AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- 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."
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."
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 Conference".
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".
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 under threat.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Kendal is the Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) http://www.worldevangelicalalliance.com. This article was initially written for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis mailing list.
Elizabeth can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.