West Papua

Papuan woman, Wamena © Meriam Smith

Our main issues of concern in West Papua are Freedom of Expression, Torture, Human Rights Defenders, and Business and Human Rights. Since 2011, we have been working on the Papuans Behind Bars project, which collects and publishes data on political prisoners and supports the local and national campaign to end the punishment of peaceful political activities.

We continue to monitor the human rights situation; raise awareness at the national and international levels; translate and disseminate information; provide research and policy briefings; and initiate advocacy and campaigning activities.

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, which borders independent Papua New Guinea. It became part of Indonesia following a discredited process known as the ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969, and comprises the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. TAPOL uses the term 'West Papua' to refer to the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, as a region with a common culture and identity. Its population of 3.6 million includes over 250 ethnic and language groups. The influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants from heavily-populated islands of Indonesia, however, means that indigenous Papuans are rapidly becoming a minority in their own homeland. 

Papuan resistance to Indonesian rule and multinational exploitation of the rich natural resources of the territory have provided the backdrop to decades of widespread human rights abuses, environmental damage, violence and instability. While the Papuan people have yet to enjoy the right to self-determination, Papuan civil society continues to struggle for peace, justice, democracy and freedom.

TAPOL does not advocate any particular political solution to the West Papua problem, but supports the right of the Papuan people to peacefully express their political aspirations and assert their universal rights, including the right to self-determination.