Settler-colony – the logic of ‘destroy to replace’
Indonesia’s occupation in West Papua is not temporary — they are not simply taking resources and going home. The Indonesians want to make West Papua their permanent home.
This is a permanent population resettlement colonial project based on the logic of destroy to replace. Papuans are being destroyed — and even worse, they are being replaced by Indonesian settlers. They are powerless to stop the annihilation and perversion of their ancestral homelands.
To occupy and own the land is the ultimate goal of settlers. Settler states aim to eradicate Indigenous societies through what an Australian historian and scholar, Patrick Wolfe, refers to as a the “logic of elimination” in his paper, Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native (2006).
Colonialism through population resettlement is the most destructive form of colonial project underpinned by self-righteous, pathological rationality which exterminates the original inhabitants as a moral requirement to justify the process of replacing itself.
In this pathological project, genocide is not considered evil but a necessity to achieve its exterminating objective. That is why the assassination of Theys H. Eluay just three weeks after the passing of the Special Autonomy Law was perhaps seen as a necessary evil to satisfy this colonial project.
West Papua: not just another one of Indonesia’s provinces
Over the past 60 years, virtually all literature ever produced on West Papua failed to refer to it as a settler colony. The region is still treated as if it were just another province of Indonesia, and Jakarta insist on creating more provinces as if they have legal and moral rights. This is misleading and illegal considering Indonesia’s genocidal actions and the circumstances in which the region was incorporated into Indonesia in the 1960s.
Indonesia did not merely incorporate West Papua; it invaded an independent state by military force supported by Western governments by manipulating the UN’s system.
Our continued use of West Papua as a part of Indonesia has distorted our understanding of the nature of the Indonesianisation programme being carried out there.
We need to scrutinise Jakarta’s activities on West Papua’s soil with a settler-colonial lens. This will help us frame our questions and structure our languages differently regarding Indonesian activities in West Papua.
It will also help us to see how West Papua is being destroyed under settler colony, similar to how European colonisation destroyed Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada.
We need to frame any administration centres of any type, whether religious, political, cultural, educational, legal, social or security forces established on West Papuan soil with a settler-colonial lens.
This will allow us to see how Jakarta created these parasitic colonial spaces camouflaged as province and regency to occupy, expand, and eventually exterminate its original inhabitants.
The settler-colonial system is a structure that facilitates this whole extermination project. Replacing one landscape for another, one people for another, one language for another, one system for another.
In light of this, it would appear that any law, policy, decree, regulation, or project enacted and enforced by Jakarta serves the purpose of eradicating the Papuan population from the land and replacing them with Indonesian settlers.
This has been done in Australia, America, Canada, and New Zealand, and now these Western powers are aiding Indonesia to do the same in West Papua.
Physically and psychologically, these new provinces (whether materialised or not) have become new battlefields in the war on Papuans. Indeed, Papuans are being forced onto these battle grounds, as in Rome’s Colosseums, to fight for their lives.
The most tragic outcome for Papuans is going to be Jakarta pitting brother against brother and sister against sister in Indonesian’s controlled colosseum of vile games. The blood of these young Papuans that was shed in Yahukimo during the recent demonstration, shows how Papuans are paying the ultimate price in this theatre of killing.
A way forward
Let the same mechanism of the UN that was used to betray West Papua 60 years ago be used to deliver overdue justice for the Papuan people.
United States of America, the Netherlands, Indonesia and their allies of all kinds — thieves, criminals, thugs, militias and multinational bandits who betrayed the Papuan people and continue to drain them of their natural resources must take responsibility for their crimes against Papuans.
Countless of Resolutions on West Papuan human rights issues that have been written on paper in the offices of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (ACP), UN Human Rights Council (UNHC), and European Union (EU) must be materialised to end this tragic and unjust war Papuans are forced to face on their own.
These institutions need to unite and put their words into actions if they place any value on human life.
If no action is taken in these resolutions, their words only serve the imperial purposes, such as these meaningless words used in the Law 21/2001 on Special Autonomy, providing false hope to deceive people whose lives and lands are already at stake. Please read the full report here: How colonial puppeteer Indonesia uses ‘autonomy’ to disempower Papuans | Asia Pacific Report