It is with a heavy heart that I have learnt of the tragic passing of Professor Pieter Drooglever, a world renowned Dutch scholar, author and true friend of West Papua.
Professor Drooglever is a man I had known personally and he had both a brilliant mind and a wonderful heart when it came to West Papua, especially in understanding the history, situation and root cause the suffering.
In 2005, Pieter Drooglever published his acclaimed book “An Act of Free Choice”, which was commissioned by the Dutch Foreign Ministry as an impartial investigation of West Papuan self-determination. This groundbreaking book was one of the first to give a comprehensive and accurate analysis of West Papua’s history of betrayal through Indonesia’s fraudulent “act of free choice” of 1969.
Pieter described this act as we West Papuans describe it, nothing more than a sham. A “press-ganged electorate acting under a great deal of pressure appeared to have unanimously declared itself in favour of Indonesia“.
Rather than the United Nations promised referendum for all West Papuans, NOT Indonesians; Indonesia’s “act of free choice”, consisted of just 1,026 people, including Indonesians, handpicked by the Indonesian government and forced under threat of violence for Indonesian rule.
In 2003, my father was interviewed by Pieter Drooglever about being forced to vote for Indonesia during this Act of NO Choice. He presented Pieter Drooglever with a traditional West Papuan bilum bag and asked that his finished research be put into the bag when it was finished, which he kindly did.
Back in 2005, I described how Professor Drooglever’s historic report had “opened a door” for West Papua. Now in 2017, with the West Papuan People’s Petition, signed by over 1.8 million of us, we West Papuans are ready to enter this doorway for international recognition of our fundamental right to self-determination. Our historic petition was signed by over 70% of the West Papuan population, compared with Indonesia’s fraudulent Act of NO Choice, involving less than 0.2% of the population.
Professor Drooglever’s work helped so much to shine a light and provide international credibility and understanding around West Papua’s inalienable right to self-determination. He had true honor, virtue and decency and he will be deeply missed as a person who spent decades helping to tell the truth and asses the reality of the situation in West Papua amidst the lies and propaganda of the Indonesian government.
As I told Pieter; when West Papua is free, I will carry this bilum back to my people and present it as evidence of our history and legitimate struggle for self-determination. With it, I will bring his spirit and life’s work to the people of West Papua.
Farewell and Rest in Peace Professor Pieter Drooglever. Your work is now a key part of West Papua’s history and your inspiring spirit and legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of the people of West Papua. Your work has helped us greatly to move closer down the long road to freedom.
Wa wa wa.
West Papuan Independence Leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)