are virtually non-existent, it is tragic that the UN would focus
its efforts on controlling and limiting rather than serving and treasuring
humanity. And of course, it is not difficult to imagine how such a program
could be exploited.
Meanwhile, the issue of the genocide of the predominantly Christian Papuans
must become an issue of urgency for the Church. The governments of the USA,
Britain and Australia, as well as other nations and bodies such as the UN,
have geo-political and economic interests that pull them towards a preference
for the status quo, regardless of consequences. By their action and inaction
they are complicit and find the truth and immorality surrounding the betrayal
and genocide of a Christian people a most inconvenient truth indeed. The
Church must act by making Papua a prayer priority and such an advocacy
priority that the Papuans (like the South Sudanese and Iraq's Assyrians)
become a domestic political issue that cannot be ignored. Indonesia must
respect Papua's Special Autonomy status, and aggressive colonisation,
militarisation and Islamisation must end.
As Dr Elmslie notes in his paper, the Genocide Convention of 1951 defines
genocide as that which is "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in
part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" (Article II), and those
interested in maintaining the status quo will focus on the word "intent" in
order to argue that if intent cannot be proved then genocide cannot be claimed.
The issue of intent however has no bearing on the reality or outcome. As Dr
Elmslie argues, semantics about whether or not there is "intent" should not
stop the international community from recognising that an immense tragedy is
unfolding in Papua, gross human rights abuses are occurring and the Papuans
are being annihilated.
The most decisive statement to date on the subject of genocide in West Papua
has come from the Allard K Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic Yale
Law School, which in 2005 published a paper entitled "Indonesian Human Rights
Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of
Indonesian Control." (Link 1)
Quoting from page 72: "Although no single act or set of acts can be said to
have constituted genocide, per se, and although the required intent cannot be
as readily inferred as it was in the cases of the Holocaust or the Rwandan
genocide, there can be little doubt that the Indonesian government has engaged
in a systematic pattern of acts that has resulted in harm to -- and indeed the
destruction of -- a substantial part of the indigenous population of West Papua.
"The inevitability of this result was readily obvious, and the government has
taken no active measures to contravene. According to current understanding of
the Genocide Convention, including its interpretation in the jurisprudence of
the ad hoc international criminal tribunals, such a pattern of actions and
inactions -- of acts and omissions --supports the conclusion that the
Indonesian government has acted with the necessary intent to find that it has
perpetrated genocide against the people of West Papua."
PAPUA: GENOCIDE BY DEMOGRAPHICS
The West Papua Project, based at the University of Sydney (NSW, Australia)
Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), "seeks to promote peaceful
dialogue between the people of West Papua and Indonesia, and to promote
conflict resolution as a viable alternative to the current and escalating
conflict." (Link 2)
On 9-10 August, Indonesian Solidarity in association with the West Papua
Project (CPACS) organised a conference entitled "West Papua 2007: Paths to
Justice and Prosperity". The papers presented at that conference are available
on the West Papua Project website (link 2) under the heading "West Papua
All those who are concerned about the future of the predominantly Protestant
Christian West Papuans would be interested in these papers.
The following is an excerpt from Dr Jim Elmslie's paper, "West Papua:
Genocide, Demographic Change, the Issue of 'Intent', and the
Australia-Indonesia Security Treaty". (Link 3: direct link)
EXCERPT: DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION IN WEST PAPUA
By Dr Jim Elmslie
Over the last 43 years in West Papua there have been many killings;
disappearances; land expropriations and repressive Indonesian government
policies that have severely affected the demographics of the province. . .
In 1971 there were 887,000 'Irian born' (Papuan) people in West Papua and
36,000 'non-Irian born' (Asian Indonesians), out of a total population of
923,000. This meant that, even after eight years of Indonesian control,
Papuans comprised 96% of the population in 1971.
Thereafter the distinction between Irian born and non-Irian became less
relevant as, obviously, children of non-Irian born migrants were Irian born. I
have derived the figure for the Papuan population in the 1990 census by
dividing the population into those who speak Bahasa Indonesia as a 'mother
tongue' and those who do not. This is because the census does not record the
racial profile of the province. On this basis there were 1,215,897 Papuans and
414,210 non-Papuans in 1990 out of a total population of 1,630,107. Papuans
comprised 74.6% of the total and non-Papuans 25.4%.
The growth in the Papuan population from 887,000 to 1,215,897 during the
period from 1971 to 1990 represents an annual growth rate of 1.67%. Assuming
that this growth rate continued to 2005, the latest figures released by the
Indonesian Statistics Office, the Papua population would be 1,558,795 out of a
total population of 2,646,48914 and the non-Papuan population 1,087,694. This
means that Papuans comprised 59% of the population and non-Papuans 41% in 2005.
This analysis shows that the Papuan population has diminished as a proportion
of the population from 96% to 59%, and the non-Papuan increased from 4% to
41%. This represents a growth in the Papuan population from 887,000 to
1,558,795 for the period 1971 to 2005, or 75.7%. By contrast the non-Papuan
sector of the population has increased from 36,000 to 1,087,694, a growth of
3021% or more than 30 times. This represents an annual growth rate in the
non-Papuan population of 10.5% from 1971 to 2005.
Using the two growth rates for the Papuan and non-Papuan populations, 1.67%
and 10.5% respectively, we can predict future population growth and relative
percentages of the two groups. By 2011 out of a total population of 3.7
million, Papuans would be a minority of 47.5% at 1.7 million and non-Papuans a
majority at 1.98 million, or 53.5%. This non-Papuan majority will increase to
70.8% by 2020 out of a population of 6.7 million. By 2030 Papuans will
comprise just 15.2% of a total population of 15.6 million, while non-Papuans
will number 13.2 million, or 84.8%. This may be an unduly optimistic forecast
for the Papuan population as the current HIVAIDS epidemic is firmly
established in that population group and could have an African-style impact,
cutting numbers and growth rates even further.
Besides the relative decline of the Papuans as a percentage of the population
they have also enjoyed a much lower growth rate than a very similar Melanesian
Papuan population across the border in Papua New Guinea. Here the population
has been growing at 2.6% per annum since independence in 1975. PNG acts almost
as a control population when examining Papuan growth rates as the indigenous
people on both sides of the border are closely related and settled in
societies that had, until very recently, been self-contained for thousands of
years. If the Papuans under Indonesian control had enjoyed the same growth
rate as those in independent Papua New Guinea, 2.6%, their population would be
2,122,921, or 564,126 more than it was in 2005. This demographic discrepancy
can be attributed to Indonesian rule.
Thus from a position of comprising 96% of the total population in 1971,
Papuans will be a small and dwindling minority within a generation or two.
This will have great consequences for Papua New Guinea as Indonesian
military/business groups engage ever more deeply in that country, particularly
in the logging and retail industries. With the increasing militarisation of
West Papua, particularly in the border regions, PNG's own security may come
Dr Elmslie fears the situation in West Papua, where Asian Muslims are
completely dominating the military, education and business realms and where
two distinct peoples are increasingly on a collision course, is heading toward
a "large scale, copybook genocide in the near future. With 'intent'."
This has been the fear of Papuans and religious liberty observers for some
time. The Indonesian military (TNI), through barbaric killings and other acts
of terror, is constantly attempting to provoke the Papuans into a response or
a rebellion that would then provide the TNI with a pretext for wide-scale
massacres in the name of curtailing the separatist threat and defending
Indonesian security and sovereignty.
Papuan church leaders, who are the primary source of leadership for the
Papuans, are doing a phenomenal job of keeping the traumatised Papuans
restrained, committed to non-violence, and focused on God in hope. They will
undoubtedly inherit a peace prize from the Lord when they meet him. Meanwhile
the TNI is busy not only provoking but manipulating and exploiting naive
Papuan patriots by arming them and sending them to kill -- as was the case in
the August 2002 Freeport mine incident (see link 4).
In such an explosive environment, "peace" (as in the absence of wide-scale
slaughter) can not be taken for granted. An outrageous but very convenient
(for some) holocaust is only a spark away.
1) Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of
Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control.
A paper prepared for the Indonesia Human Rights Network
By the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic Yale Law School
2) West Papua Project
3) West Papua: Genocide, Demographic Change, the Issue of 'Intent', and the
Australia-Indonesia Security Treaty. By Dr. Jim Elmslie.
4) Papua: Indonesia, the TNI and the USA.
By Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC, 2 March 2007
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