Direct actions in solidarity with the people of West Papua

Three short articles from Black Flag #219 (2000).

An area almost the size of England is to be destroyed by a giant infrastructure project in the Mamberamo region. A large dam flooding an area the size of Holland will spearhead logging, plantations, mining and heavy industry in the surrounding area. The 9,000-strong indigenous population including at least 14 uncontacted tribes, are to be forcibly removed.

Rio Tinto Offices Occupied On 4 October, activists from across the South West occupied both offices of Rio Tinto in Bristol in solidarity with the Free Papua Movement (FPM). Rio Tinto is the largest mining company in the world, supporting oppressive regimes across the world in return for military protection of their profitable operations. In West Papua, together with the brutal Indonesian military they have inflicted massive environmental devastation and human suffering. However in the face of corporate and state violence the people of West Papua have fought back. The aims of the action in Bristol were to disrupt the business of the company, to expose their abuses and show solidarity with the OPM, and take action with activists from other areas. It was successful on all counts.

Just before 9am, 12 suited activists walked past security (busy dealing with diversionary 'drunks') and occupied the Mining and Exploration offices on the seventh floor. Police arrived very quickly in five cars and three vans, trashing a door and office equipment while clearing activists out. After an hour people left with no arrests to join the picket outside. Police confiscated a D-lock from one occupier and banners after a banner drop from a nearby footbridge. After a break for lunch and getting the D-lock back from the cop shop, the well-dressed rabble visited the second offices (central registration) for more of the same. The D-lock was put to good use as two women locked on to each other and a filing cabinet. In another office files were well-shuffled, and next door a man barricaded himself in and got down to some useful office work. Three were arrested and held overnight for Breach of the Peace. All the time outside leaflets were given out and the building transformed with banners. People involved felt very positive about the first regional action in the South West, with lots of useful lessons and good experience of working together. The SWARM (South West Active Resistance Movement) is alive.

An ARCO Infiltration

The oil giant ARCO are involved in the exploration and development of Benoui Bay off West Papua and give economic and political support to the murderous Indonesian regime. On 4 October their offices in Guildford were invaded by a dozen besuited Brighton people who went almost totally unnoticed by staff for up to half an hour. During this time they walked around the finance department, reading and reorganising files, losing keys to locked filing cabinets, having creative fun with computers and distributing hundreds of flyers into files, handbags and outgoing mail.

When people eventually left, the fire alarm to the three-floored building mysteriously went off. Two people were chased by security for a mile across town before making a cheeky getaway. The workers had the chance to wonder what the fuck was going on for an hour on full wages; the company lost hundreds of worker hours and they'll be discovering our flyers for many years to come!
For up-to-date news from West Papua get on the OPM so email newslist or check out the web page at: www.eco-action.org/opm/. UK contacts include: South East & General Information OPM SO, 43 Gardner Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN7 7UN; South-West c/o Kebele, 74 Robertson Road, Bristol Bs5 61v; email: kebele@marsbard.com

Massacre in West Papua

The Government of Indonesia carried out a massacre on 2 December 1999 in Timika, West Papua. Hundreds of Papuans were also injured. This December massacre is only one of the countless others in which more than 300,000 Papuans have been killed since 1962. While ethnic cleansing continues in West Papua, the Indonesians - with massive help from the west have resettled hundreds of thousands of racially and culturally different Indonesians under the so-called 'Transmigrasi Project', the largest resettlement project ever in history. The background for the killings and the 'Transmigrasi Project' is the West's greed for the rich resources of West Papua, in particular oil, copper, gold and timber. In December, West Papuans showed, with the raising of the 'Morning Star' flag, symbol for freedom, their demand for full independence from Indonesia.