50 Members of U.S. Congress Call Upon Obama Administration to Make
West Papua One of Its Highest Priorities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2010
CONGRESSMAN FALEOMAVAEGA AND
CONGRESSMAN PAYNE SPEARHEAD EFFORT IN U.S. CONGRESS CALLING UPON THE OBAMA
ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE WEST PAPUA ONE OF ITS HIGHEST PRIORITIES
The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global
Environment, Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, and Chairman Donald M. Payne of the
Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health have spearheaded an effort in
Congress calling upon President Obama to "make West Papua one of the highest
priorities of the Administration."
As a result of their efforts, 50 Members of the U.S. Congress signed
a letter to the President stating that there is strong indication that the
Indonesian government has committed genocide against the Papuans. West Papua
is the half of New Guinea that was invaded by Indonesia in 1962.
While Papuan leaders have repeatedly tried to engage in dialogue with
the Indonesian government, dialogues have failed to produce concrete results
and Papuan leaders are now calling for an International Dialog. In this
context, signatories of the letter have asked President Obama to meet with
the people of West Papua during his upcoming trip to Indonesia in November.
Many Members who signed the letter are members of the Congressional
Black Caucus. The signatories include men and women who fought for civil
rights in America in the 1960s. Younger politicians have also joined
this initiative to support the people of West Papua who have suffered long
In addition to the Congressional Black Caucus, many other American leaders
who are long-time advocates of human rights joined this request to the
President of the United States, including members of the Hispanic Caucus. The last remaining member of the Kennedy family in Congress, Rep. Patrick
Kennedy from Rhode Island, also signed the letter to President Obama.
The letter to the President suggests that slow motion genocide has been
taking place in West Papua and reviews findings by human rights
organizations and scholars who have conducted extensive research about
crimes against humanity and genocide by Indonesian security forces. "Genocide is usually difficult to document since leaders are often reluctant
to state their intention to destroy another nation, race, or ethnic group,"
Members of Congress wrote. "Even still, in 2007 Col. Burhanuddin Siagian,
who was then the local regional commander (DANREM) said, 'If I encounter
elements that use government facilities, but still are betraying the nation,
I will destroy them.'"
According to international agreements, other nations are legally
obligated to intervene when a genocide is in process and Members of Congress
remain hopeful that President Obama and the U.S. State Department will hold
Indonesia accountable. Members concluded their letter by encouraging the
President to meet with the Team of 100 from West Papua during his upcoming
visit, noting that President Obama has the opportunity to bring lasting
change to this part of the world.
see also West
see also Congressional Statements and Actions
on Indonesia, Timor-Leste and West Papua
Faleomavega Holds First Ever
Hearing Regarding Indonesia's Deliberate and Systematice Abuse in West Papua
(September 24, 2010)
Preliminary Transcript of
September 22, 2010 Congressional Hearing on West Papua
(September 22, 2010)