Recently, the Indonesian Minister for Rural Development and “Transmigration”, Marwan Jafar said that he wants to increase the number of Indonesian migrants to West Papua. Referring to the transmigration project, he said: “In West Papua there is still a lot of land. Why are people not interested in going to West Papua?” Jafar said such a project “could work together with the Indonesian military and police”.
More Indonesian transmigrants to West Papua is exactly what we West Papuans DO NOT need. For the past 50 years, the Indonesian government has been shipping millions of Indonesian migrants to West Papua in an attempt to culturally and ethnically eradicate the West Papuan people. They are trying to force our country to become Indonesian. This transmigration project is a deadly threat for my people and is making us a minority in our own land. In 1971, 8 years after West Papua was invaded by Indonesia, we Papuans made up 96% of the population. But now with so many Indonesians pouring into our country, we make up only 49% of the population. My people could disappear of the face of the Earth by 2040 if this transmigration were to go on increasing year by year. This is a clear attempt by the successive Indonesian governments to try and overpopulate West Papua with Indonesians so as to prevent a Papuan nation being possible.
The comments from the transmigration minister have already been widely condemned by West Papuans and only a few days ago, the Governor of Papua has said that he completely rejected an increase of Indonesian migrants. He said: “Papuans cannot accept transmigration, obviously I reject it” Going further he stated “The influx of transmigrants would obviously make Papuans increasingly marginalized, and made foreigners in their own land.”
We Papuans know the truth behind transmigration. Every single Indonesian President who comes to power is always trying to find new ways to kill us; from sending in thousands of soldiers, to killing our livestock and once again with transmigration. The Indonesian government is trying to “Indonesianize” West Papua while at the same time trying to depopulate the country of Papuans. They have no good intentions towards our people, they are only trying to make our population even smaller in comparison to the millions of Indonesian migrants in West Papua. In 1971 there were about 1 million Melanesian people in West Papua and 2 million in Papua New Guinea. Look at the figures now. West Papuans have only just reached 1.5 million people whereas our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea have increased their population to almost 8 million people.
All of these figures show the world that the Indonesian government is deliberately trying to keep our population low but flood the country with Indonesians. This is not what we Papuans need and it is not what we are asking for. My people are only asking for the Indonesian government to give us a chance to choose whether we want to remain part of Indonesia or become independent. We are asking for our fundamental human right to self-determination; not that our country become “Indonesianized”.
My people believe that one day we will be free. West Papua will be a free nation and a good neighbour with Indonesia but this will not happen if Indonesia continues to illegally dump millions of Indonesians into West Papua to try and overpopulate us.
The message from the West Papuan people to the Indonesian government is clear. We are NOT a dumping ground for Indonesia. We do NOT want any more transmigrants. ALL we want is self-determination and freedom.