This center explores nonviolent resistance to a repressive, colonizing government, focusing on views expressed by the people of West Papua.
West Papua is a land with around 300 different languages and is home to ancient cultures including the oldest cultivating society in history. Yet its future is not secure and it faces critical risks. Prior to the first Indonesian military invasion on 19 December 1961, code-named Trikora, there was a balanced ecosystem of flora and fauna co-existing with humans. There were stunning birds of paradise flying over natural forests and shallow coral reefs, coastal swamps and alpine glaciers. Since the occupation the beauty of West Papua has been increasingly lost or put in jeopardy.
For nearly sixty years the resistance to Indonesian occupation has taken various forms. The nonviolent civil resistances campaign has employed a variety of tactics including unarmed opposition, public demonstrations by students and other community groupings, celebrations of national identity with flag raisings, pronouncements of an independent nation, clandestine nonviolent resistance groups, public rallies (during which authorities incarcerate dissidents), voluntary exile by political organizers, songs of defiance in the mother-tongues of the different tribes, promotion and retention of national identity and resistance to the colonial power through the stories told to the children and to the grandchildren in each home and in each village throughout West Papua.
The goal for the resistance is to operate consistently within a framework that can maximize mobilization of West Papuans, and simultaneously minimize their risks. West Papuans describes their ideology of civil resistance with the metaphor of the woman, bearer of children; Although her body bleeds, she is still able to survive and deliver a new life into the world.
Despite this vast array of evidence of West Papuan commitment to freedom, against the backdrop of intense suffering and deprivation, the international community has been deaf to the call of the people for recognition of their struggle. Like other nations, West Papuans search for democracy, justice, freedom and equality, but West Papua continues to be haunted by what has been called a ‘memoria passionis’, or a collective ‘memory of suffering. The ongoing conflicts, however, inspire West Papuans to endeavor to solve their ‘memoria passionis’ through non-violence rooted in the ancient wisdom and profundity of their culture. In this way their claims can be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international conventions.