International focus on crisis in West Papua

21 February 2011

An international conference on West Papua is being held at the University of Sydney on 23 and 24 February.

Comprehending West Papua aims to enhance understanding of the complex and increasingly fraught political situation in West Papua, which by turns promises change then threatens violent chaos.

The conference is hosted by the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University.

Professor Peter King, co-convenor of the conference, commenting on its aims said, "This gathering, a follow-up to one held by the West Papua Project in 2007 has the special purpose of responding to the explosive situation in our near neighbour, West Papua."

"The conference papers, followed by a book, will develop new perspectives and policy recommendations on the issue."

Papers will cover:

  • the quest, in Papua, Indonesia and abroad, for internationally mediated dialogue between Papuans and Jakarta
  • Papuan consensus that special autonomy has failed and must be 'returned' to the central government
  • the culture - music, dance and folk ways of 'Papua merdeka' (free Papua)
  • recent civil society/NGO action, including new media action against human rights abuse and military police impunity

Speakers will include:

  • Pieter Drooglever (Institute of Netherlands History, Den Haag)
  • Neles Tebay (author of Dialogue Jakarta-Papua Jayapura)
  • Otto Ondawame (West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Port Vila)
  • Bilveer Singh (National University of Singapore)
  • Akihisa Matsuno (Osaka University)
  • Andreas Harsono (Human Rights Watch, Jakarta)
  • Franzalbert Joku (Independent Group Supporting Papua within Indonesia)
  • John Braithwaite and Budi Hernawan (ANU)
  • Jacob Rumbiak and Herman Wainggai (West Papua National Authority)

The conference will explore ways forward from the situation of "two Papuas" - on one hand an indigenous society permanently mobilised to demand human rights and self-determination and on the other hand an increasingly dominant counter-society of Indonesian settlers, bureaucrats and so-called security personnel upholding the status quo.

A plenary session will petition Indonesian President Yudhoyono on international access and human rights in West Papua.

The West Papua Project has been seeking to promote peaceful dialogue between the people of West Papua and Indonesia, and to promote conflict resolution as a viable alternative to the current escalating conflict, for the past 11 years.

The West Papua Project has held numerous workshops, conferences and presentations and been instrumental in the publication of a variety of academic papers, reports and books on West Papua.

Professor Stuart Rees, Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, will launch the conference.

Pieter Drooglever (author of An Act of Free Choice), Herman Wainggai (West Papua National Authority) and others, are available for interview.

Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 9351 4312, 0419 278 715 or