PO Box 65 Millers Point, NSW 2000
tel:552 6022, 960 1698, fax: 552 4588

Dear Friends

We would like you to accept a copy of the West Papua Information Kit.
In her introduction to "Gardens of War - Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age" in 1968, American anthropologist Dr Margaret Mead described the people of the central highlands of West Papua: "... their whole way of life is a creation - unique, evanescent, dependent for its very existence entirely on the continued practice of each generation ...", and that it was indeed "... a culture trembling on the edge of change."; Dr Mead saw that the culture of West Papua's tribal people was about to be forever transformed by contact with the outside world. The new administrators of the country were the more technologically advanced Javanese under the military government of Indonesia's President Soeharto.
The reality is that the intervening years have been catastrophic for many tribal groups in West Papua (Irian Jaya). Current resource use and social policies will ensure the irreversible destruction of the West Papuan culture and environment within a generation.
The displacement of tribal groups through the government and World Bank sponsored Transmigration program, the uncontrolled logging of the country's forest resources, and the massive extension of the Freeport mining concession area by 2.6 million hectares will continue to degrade the environment and the indigenous peoples of West Papua. A recent wave of killings and acts of intimidation by members of the Indonesian armed forces and Freeport security heralds an upsurge in the level of repression against the West Papuan community, The Australian Council For Overseas Aid (ACFOA) has recently issued a report (April 1995) titled "Trouble at Freeport" which documents eye witness accounts of current Indonesian military repression, and assesses the social situation. It was a situation described by ACFOA as being so fragile as to have the potential to "go off like a time bomb unless legitimate rights and grievances were quickly and responsibly addressed". The comparison drawn with Bougainville highlights the desperate nature of the problem.
The Australia West Papua Association, Sydney, is a non-political, non-religious association which has the objective of supporting the Papuan people in West Papua (Irian Jaya). The association works to disseminate information about the situation in West Papua. We produce a regular news bulletin and hold a resource collection. We are also engaged in practical solidarity work, collecting money for youth groups, student and health organisations, as well as the West Papuan refugees living in Papua New Guinea. We welcome enquiries or assistance from the public. The association attempts also to influence the government of Australia to change its policy of "friendship politics" towards Indonesia, and urge the immediate stop to Australian weapons export to Indonesia.
The association has contact with sister organisations in Papua New Guinea, Sweden, The Netherlands, The Philippines, UK, USA and Japan. In Australia, the association co-operates with committees for East Timor, and groups working on related problems.
We ask that you take the time to read the information, and assist in whatever way possible.

Yours sincerely
The committee members
The Australia West Papua Association, Sydney
July, 1995


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