Urgent Appeal for West Papuan Students
The Indonesian Government has suddenly ceased funding for more than
400 West Papuan students studying abroad
The picture above is of West Papuan students in Adelaide, six of whom, have had their studies abruptly ended by this unexpected and undiscussed cut. It has left them in dire straights
We, the Australian West Papua Association- South Australia (AWPA SA) is assisting them to remain in Australia and complete their studies so that they don’t waste the many years they have put into their tertiary education.
The students were suddenly told that the funding had ceased and they had to return to West Papua. This has a huge impact on their education plus current and future earning potential.
We have so far helped them out with two weeks rent and working towards providing assistance with food and other necessities. They have also received some support through The Pacific Islands Council of SA Inc.
While they are busy negotiating with the Universities and exploring visa options there is an urgent need to help them with food and accommodation until they can find part time work and get up on their own feet.
Accommodation is the most urgent need.
We are hoping that there are supporters out there who might be able to have some temporary boarders or house guests in their homes until they find longer term housing.
If you are able to help in this area please contact Dave Arkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or phone mobile 0408345593 or home 08 83454480 to discuss the situation.
AWPA SA and the students have arranged to speak to the Universities and are urging them to allow the students to finish their studies so that they are not deported.
This advocacy seems to have had some success in NZ already. See separate story.
We are also seeking financial assistance. We will be setting up a Crowd funding website with a Pay button in the next day or two so that we can put in on social media nationwide and we ask all supporters to share this within their networks.
In the meantime people can donate by
Direct Debit to
Australia West Papua Association- SA
BSB 105116 account no 59634740
Please email email@example.com to advise us of the payment.
There were at least 400 Papuan students receiving scholarships abroad, comprising 25 students in Australia, 77 in New Zealand, five in Japan, 250 in the US and Canada, 38 in Russia, and five in Germany. Of this figure, Yan Wenda, President of Papua Students Association of Oceania said, there were 84 students in the US and 41 in New Zealand who had received an email from the Papua Provincial Government that they would soon be repatriated to Papua.
These students are part way, some very near, to completion of their studies and will lose all their years of effort if they can’t finish their courses.
Why has this happened
“It appears to me that the explanation for the cancellation of the sponsorship program is to limit West Papuan students from travelling around the world, disseminating information about the actual situation in WP and possibly garnering support. It is also not in the interests of Indonesia to have educated Papuans.”
Says Dr Jim Elmslie Convenor of the West Papua Project at University of Wollongong
He further writes
The problem has its genesis in a law enacted last year in Indonesia, Law no.21/2021 Papua’s Special Autonomy Law (OTSUS). This was a follow up from the original Special Autonomy Law of 2001 which was designed as a concession to Papuans who were (overwhelmingly) calling for independence for Indonesia. It was a watered down version of their demands but still gave the Papuans certain rights and control over some funds. From that emerged the foreign sponsorship education scheme that aimed to produce a group of educated Papuans. It also gave the Papuans a veto over the creation of more provinces in West Papua.
OTSUS mark 1 had a 20 year term which expired last year. The Indonesian government implemented OTSUS mark 2 with no input from Papuan leaders, in fact in the face of staunch opposition from all Papuan civil society groups and churches including the umbrella organization, the West Papuan Council of Churches (WPCC). This is because OTSUS mark 2 removed any control the Papuans had over their lives and future. Specifically it removed the Papuan veto on the creation of new provinces. The Melanesian area known locally and globally as ‘West Papua’ had already been split into two Indonesian provinces: West Papua and Papua provinces. The Indonesian government has now announced that they intend to create four (or possibly six) new provinces in West Papua. This will entail the establishment of six government administrations; six new military, intelligence and police commands; open up vast still relatively untouched areas to development in the form of logging and mining, and facilitate the influx of literally millions of Indonesian migrants. The WPCC has stated that this will lead to the disappearance of the Papuan people as a distinct population and are calling it genocide. There have been mass demonstrations by Papuans against OTSUS mark 2, which are continuing now and multiple people have been shot dead. There is also an international campaign against OTSUS mark two which is also playing out in the UN.
There has been a small scale civil war in WP since its forcible take over by Indonesia in 1962/3. Since 2018 this has dramatically increased as a new generation of West Papua fighters take up the struggle. Indonesia has responded by sending many thousands of soldiers to the region and there are now more than 60,000 internally displaced refugees as the Indonesian military indiscriminately bomb and attack villages in six regencies. Part of the war is to halt the flow of information and foreign journalists have long been banned from the region while local journalists operate in dangerous and highly restricted circumstances. The main flow of information is from the various church networks who have representatives on the ground.
Secretary AWPA SA
Below are links to several recent articles that background the situation facing WP students in New Zealand, Australia and also all around the world.
Show the West Papuans the same compassion as the Ukrainians
23 Mar, 2022 08:34 AM