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11 September 2019

"We are not monkeys" - West Papuans demand self-determination in London

James Ivens, East London Socialist Party

Dozens of West Papuan protesters and supporters demonstrated outside the Indonesian embassy on 7 September against state repression of the independence movement.

Indonesian military officers have been filmed calling Papuans "monkeys," and protesters carrying the West Papuan flag face arbitrary arrest. Speakers in London demanded a self-determination referendum, release of prisoners, and an end to racism and violence.

A Socialist Party member from East Timor, a former colony of Indonesia, expressed solidarity with the Papuan struggle.

Other Socialist Party speakers proposed strikes to help win the movement's demands, and appeals to unions in Indonesia for solidarity action. The Indonesian capitalist establishment keeps both ordinary Papuans and ordinary Indonesians in dire poverty.

Papua's forests, copper mines and gold mines are very profitable, so the Indonesian state will not grant independence willingly. Strikes in these sectors would have real power. Forming strike committees and local defence committees could allow workers to resist repression and build for a referendum.

Liberating West Papua requires breaking the power of the local, colonial and international owners. This would have to include nationalising natural resources under democratic workers' control and management.

Workers in Britain can help by fighting for mass action to bring down the Tories and usher in a pro-worker, Corbyn-led government amenable to Papuan self-determination.